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Maryland public defenders vote to join state workers’ union

December 14th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

WBAL reports Maryland public defenders voted Tuesday to unionize after a two-year effort. Workers at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, which employs more than 600 people, voted to certify AFSCME Maryland Council 3 as their exclusive bargaining representative.

The union says one bargaining unit will consist of administrative and support staff, and another bargaining unit will consist of intake staff, investigators, social workers and attorneys.

The Maryland Defenders Union (AFSCME Local 423/MDU) first announced their intent to unionize in August 2020. Workers cited inadequate staffing levels, record high turnover rates, and impossible workloads and caseloads as some of the core reasons they sought to unionize.

In a legislative session earlier this year, lawmakers passed legislation to expand collective bargaining rights to employees in the public defender's office.

The union says they will join nearly 30,000 state and higher education employees who have collective bargaining rights in their agencies and workplaces.