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.
Workers at Apple’s Towson Town Center store in Maryland have voted to unionize, with 65 yeses and 33 nos. Around 110 employees were eligible to vote in the election. The store is the first Apple retail location in the US to hold a union election, after organizers in Atlanta withdrew their petition to hold a union vote, which had been scheduled to take place in early May. Organizing at the Towson store has been done by a group of employees that called themselves AppleCORE (an acronym for Coalition of Organized Retail Employees). The workers have said they want to expand their rights, specifically asking for a say when it came to pay, hours, and safety. AppleCORE is associated with a larger, established union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Towson, Maryland - Apple Store workers in Maryland are attempting to form the company’s first U.S. union. They join two other stores, one in Atlanta and one in NYC, in their efforts to unionize. We spoke to the Apple retail workers leading the drive to unionize the Towson Mall store. Below is a full transcript of the video: Kevin Gallagher: We talk about this country as like a place where democracy thrives, but we work 80% of our lives in an environment where we have no democracy. We have no vote in the things that affect us. Christie Pridgen: Apple has all the power, influence, and money to be able to make a significant change in what labor is. It’s an opportunity, like, they didn’t start it, they didn’t begin this initiative—we did. All they have to do is follow up.
In the wealthy Washington, DC suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, just off River Road, there is an asphalt parking lot that covers the graves of hundreds African Americans. That parking lot is the subject of a lawsuit in which descendants of individuals buried in the Moses Cemetery, the Pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church, and the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition have asked a court to prevent the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (“HOC”), the quasi-governmental agency that owns the parking lot, from selling the parking lot and the adjacent land and building to a developer for $51 million. Under the terms of the sales agreement, the developer would have been free to continue to use the burial ground as a parking lot, to build another structure on top of the burial ground, or even to convert the burial ground into a dog park.
Democrats in Maryland recently withdrew their own bill to expand healthcare coverage for trans people, despite having a majority to pass it, leaving transgender Marylanders feeling betrayed by the party that’s long claimed to champion their rights. House Bill 746, the Trans Health Equity Act, would have forced Maryland’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for transgender people’s transition-related treatments, including hormone therapy, surgeries, and voice therapy. According to its sponsor, Delegate Anne Kaiser, some 2,000 transgender Marylanders use Medicaid. The bill easily passed Maryland’s Senate, but just as the House of Delegates’ legislative session was ending in early April, the bill mysteriously disappeared.
Bethesda, MD - A community coalition has provided “overwhelming evidence” that a portion of a suburban Washington apartment complex was used as a burial ground for freed Black slaves and their descendants and “many bodies likely still remain on the property,” a Maryland judge ruled Monday in a case by the group to thwart the sale of the property. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission's pending $50 million sale of Westwood Tower in Bethesda to a local investment firm, Charger Ventures, drew intense public opposition over the summer and led to the lawsuit filed by the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition. The group had furnished historical accounts indicating the gravesite — known as Moses Cemetery — was paved over with asphalt for a parking lot when the apartments went up in the late 1960s.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (Indian Head) has conducted open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of military flares that contain up to 45% of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), according to a report by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, (CSWAB). Indian Head has conducted OB/OD for decades without a hazardous waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) permit. EPA officials confirm there are no enforceable permit conditions restricting the amount or type of munitions treated by OB/OD, including flares.
Baltimore, MD - As a “farm to school specialist” in the Baltimore City public schools, Anne Rosenthal splits her time between an office and Great Kids Farm in Catonsville, a 33-acre plot of land, complete with forests, a stream, greenhouses and a barn with animals, owned and operated by the school district. “A lot of students have never had the opportunity to plant a seed or a small plant, or harvest straight from plants and taste farm-fresh produce,” Rosenthal said. When kids have that first experience of “picking a cherry tomato off the plant and putting it in their mouths,” she said, “they’re much more apt to be excited to see that cherry tomato on their school lunch tray.”
A Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, that Montgomery County may not sell the land that includes the historic Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland. Judge Karla Smith issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding the sale of the cemetery, currently owned by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC.) This ruling is seen as historic because of the rarity of communities prevailing in court over multi-million-dollar corporations and government agencies. The sale of the cemetery took place without a hearing or public notice, essentially under the cover of darkness. The next step is a hearing on a preliminary injunction which will be held Sept. 27th, 2021.
Baltimore, Maryland — Leaders here aspire to create a city with zero waste. But new research shows that Baltimore has only attained an estimated residential plastic recycling rate of 2.1 percent, far below the national average of about nine percent. The report, by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a coalition of 800 groups and individuals who advocate for zero waste, found that Baltimore’s plastic recycling rate was the lowest of the five cities surveyed, which included Minneapolis, Minnesota; Long Beach, California; Newark, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan. “Well, I’m not surprised because plastics recycling has been an abysmal failure despite the millions of dollars spent by the plastics industry trying to get the public to believe that you can actually recycle plastics,” said Judith Enck, a former regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the president of Beyond Plastics, an organization that seeks to end plastics pollution.
Under the aegis of Baltimore Peace Action, twelve stalwarts left Baltimore on September 3 to take on weapons contractor Northrop Grumman. If Sancho Panza were with us, he would have described our journey to Linthicum Heights, Maryland as foolish and nonsensical. How dare this group to think it could joust with a giant weapons contractor which has great influence in Congress, in the Pentagon and even in the White House? Nevertheless, armed with signs, a Veterans for Peace flag, chunks of watermelon, Pellegrino water and a letter to CEO Jackie Warden, we arrived at a corporate office. Our signs carried messages which were in the letter: Say No to Northrop Grumman, Northrop Grumman Profits from War, Stop Buying Legislators and Close the Revolving Door.
The unthinkable, unconscionable, immoral, racist, and illegal is occurring in Bethesda, Maryland located in Montgomery County. For those who thought the buying and selling of Black bodies was made illegal by the 13th amendment, Montgomery County, Maryland is challenging that notion. To paraphrase Frederick Douglas, the 21st century selling and buying of Black flesh in Montgomery County, Maryland should "disgrace a nation of savages." For more than 350 years, Montgomery County has displayed a history of kidnapping, raping, and murdering of Africans. The County, in collusion with a private investor, has placed Black people back on the auction block and plans to sell over 500 Black remains along with a high-rise building to Charger Ventures.
Maryland - The Patuxent River Naval Air Station says the PFAS foam it sent down the drain on May 16 to the wastewater treatment plant operated by the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (METCOM) is safe. It’s not true. The foams are toxic and have been released into the environment. Captain John Brabazon, Patuxent River NAS Commanding Officer said in a press statement, “We understand the public’s concern when it comes to issues like PFAS, which is why we have transitioned to the replacement AFFF like the Ansulite.” The Navy says the new Ansulite firefighting foam does not contain detectable levels of PFOS or PFOA. Few seem concerned by the 2,500 gallon release. St. Mary’s Commissioner Todd Morgan commented, “The base says the foam isn’t toxic.”