Support for legislation for grad students & MCE reform!

Dear UMD AAUP members,

We are writing to ask you to consider taking action on two important pieces of legislation that directly impact members of the UMD campus community.

The first is SB0658—a bill advanced by the Fearless Student Employees (FSE) of UMD that would grant graduate students the right to collectively bargain with the university for better wages and benefits. As you may know, UMD graduate student stipends are below those of many Big Ten and peer institutions—a fact that is made even more unjust by the extraordinarily high cost of living in the DMV area (as I am sure I don’t need to tell any of you! The living wage for PG County is $35,036). You can learn more about why supporting this bill is important for building a better and more compassionate campus here.

We are asking you to sign the FSE’s Statement of Support and consider writing your own personal letter of support for their bill (a model and directions are available here). Please let us know too if you have any feedback on our letter of support for this bill.

We also urge you to support House Bill 102 and Senate Bill 194, which will reform Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE) by linking prison labor wages to Maryland’s minimum wage. You might be saying: “Wait, what?!?! How is prison labor connected to UMD?” Yes, actually, UMD is unfortunately required by state law to use MCE as its “preferred source” for purchasing furniture (see, for example, here)—a “source” that shockingly pays its laborers $.90-$2.75 per day (yes, you read that correctly, less than a dollar to $2.75 PER DAY) (see here for more). Although this bill does not address all of the alarming issues involved in the use of prison labor, raising wages would be a step in the right direction.

We are asking you to raise awareness about this issue on campus—even forwarding this email would be a great step!—and to contact your Maryland legislators and ask them to support these bills. You will find a letter of support template here (kindly prepared by UMD AAUP member, Benjamin Bradley) with information on how to find your state representatives and submit a letter to them.

Apologies for the long email. But we believe both of these legislative efforts are really important for the improvement of the UMD community. Please let us know if you have any questions.