We're Getting Into Step

Since deciding on our Right to Health campaign at our Statewide Membership Assembly in December, we have been busy strategizing and planning the Spring launch of our new campaign and our Summer organizing drive. Through this 10-week organization-wide process, we have been grounding ourselves in the current moment, reflecting on lessons learned from last year, and creating annual plans for our regional committees and statewide teams. We are using this time to get into step, because we know the fight for our right to health is a protracted fight that will require a mass organization led by the poor in Maryland. 

In the coming weeks, we will have more to share from our strategic planning process. In the meantime, this e-alert will include a reflection from one of our members Mike Hughes on how strategic planning is going so far, a video created by our Media Team recapping our Year of Reconnaissance and the collective process that led to our Right to Health Campaign, and information on the Access to Counsel program. 

Year of Reconnaissance: Deciding on our Right to Health Campaign 

When we began our year-long process of reconnaissance to determine our next campaign, we assumed that we would be zeroing in on a single-issue campaign around housing, healthcare, or public benefits. But a year of collective listening, research, and study against the backdrop of post-pandemic austerity (Expanded Child Tax Credit, SNAP, Medicaid, etc.) underscored the deep interconnections between our basic needs and the ways that poverty is harming our health, the health of our families, and communities. In one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest nation in the world, 38% of Marylanders are unable to afford their housing, healthcare, childcare, transportation, and other basic needs. The denial of our basic human rights and the stress that this produces is leading to illness and premature death. As many of you know, in the last year alone, we lost three members to the violence of poverty and crowdsourced to help pay for two memorial and funeral services. This video from the Media Team highlights this process and some of the leaders who are taking up this new Right to Health campaign. 

Right to Counsel 

Maryland continues to have one of the highest eviction filings in the country. More than 400,000 failure to pay rent cases were filed in 2023. Our neighbors in Pennsylvania and Virginia combined do not have such a high number of cases. 

United Workers is working with the Access to Counsel and Evictions Program statewide to get tenants legal representation. Under a law passed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic the state is funding additional legal support to renters. If you have questions about your legal rights, difficulty getting your landlord to honor your lease agreement or otherwise have concerns about needed repairs to your residence -

  • Please call 2-1-1 and ask to do the Access to Counsel intake. Once that is completed legal services in your region will contact you. 
  • If your landlord has threatened you with eviction please call 2-1-1 and do the intake. It is much better to get legal counsel prior to going to court. 

And if you have any questions please contact United Workers.

Member Reflection

What Does Systemic Change Look Like?

Written By: Mike Hughes, United Workers Member from Hagerstown, MD

In the Jewish scriptures in the book of Isaiah there is a passage that talks about not despising the beginning of small things, where God says, "See I am doing a new thing here -- do you not perceive it?" As if to ask, would you recognize the beginning of systemic change if you saw it? What does systemic change look like? 

In his book "It's Not Enough to Be Angry" Willie Baptist talks about the need for organizers to study, to strategize, to be smarter and more nimble than their larger and better funded opponents -- that no dumb force has ever defeated a smart force in the history of the world…… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE