County school secretaries walked away from contract negotiations after school officials rejected a deal in which the workers would give up pay raises in exchange for job security.
The 1,209 members of the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County will vote next week whether to institute a work-to-rule job action until acontract agreement is reached.
The group took back its request for a 5 percent increase in a final offer in exchange for contract language spelling out the procedures if layoffs are necessary.
"It's not about money," said Dee Zepp,who heads the union. "We were willing to forgo salary, but the bottom line is that the board, at this time, could not move toward addressing issues of job security.
"We are very frustrated and very disappointed that an organization such as SAAAAC is willing to make a concession and the board did not make any movement."
Zepp said said teacher assistants were seeking a contract that would provide them witha place to put their purses, and secretaries wanted a contract that took away their responsibility for dispensing medicine to students.
"Secretaries do the book-keeping, give out medicine, call parents, and yet are not paid for overtime," she said. "In most places they donot receive comp time either."
Donna diGrazia, chief negotiator for the school board, said the union turned down the offer Jan. 16, but said she is optimistic other negotiations will not be hurt by the impasse.
A letter will be sent to the State Department of Educationand if accepted by the state superintendent, a mediator will be selected by both sides.
Zepp said she is especially concerned because teacher assistants who work closely with special education and special needs students sometimes earn less than school custodians.