Frequently Asked Questions

Charles County workers fighting for you in Annapolis

What is a union?
You and your co-workers are the union. The union is an organization that promotes the general welfare of county employees through collective bargaining. Every member has an equal say and an equal vote. You will vote for your union leadership, your bargaining committee, and your first contract. A union is the best way to exercise democracy in the workplace. A union is strength in numbers. A union is proof that you are stronger united in solidarity with your coworkers, that you can win the wages, benefits, and respect you deserve.

How does collective bargaining work?
A committee chosen by you and your co-workers sits down and works out an agreement known as a “union contract” that covers issues of concern with your employer. The bargaining committee sits at the bargaining table as equals with management and represents the united strength of all union members. The majority of members must vote to approve the agreement before it can become a ratified contract and be implemented.

What do I stand to gain with a contract?
A contract is the best, strongest way to ensure your employer treats you with the respect you deserve. As a member of your union, you will have an equal vote in the terms of your first union contract. The negotiated improvements must be approved by a majority of Charles County employee union members. The contract cannot be changed without negotiating with county employees who are union members. While the terms of the contract you win with your union can vary, union contracts often provide:

  • Increased wages, hours, and benefits
  • Decision-making input on working conditions and workplace safety
  • Processes to resolve workplace disputes and grievances

What is AFSCME?
AFSCME stands for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. We represent 1.4 million public service workers like yourself including 45,000 in Maryland. By building on the standards set by over 10,000 AFSCME contracts across the country, we are winning raises, rights and respect at the bargaining table, in state legislatures and city councils across the country. AFSCME members work everywhere our communities need us. AFSCME members set the standards of our pay, benefits and working conditions by coming together to negotiate for strong contracts. Through solidarity, well over a million AFSCME members also enjoy many cost saving member-only benefits including a FREE college degree for members, their spouses, children, and grandchildren.

How do we build our own AFSCME local union in Charles County?
AFSCME worked with a team of Charles County employees to successfully pass enabling legislation in Annapolis and win a neutrality agreement with the County. The neutrality agreement was passed unanimously by Charles County Commissioners. This agreement provides a clear process to have a certified seat at the table where decisions are made. The neutrality agreement provides the:

  • Freedom to join and organize a union without retaliation from management.
  • Right to join the union and encourage others to come together to build a strong voice on the job.
  • Recognition of AFSCME Charles County employee’s union when a majority sign a membership card.
  • Enforcement of the neutrality agreement by a third-party arbitrator.

Read the Charles County Labor Peace Agreement

How much are dues? When will they be taken out?
Dues are $18.87 bi-weekly. No dues are paid until you and your coworkers vote yes on the contract you negotiate with the County and it goes into effect! Dues are automatically deducted from pay for union members.

There are many things I like about where I work, will those be taken away if we organize our union?
With AFSCME you are the union. You and your coworkers will negotiate with management over work rules and policies. Employees want to solve problems with management. If employees are happy with certain benefits, then they will not negotiate to change them.

We are in the middle of a crisis. What would a union do during this time?
With a union you would have a voice and the ability to make sure you and your coworkers are safe, fairly compensated, and included in any policy changes. AFSCME local unions in the area have been able to negotiate hazard pay, adequate PPE, and administrative leave for COVID related time off. In a time like this it’s important to have the right to bargain any changes to your pay, benefits, and working conditions and having a union is the best way to win these guaranteed protections. There's no better time than now to have a voice on the job.