Newspaper logo  
 
 
   Organized Labor Seeks to Play Role in City's Workforce Development

Creating Jobs That Count:

Organized Labor Seeks to Play Role in City’s Workforce Development

The local AFL-CIO chapter is organizing a three-year pilot project with the Maryland State Department of Education that will train 100 inmates a year to become apprentices in building trades.

by Russell Henley

Two Baltimore-area union leaders spoke at a December 3 forum at the University of Baltimore titled “Organized Labor in the Baltimore Region.” Baltimore workers, employers, and business developers were called to task to help speed the city’s economic development during the event, part of a series on Baltimore-area workforce issues organized by The Job Opportunities Task Force and The Open Society Institute in Baltimore.

Fred Mason, president of the Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, and Roxie Herbekian, International Trustee of the Hotel Employees Union Local 7, reviewed the present regional union membership situation, stating that there are 500 unions with 350,000 members in Maryland and the District of Columbia, with the majority of members being in urban areas.

Mason reported that, while each year about 12,000 more Baltimore City workers migrate to jobs in the outlying areas, about 8,000 of the state’s 15,000 inmates released annually from correctional institutions come to Baltimore City in need of employment to support themselves, and, in many cases, their families. Two-thirds of these released inmates have no high school diploma.

“The ‘survival of the fittest’ notion is a context created by the wealthy,” said Mason, who believes more can be done to educate and train inmates prior to their release. Mason’s AFL-CIO chapter is organizing a pilot project with the Maryland State Department of Education that will train 100 inmates a year to become apprentices in building trades. The pilot program will last three years.

Herbekian, a labor organizer for 20 years, discussed the decrease in union participation among workers in the hotel, food service, gaming, and airport industries, which she asserted has led to low wages and contributed to the burden for families of obtaining affordable health care. Herbekian said that employees in the hotel industry are hurt most because of seasonal fluctuations of guests, often resulting in layoffs during the less busy times of the year. She reported that while the 14 hotels in downtown Baltimore provide close to 5,000 jobs, the average wage of hotel employees is approximately $8 an hour. If employees were to join a union instead of relying on government aid to make up for income deficiency, she said, this would be “a real payback to the city.”

However, Herbekian made it clear that organizing a union is not easy work. “People have to be superheroes to organize a union,” she said. “The laundry workers at Johns Hopkins University fought for three years to establish a local chapter.”

Employers and business developers can also do more to be union-friendly, said Herbekian. “The developers should be required to recognize worker’s rights,” she said. This would lead to a higher “living wage” than the current $8.49 an hour, she said, and would improve health care benefits for workers.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on January 8, 2003.
  
JANUARY 2003
LOCAL NEWS
·NEWS BRIEFS
·CALENDARS:
· Building Trades Offer Training for Ex-Offenders
· Organized Labor Seeks to Play Role in City’s Workforce Development
· Free Concert on Jan. 19 Features Daniel Olson, Baritone
· Domino Sugar Workers Strike to Protest New Management’s Changes
· Low-Income Baltimore Families May Not Receive Full Benefit of their Earned Income Tax Credits
· Study Reveals a “Revolving Door” Scenario for Half of Baltimore’s Homeless
· Nine States Mount Legal Challenge to US Decision to Relax Air Quality Standards
· Clarification from Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC)
· Belvedere Square, Waverly Projects Get Funding Nod from BDC
· Top 10 Sports Stories of 2002
LETTERS
·Balt. Metro Letters
· National Letters
· International Letters
·OPEN LETTERS:
 ·  “All Things Considered”? Not This Time
 ·  Failure To Fire Journalists Who Lie Shows Rotting from the Top
 ·  Trying to believe
 ·   Open Letter to MSNBC
 ·  Open Letter to Rev. Pat Robertson from the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada
 ·  An Open Letter to Fellow Media-Watchers
 ·  (01/16) Open Letter: An Appeal to Bill Gates, Ted Turner, or Some Other Billionaire
ART & ENTERTAINMENT
·War Veteran’s New Book is a Primer on the Bureaucracy of Warfare
·Poetry in a Time of War
NEWS MEDIA CRITIQUE
·A Lesson In U.S. Propaganda
· The Case of the Missing Information about Iraq’s Weapons
· The Sun Shows No Nose for News
·Cowards at the Sun
·How Did those WTC Buildings Collapse?
·HBO Recycles Gulf War Hoax
·Enter Kissinger, the Accidental Appointment
SPEAKING OUT
·EDITORIALS:
 ·  Choose Peace and Prosperity, Not War
 ·  Idiotic Proposed Tax Cuts Show Who’s Really Getting Welfare
·(01/19) Massive Anti-War Rally Rocks Nation's Capital
·In Addition to Civil Rights, We Should be Concerned about Corporate Rights and Health Care Rights and Pension Rights
·Consider the Orwellian “Arrogance is Humility”
· (1/17) Will the White House Please Slow Down and Listen to Reason about Iraq before It's Too Late?
·The Consequences of an Iraqi Misadventure
·Gun Control Misses the Target, we should reprogram all our citizens to be like the Swiss!
·Without Protest, Americans Are Giving Up Freedom
·Environment: The Budgie and the Eucalyptus, Once Upon a Time in Australia
·To Al Qaeda: Fries with That?
·Soapbox: Refresh Your Memory of the UN Charter
·John Rawls—An Appreciation
NATION & WORLD
· ACLU steps up to fight for Americans’ freedoms
· Changes to US Citizens’ Legal Rights
· Bush Administration Set To Unveil New Math, Science Education Plan
· Bush Administration Continues to Abandon Environmental Safeguards in Our National Forests
· Free Trade is Killing our Industry
· Bush Administration’s World View Just Doesn’t Add Up
· Missile Defense Deployment: Still Dangerous, Costly, and Irrelevant to Present Threats
· Meeting Iraqi Victims—and Trying to Prevent More Victims
· No Endgame in Afghanistan
FROM OTHER SITES
· Websites We Like!
· Outstanding Analysis & Perspective

Public Service Ads: