Some 3,800 union healthcare workers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are threatening to go on strike at the end of this month if the leadership at Kaiser Permanente and the union cannot agree to a new contract addressing staffing shortages and low pay for workers. According to a Monday statement from OPEIU Local 2, which represents 8,000 workers in the region, about 98% of health care workers from the union voted to authorize a strike to protest “unfair labor practices” if no agreement is reached by Sept. 30. The health care workers represented by OPEIU Local 2 union include optometrists, pharmacists, nurses and certified nursing assistants.
Unionized psychiatrists and nurse practitioners at Cornerstone Montgomery, an independent behavioral health care provider with dozens of locations across the D.C. region, are accusing management of unfair labor practices, arguing that recent policy proposals would sacrifice their ability to care for patients. Represented by the healthcare worker union 1199SEIU, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners say that Cornerstone Montgomery has tried to “drastically” increase the number of appointments on the providers’ calendars, which would decrease the amount of time each practitioner can spend with their patients, and how frequently they meet.
When a stubborn pain in Nick van Terheyden’s bones would not subside, his doctor had a hunch what was wrong. Without enough vitamin D in the blood, the body will pull that vital nutrient from the bones. Left untreated, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. A blood test in the fall of 2021 confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, and van Terheyden expected his company’s insurance plan, managed by Cigna, to cover the cost of the bloodwork. Instead, Cigna sent van Terheyden a letter explaining that it would not pay for the $350 test because it was not “medically necessary.” The letter was signed by one of Cigna’s medical directors, a doctor employed by the company to review insurance claims.
Baltimore, Maryland - For Baltimore-based childbirth educator and doula Ashlee Jaye Johnson, finding the right working space was crucial to give her startup the consistent effort it needed. It’s not so easy to find that with a child under 3 years old. “It would have been really expensive to send my child to a daycare or something like that,” Jaye Johnson says. The average cost of full time childcare for an infant in Baltimore City is upwards of $200 a week or $10,300 a year, according to the Maryland Family Network. “And also I just prefer for her to be closer to me.” But Jaye Johnson was already finding traction for her business, Birth Class in a Box.
From 2020 to 2022, educators faced the unprecedented circumstances of a pandemic, stagnated wages, and the hardships of virtual learning. Rising to meet these challenges put teachers on a strong footing in our ongoing fight for pay that is commensurate with our work. We have done what was asked of us and more, we have accomplished what seemed impossible and continue to work hard to make up for the learning that was lost during the pandemic—and, surely, that is worth the extra money. However, the negotiations between the teachers, Baltimore County, and the Board of Education have been plagued by bad faith, botched rollouts of measures secured in previous bargaining sessions, and confusion to the point that many of our staff simply do not know what they are supposed to make, let alone how valuable they are.
There was a time in the last century when we, quite foolishly, believed incineration to be a superior means of waste disposal than landfills. And, for decades, many of America's most disadvantaged have been paying for those decisions with with their lifespans. South Baltimore's Curtis Bay neighborhood, for example, is home to two medical waste incinerators and an open-air coal mine. It's ranked in the 95th percentile for hazardous waste and boasts among the highest rates of asthma and lung disease in the entire country. The city's largest trash incinerator is the Wheelabrator–BRESCO, which burns through 2,250 tons of garbage a day. It has been in operation since the 1970s, belching out everything from mercury and lead to hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and chromium into the six surrounding working-class neighborhoods and the people who live there.
Baltimore, Maryland - Keith Davis, Jr. is free after an ordeal which began when he was shot by Baltimore, Maryland police on June 7, 2015. The police claimed to be looking for a robbery suspect and chased Davis into a garage where they fired 44 shots, three of which struck him. The robbery victim testified that Davis was not the perpetrator who attacked him, but the police charged Davis with another crime, a murder which took place in a different part of the city. They did this despite evidence showing he was also innocent of that charge as well. Five trials resulted in either hung juries or judges overturning verdicts. Davis was scheduled to be tried yet again but newly elected State Attorney Ivan Bates dropped all charges against him on January 13, 2023. No one knows how many Black men are like Davis, charged and most often convicted wrongfully due to police and prosecutorial misconduct.
Baltimore, Maryland - Sonia Eaddy never lost faith that she would be able to save her home at 319 North Carrollton Ave. in the Poppleton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Like they have done to many predominantly-Black neighborhoods, developers have targeted Poppleton for years. Over the past decade, the city used eminent domain to evict residents and raze their houses, resulting in the displacement of longtime residents. But last year, Eaddy, who is a third-generation resident of Poppleton, was able to mobilize a citywide coalition that staged rallies, packed public hearings, and collected over 5,000 signatures to save homes like hers from destruction. Even after most of Eaddy’s neighbors were forced out of their homes, after surrounding blocks were demolished, and after she exhausted legal appeals, she never stopped fighting.
Today will be the first installment of our series called “Tax Broke”. It’s a five-year exploration of our hometown Baltimore’s policy of doling out tax breaks to developers to stimulate growth. And the centerpiece of the work is a documentary by the same name, which we have screened and we will publish next year. The essence of our findings is that the city of Baltimore has used a variety of tax breaks intended to stimulate growth, but has done far less to track their effectiveness or make the process transparent to account for them. We also found that this idea has primarily benefited wealthy neighborhoods while leaving poorer communities neglected. It has, in a sense, heightened the inequality of an already unequal city. But our 60-minute film only scratches the surface of this topic, but one important underlying question which our film raises is ultimately, how to build affordable housing as efficiently and fairly as possible.
How Private Developers Profited From Tax Subsidies In Baltimore Intended To Revitalize Poor Neighborhoods
For 50 years, Baltimore city officials have trumpeted the use of tax subsidies for private developers as a way to catalyze economic development. As more and more public funds have gone into the pockets of the rich, the city’s prospects have only worsened. Hundreds of thousands of residents have left or been pushed out of the city, and numerous businesses have followed suit. In their new documentary, ‘Tax Broke,’ TRNN reporters Taya Graham and Stephen Janis team up with veteran Baltimore reporter Jayne Miller to tell the story of how capital has fed parasitically on taxpayer money for half a century. Stephen and Jayne join Rattling the Bars to share what their reporting in ‘Tax Broke’ uncovered.
Maryland - No matter how gigantic or modest, memorials and monuments retain a certain power that we can feel when we encounter them. There are remnants of demolished workhouses in Western Ireland, worn down to lumps of stone foundations, that would go unrecognized if not for a good tour guide pointing them out. And there are specially designed architectural and immersive experiences like Berlin’s holocaust memorial, whose concrete blocks rise and tower over you the deeper you descend into the stark grid. The Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, produces a similarly visceral effect. As you travel through rows of tarnished steel columns inscribed with the names (if known) of several thousand Black people lynched in various counties throughout the United States, the blocks come to resemble hanged bodies raised higher and higher above you, forcing you to crane your neck as a witness.
Baltimore, Maryland – Students at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and community members in Baltimore protested against the creation of a private university police force by disrupting two town hall meetings on September 22 and September 29, the first of which led to some antagonism with JHU’s VP of public safety, Branville Bard. The creation of a university police force – the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD) – was postponed for two years in response to the anti-police brutality protests of 2020. Now the university is fast-tracking the process with minimal input from students or the community, despite active opposition going back to 2019 when several anti-JHPD activists were arrested for occupying a university building for around a month.
Dozens of workers at MOM's Organic Market in Hampden voted Friday night to unionize. The vote is the latest in a string of pro-labor pushes from employees in the greater Baltimore area. Workers at MOM's Organic Market voted 58-5 to join Teamsters Local 570. "It was truly an honor to do this with my coworkers. I'm so glad that we get to secure a dignified workplace for right and for future MOM's workers," said MOM's employee Kelsey Oppenheimer.
Prince George’s County, Maryland - Nine people who were recently held in the Prince George’s County jail say they were detained illegally, even after courts ordered or allowed their release. They’ve filed a lawsuit that suggests as many as a third of people in the county jail may be in custody illegally. The lawsuit, which lawyers are seeking to certify as a class action, was filed in federal district court in Maryland this week. It alleges that county judges unlawfully deferred to county officials in final decisions about the release of people before trial, shrouding the decision making process in bureaucratic mystery and leading to lengthy delays in giving people who have not been found guilty of a crime their freedom. “Every night, hundreds of people are jailed awaiting trial in Prince George’s County, Maryland, despite the absence of any legally sufficient order that they be detained,” the complaint reads.
Education is one of the few rehabilitative options available to incarcerated people, yet all across America prisoners are prevented from pursuing their education. “Atiba” Demetrius Brown, for instance, has been dedicated to improving himself and his post-incarceration prospects by taking correspondence courses while incarcerated in Maryland, but thanks to a draconian new decree by the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services (DPSCS), Atiba can’t take his exams. In this installment of Rattling the Bars, Victor Wallis joins Mansa Musa to discuss the case of “Atiba” Demetrius Brown and the calculated cruelty of the prison-industrial complex. Victor Wallis is a professor in the Liberal Arts Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.