• What's New

    On migrant workers in Maryland

         Just past midnight on a Saturday morning twenty-eight year old Melva Guadalupe Vázquez of Ciudad del Maíz, México wakes up to her phone alarm in a cramped bedroom she shares with five other women in Woolford, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. She puts on her work uniform, which despite washing still reeks of crabs, and heads out into the darkness to walk a quarter-mile to Lindy’s Seafood, where the graveyard shift is due to begin at 2 a.m. A half hour later she is part of a team of a dozen women on the picking line as crabs are wheeled in on a huge dolly and put in piles on a long, stainless steel table. Vázquez puts on her fingerless blue gloves, picks up a crab and cracks the shell. She then quickly maneuvers her two small knives to extract the meat and puts it into a small plastic container labeled #9. A supervisor will record how much she has produced during the shift, so she works fast, deshelling roughly two crabs per minute. No one speaks while working. Spanish music plays on one of the women's iPhone. Most of them spend the time thinking of their children back home. At 7 a.m. Vázquez takes an hour for lunch, when she puts a Band-Aid on a self-inflicted cut to a finger on her right hand, which burns painfully from the salt. She works another 4 hours for a total of 10 -- there are a lot of crabs to process that day. Now it’s 1 p.m., and exhausted she walks back home in the bright midday sun. She is looking forward to tomorrow, Sunday, the one day she usually gets off, when she plans to attend church and do grocery shopping.

                                           *                                                        *                                                            *

         Like the Jim Crow laws of the 19th century that enforced racial segregation in the U.S., there are ways in which our modern day temporary immigrant visa system resembles the historical institution of slavery. There are differences of course. Workers come to America of their own free will, and they are in principle afforded equal protection under the law, both in the workplace and as visitors to our country. For instance, they are entitled to enroll in the ACA if they choose while they are here. However, they are effectively segregated from the general population and take up the kind of low-paying, manual labor that occurs out of the sight and mind of most people. They are also subjected to not-so-subtle forms of racial discrimination that is inspired these days directly from Washington. “A lot of the Hispanic people are afraid of going to certain stores because there are some people who look at them disapprovingly,” said Margarita Marquez, an outreach worker. “But they know how to avoid those situations.”

     

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  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0701 Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act

    TESTIMONY FOR SB0701

                                                 Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act 

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Waldstreicher

    Committee: Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:   Marie Velong 

    Position: FAVORABLE

    Honorable Committee Members: 

    On behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus, I am writing today in support of the Richard E Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Maryland End of Life Option Act to authorize medical aid in dying in our state. I would strongly encourage the committee to vote for this compassionate option that would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live, the choice to receive a prescription for self-ingested medication enabling a peaceful, pain-free death. 

    In my 72 years of life, I have helped many of my pets to achieve a pain-free death because of the pain they were currently in. When I had to watch my husband, mother and other people I cared about die in so much pain, I could not understand why we can show so much compassion to our animals and not the people we love. Even convicts on death row get more consideration. We should at least have the option for a better death. People choose when and how they will give birth, why can't they choose when and how they themselves can leave this earth? 

    By supporting the Maryland End of Life Option Act, I hope my home state is the next to join eight states and the District of Columbia in authorizing medical aid in dying. Thank you for representing me, The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and others in this state. I truly hope you will vote  Favorable on this bill that is so vitally important to me and our organization.

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  • Updates from the legislative committee

    Recap of legislative committee activities:

    We started out the season with a two-meeting review of a substantial list of legislative items the LSPC and the Maryland Legislative Coalition had supported in the last session, and narrowed in on six items from that list that the committee would make top priorities. 

    One item, an idea for a bill that would help young people with disabilities transition into the workforce, never made it onto paper this session. In retrospect, we could have encouraged one of our representatives to pick up the ball on this one, or I guess we could have submitted draft legislation – not sure how that works - but we waited too long, and will have to revisit this next session. 

    The remaining five are 

    1.  Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education
    2.  Single Payer Healthcare
    3.  Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, moratorium on the Eastern Shore
    4.  End of Life Act
    5.  Correctional Facilities and Police Officers – Immigration status

     

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  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0228 Commission on Universal Health Care

    TESTIMONY FOR SB0228

                                                 Commission on Universal Health Care

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Pinsky 

    Committee: Finance 

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

     

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0228 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Since our organization's creation the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members have been strong supporters of efforts to move our nation towards a Single- Payer Healthcare System that provides quality healthcare to all.  SB0228 would allow our state to lead the nation by giving us the opportunity to join the rest of the industrialized world by transitioning our current system to a Single Payer system in the most efficient and cost-effective manner to ensure all Marylanders have quality healthcare.  

    SB0228 would accomplish the first step by creating and funding a commission to collect the information needed to create a plan so that Maryland can join the rest of the industrialized world by implementing a Single Payer Healthcare System and ensuring that it provides quality healthcare to all Marylanders.  

    SB 0228 also allows us to become the nation’s leader when it comes to healthcare by showing us the way to innovate and lead in the same way that waryland did with the hospital system. This commission will also show the people of Maryland that their legislators are committed to lowering the costs for healthcare,  providing more coverage for things like mental health and dental, and ensuring that all Marylanders have health insurance. 

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

     

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  • TESTIMONY FOR SB1000 The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

    TESTIMONY FOR SB1000

    The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

    Bill Sponsor: President Ferguson

    Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Karen Smith, Communications Co-Chair of the LSPC and Somerset County Educator   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    In 2009, Maryland public schools were ranked #1 in the nation by three separate, independent studies. This ranking held true until 2013. Sadly, this is not the standard any longer. In 2019, Maryland’s schools were ranked 4th in the nation by Education Week.

     

    The Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland’s future has become a hotly contested issue among legislators, educators, and taxpayers. Most would agree--if only in theory--that prioritizing education is necessary for the future of a healthy economy and quality of life of Marylanders. The aim of this very comprehensive bill is to increase funding for universal pre-K, special education, teacher training, concentration of poverty grants, and teacher salaries, to name only a few priorities of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

     

    While many of those who argue against the bill do so because they say the cost is too high, we at the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus would argue that the cost of not funding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations is too high. Underprepared teachers cannot hope to prepare students fully. Teacher-education programs are not attracting students. Local universities such as UMES and Salisbury University have few students enrolled in teacher preparatory programs. And why, once certificated, would they choose to stay locally and earn less for doing the same job?

     

     

     

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