Maryland’s Unsung Heroes On The Front Line: Maryland Park Rangers

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This is an effort of the Maryland Professionals Employees Council in conjunction with AFT-Maryland to highlight state employees who are essential workers on the front line providing needed services and resources to residents throughout the state that work in sectors other than front-line health care. Health care workers are vital and will be the north star to guide us through this global pandemic, however workers from many sectors across the state are going above and beyond their assigned duties to help keep our state functioning.

Maryland Park Rangers are on the frontline serving Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic in a unique way.  Parks are a holistic approach to the mental and physical challenges we face. Since state parks are essential in contributing to the overall health and well-being of Maryland citizens, there is a substantial impact on Maryland Park Services (MPS).  As attendance continues to skyrocket, budget cuts in the department have left them with less contractual help to deal with the crowds. This has led to increased park closures, greater vigilance to manage traffic control, and response to emergencies in the park. Of greater importance and concern is the increased exposure Rangers have to the thousands of daily visitors to state parks. 

The effort to maintain social distance is made but, in most cases, cannot be achieved due to the nature of their job duties, which may require physical interaction with park visitors. Staffing within state parks is minimal; the effect of one Ranger contracting COVID-19 would cause most of their staff to quarantine. Rangers must take great caution in trying to maintain safety, which involves constant cleaning and avoiding shared spaces when possible.

MPS is fortunate to have an active Labor-Management Committee(LMC) due to the dedication and advocacy of LMC members Chris Czarra, Mike Travers, Kayla Frank, Maria Reusing, & Chris Gleason. In addition to their sacrifice in serving Maryland on the frontline, they lead the charge in presenting issues and solutions to management, making a positive impact on working conditions. Their efforts have resulted in improved communication during this pandemic, salary correction for PSAs, permanent safety barriers on Rt.40, and yearly sexual harassment training. 
 
Despite the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, Rangers are proud to have an essential role in Maryland’s recovery. HEALTHY PARKS HEALTHY PEOPLE -They make it possible for Marylanders to go out and enjoy the overall health benefits state parks bring.   Maryland Park Rangers are Unsung Heroes on the Frontline. 

 

They deserve respect and recognition for their sacrifice as frontline employees, which the state has denied. We stand united and will not relent in the effort to attain COVID-19 Response Pay for our Park Rangers.