Contract Negotiations Falter Over Teacher Transfers

Pay Raises Agreed On But May Not Materialize

April 14, 1991|By Staff report

Negotiators have reached agreement on a salary increase for county school system secretaries and teacher assistants but remain at an impasse over procedures for transfers and reassignments.

Terms of the wage settlement could not be learned last week, leaving the impact onthe school board's 1991-1992 operating budget request unknown.

The board will have to ask the county government for a supplementto its $146 million budget request to finance pay raises included inthe final contract agreement.

That supplemental request is likelyto meet the same fate as the 6 percent negotiated increase for teacher raises, which County Executive Charles I. Ecker said last week would not be included in the budget he sends to the County Council.

"My view is the same for all employees, whether they are county or school employees," Ecker said.

That view, expressed as the county's budget crisis became clear in the last four months, is that it is unfair for the school system to offer raises to its employees when countygovernment workers

face layoffs and no pay increases.

Cheryl A. McLeod, Maryland State Teachers Association negotiator, said she could not reveal how much the salary increase will be because the information has not yet been presented to the secretaries and assistants.

Salaries will be considered as part of the overall contract agreement for ratification, she said.

School board negotiator Judith S. Bresler could not be reached for comment on the contract talks last week.

The executive cannot bar the school board from giving its employees pay increases. But Ecker said Thursday that he will cut the $6million cost of the teacher pay increase from the budget he is scheduled to present to the council April 22.

The county school system employs approximately 2,000 teachers and approximately 765 secretaries and instructional assistants.

Secretaries and assistants, who voted in 1989 to merge their union with the Howard County Education Association, are negotiating to replace a 1988 agreement that left the issue of transfers unresolved pending a State Board of Education ruling on whether it could be negotiated. The new contract would take effect July 1.

Union members sought to have transfers and reassignments based on seniority. School officials resist writing any procedural requirements into the contract.

McLeod said a few other points remain unsettled, but "basically, the thing holding us up is seniority."

Negotiators have had two sessions on the issue with mediator Seymour Strongin from the American Arbitration Association. McLeod said the mediator has asked for memos that he will use to prepare a non-binding report on the issue.

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