Organized Labor in the Baltimore Region

Speakers: Fred Mason, President, Maryland and Washington, D.C. AFL-CIO
Roxie Herbekian, International Trustee, Local #7, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union

Two local union leaders urged Baltimore area policy makers and employers to ensure that low-skill workers have adequate wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. This is particularly important, they said, in the case of new businesses that are attracted to Baltimore City, often with public tax incentives.

“Baltimore is not getting the full benefit of its investment because the jobs being created are not lifting the city out of poverty,” said Roxie Herbekian, a 20-year veteran labor organizer who has organized thousands of hotel, food service and parking workers and is working to revitalize Baltimore’s hotel employees local. Ms. Herbekian used examples from the development of Camden Yards and area hotels to show the need for a more comprehensive approach to economic development that does more than just subsidize businesses to encourage them to expand or move into the region.

Fred Mason, President of the Maryland and D.C. State Federation of Labor, about the need for additional education and training opportunities to help low-income workers get and keep family-sustaining jobs. A former auto worker and steelworker, Mr. Mason focused his comments on the employment needs of Maryland’s ex-prisoner population. Approximately 15,000 inmates are released annually from the state’s correctional institutions. Two-thirds of these inmates don’t have a high school diploma and are trying to support at least two children.

“One approach to public safety is locking people up and forgetting about them,” Mr. Mason said. “That’s not our approach.”

Daily Record coverage

Download Subsidizing the Low Road: Economic Development in Baltimore, an analysis of Baltimore’s economic development efforts. Conducted by Good Jobs First, the report finds “a history of high costs, low benefits, and a lack of safeguards to ensure that taxpayer investments really pay off in family-wage jobs.”

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