Four school unions march in Arundel Teachers facing tough times throughout area.

April 23, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff Mark Bomster, Jay Merwin, Bruce Reid and Norris P. West contributed to this story.

About 100 people from four unions let the Anne Arundel County Board of Education know last night that they were unhappy with the state of negotiations for new contracts.

As far back as anyone can remember, this is the first time that the four unions have reached an impasse with the board.

"It doesn't make sense to me," said Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. "This is the time for the Board of Ed to agree, when there are no fiscal-type items."

An arbitrator has been called in to help in negotiations between the Board of Education and TAAAC, the Secretaries and Aides Association of Anne Arundel County, the Association of Education Leaders and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In all, about 6,000 employees -- including principals, teachers, secretaries, counselors, custodians and bus drivers -- are still without contracts.

Last night, members from the unions marched in front of board headquarters in Annapolis to let the school system know they were upset that negotiations had failed.

"There's no reason these people should be here," Paolino said, looking out over the marchers. "They should be home grading papers, preparing lessons for tomorrow.

"I really don't understand this. We understand this is a difficult time. We know that funds are tight. But we withdrew all fiscal items from the table. This is not about money. This is about being treated like professionals."

Teachers are facing tough times in other parts of the metropolitan area.

In Howard County, teachers held a rally last night to protest a decision by County Executive Charles I. Ecker to eliminate money from next year's budget for salary increases for %o educators.

The rally came after teachers held a "work-to-contract" job action three days last week, refusing to work after regular school hours. About 2,700 teachers have complied with the Howard County Education Association's decision to refuse to stay after school or take work home, association officials say.

In Carroll County, teachers are still bargaining, not protesting. "We're not quite at the point of taking those kinds of actions," said Maureen Dincher, president of the Carroll County Education Association.

But teachers in Carroll now are bargaining for less than they had hoped when they and the school board first came to the table last November. Then, the teachers were asking for an 8 percent salary raise. The board was offering 3 percent.

The two sides let those numbers sit as the county's budget forecasts for the coming fiscal year grew more depressing. Last week, the board withdrew its offer, saying it couldn't afford even 3 percent.

The two sides will meet again Thursday. The current contract expires at the end of the school year. But Dincher said she hoped for a settlement before the county commissioners pass the county budget late in May.

In Harford County, teachers and all other school employees will enter the last year of a three-year contract that calls for 8 percent raises, but County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has not proposed salary increases for teachers or any other county workers. The County Council has the final say on whether to fund the raises when it votes on the county budget by the end of next month.

In Baltimore, teachers are in the second year of a three-year contract that sets no specific salary levels for the third year, but cites the "goal" of reaching parity with salaries in surrounding suburban jurisdictions.

The city's 6,800 teachers received 8 percent salary increases in the first and second years of the contract, and are beginning negotiations with the city on salaries for the 1991-1992 school year, said Linda D. Prudente, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Teachers Union.

The Anne Arundel County teachers' union has agreed to forgo a cost-of-living adjustment until next year, if it can reach an agreement on non-fiscal items, Paolino said. Teachers are coming off a three-year contract that raised salaries 27 percent over its course.

Teachers are asking for more time to prepare for class by eliminating some of their clerical duties.

Last night, they carried signs that read, "I didn't get my master's degree to do potty duty," and "What Big Business Would Assign Professionals to Patrol Halls?"

TAAAC also is negotiating to keep school counselors as 12-month employees. The board has recommended making them 10-month employees.

"This just came out of the blue," said Vickie Coover, who has been a school counselor for seven years. "How would you like to have planned your budget and then find out in July you're not going to get what you expected?"

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