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Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

Sharing more pathways to student debt relief

As the landscape of student debt shifts, and more and more opportunities allow borrowers to have their debt relieved, the AFT is using every avenue to ensure that the word is out. In affiliate meetings, telephone town halls, media coverage and social media, the union is spreading the news, and at a student debt clinic at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31, AFT President Randi Weingarten vowed to reach as many people as possible with information that could save them tens—and sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars.

Celebrating student loan relief

“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.

Unsung Heroes Hike and Press Conference

Maryland Park Rangers call on Governor Hogan to honor the State's commitment to release COVID-19 Response Pay. These State Employees seek compensation for their work responding to a need for safe and healthy ways for residents to maintain mental and physical health during the state-mandated "Stay At Home" orders during the pandemic.

STOP THE SABOTAGE OF STATE PARKS

"...War!" this declaration has been made by many government leaders, including our Governor. The impacts of Coronavirus have many parallels to World War II and the Vietnam War. Some include the current economic cycle, the expansion of government and the debate of civil liberties, and the rising death tolls national leaders have compared to war figures.  And last but not least, the equivalent of frontline employees and frontline soldiers who put themselves at risk for the good of others.

While some may debate the use of "war" to describe the current times, the severe effects of the Coronavirus are certain.  Therefore, we all have a responsibility to act in the best interest of Maryland's recovery, especially those in a position of authority and serving as Heads of State Agencies making decisions that affect citizens' lives.

Frontline soldiers are the first line of defense in this war, and the best strategy is to reinforce the frontline. This is done by providing them the resources and support necessary to perform their duties and maintain morale. Morale wins wars!!

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HOW THE FIGHT WAS WON

Our concerted efforts to stop the draconian cuts were successful! The Board of Public Works voted 2:1 to delay $205 million in cuts to state employees.
 

Your vote is your voice

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column outlines the urgency of using our voices—our votes—in this life-changing election, when we will make a choice “between President Donald Trump, who has trafficked in chaos, fear, lies and division, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who seeks to reverse Trump’s failures on COVID-19 and the economy, and to unite and uplift the American people.” Besides the four crises we face—a pandemic, an economic crisis, racism and a climate emergency—democracy itself is on the ballot, as Trump continues to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

Tele-Town Hall Event Discusses Workplace Safety

COVID-19 has created concern for all Maryland residents, but MPEC members have a specific concern as their work potentially increases their exposure to the virus. Staff and leadership of the union organized a tele-townhall to help members understand workplace safety and job liability in the unfortunate event they test positive for the virus.

MPEC Caravan to Stop the Cuts

When Gov. Hogan proposed to solve the state’s fiscal challenges on the backs of state employees, MPEC stood tall and fought back. President Jerry Smith quickly mobilized the membership to engage in a massive lobbying campaign to members of the Board of Public Works to reject hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to state workers. Following intense letter writing and phone calling efforts, MPEC held a caravan outside of the Maryland State Treasurer’s Office to encourage Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot to reject the proposed cuts.