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Lt. Gov Brown meets with union organizers

ElectionsAnthony BrownExecutive BranchDouglas F. GanslerDavid R. CraigMartin O'Malley

Baltimore workers who want to unionize private security firms in the city have gotten the attention of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. 

Brown, a Democrat, spent a half-hour in the kitchen of a Baltimore security guard Wednesday morning, snacking on donuts and chatting about the struggles of working for a company that is not unionized.

"So, what do you do for heath insurance?" Brown asked Travis Hanson, who is seven months pregnant. 

Hanson, 26 and a leader in the effort to bring the city's 1,000 private security guard workers into to the 32BJ SEIU, said she joined Medicaid when she learned she was expecting. 

Representatives from 32BJ SEIU organized the visit during which Hanson also described the struggle to live on $10 an hour, even though she and her husband both work. 

Brown, who is running for governor, has said he supports raising the state's minimum wage and he will make it a top priority. His chief Democratic rivals, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur, have also voiced support for such increases.

The SEIU labor union has yet to make an endorsement in the 2014 race to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley. Republicans in the race include Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Anne Arundel County Del. Ron George and Charles County business executive Charles Lollar.

SEIU officials have helped organized unions for private security guards in Washington, Philadelphia, Miami and New York. The group said it has more than 145,000 members in 11 states.

Union officials said that private security officers who work in Baltimore are three times more likely than all other Baltimore workers to receive public health insurance and to receive food stamps. 

Brown did not make any promises about supporting the union-organizing efforts, but said afterward that such visits allow him "to spend time with the people that I serve."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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