Posted by: Ann Corcoran | April 10, 2011

Update: Forced union dues issue behind Washington County prison conflict

This is the latest on a story I first posted here about how an altercation began at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown last month.  Although perhaps the complaints won’t be as acrimonious as this one, I predict that when state workers who are not union members fully understand that come July 1 their pay will be docked and funds sent directly to AFSCME, there will be more shock and discord.

Just at a point in time when Wisconsin has ended forced union dues for public sector unions, Maryland’s AFSCME will begin collecting those dues as they pass through state workers’ paychecks.

From the Hagerstown Herald Mail:

A union representative contends that correctional officers challenged him to a fight at a local state prison last month, not the other way around, as officers have claimed.

Steve Berger, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Maryland, wrote that when he asked correctional officers to sign “paper work that was going to be given to legislative leaders in Annapolis,” none did.

Instead, officers asked him about a controversial new fee the union is charging for its collective bargaining services, even from non-members.

AFSCME’s union representative, Berger, says he was asked to step outside:

“When the questions turned political, and I was asked to go outside to participate in a physical altercation, I felt obligated to verbally defend myself and AFSCME,” Berger wrote in a March 22 letter to Gary D. Maynard, the secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Through the Maryland Public Information Act, The Herald-Mail requested a copy of the letter from the department on March 31 and received it Thursday.

Berger’s account differs sharply from the recollections of several correctional officers who were at the Maryland Correctional Training Center on March 11, when Berger was there to talk to officers.

What a joke, they call it “fair share!”

This is so typical, they must think that by calling forced union dues “fair share” (or sometimes “service fee”) it will soften the blow to the worker and hide the truth from the taxpayers.

Some told The Herald-Mail last month that officers were civil as they questioned Berger about the “fair share” fee, as it is known, but Berger blew up as the debate escalated, and he launched an expletive-laden tirade, then left.

They said 72 correctional officers and staff members signed a petition asking that Berger be banned from the prison and that he apologize.

Asked Friday about Berger’s account of the squabble in his letter, Shank — who has clashed with AFSCME over the fair share fee — said he has about a dozen incident reports from correctional officers accusing Berger of being the instigator and acting in “an unprofessional, threatening and belligerent manner.”

There is more, read the whole article.

These forced union dues will go directly to AFSCME’s campaign war chest to re-elect Obama.  See my post here where we learned that AFSCME  tops the list and gives far more than other unions to Democratic candidates.



  1. There must be some way I can take action against AFSCME’s plan to steal my money. Maryland government has been complicit in the theft of my (our) property and O’Mally knows where the money is going. I don’t want my money going to help re-elect Obama. How dare O’Mally and the union presume to speak for me! AFSCME believes it has a right to take my money because, I’ve been told, I benefit from the collective bargaining efforts. Really? Maryland has just about the worst retirement/pension system in the United States and of course the money is not there even now. What AFSCME does they do for themselves. If they really want to help me they will leave my property alone.

    • Greg, the only things I can recommend are to contact your State legislators and complain (even if they are sympathetic they can’t do much, but they should hear from you anyway), and the other is to join with others like yourself and form a grassroots group of state employees who oppose forced union dues.

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