Teachers, city at odds over how to recoup wage freeze Teachers want pay sooner. City would pay later.

May 23, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

The head of the Baltimore Teachers Union opposes the city's offer of a lump-sum payment at retirement as a way of compensating teachers for the citywide wage freeze in the 1991-1992 school year.

Instead, the union leadership is pushing its own plan, a 6 percent wage increase spread evenly over three years, starting in the 1992-93 school year, as way to make up for the coming wage freeze.

Under the teachers union proposal, that 6 percent increase would come in addition to any future salary increases negotiated in separate contract talks with the city.

Both plans were expected to come up for discussion and a possible vote at an emergency meeting of the teachers union this afternoon at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Earlier this year, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke ordered a freeze on wage increases for city workers in the coming year as a way of bridging a budget shortfall of $54.1 million. The move, which is expected to save $38 million, already has sparked a legal challenge from the firefighters union.

The teachers are in the second year of a three-year contract that gave 8 percent wage increases in its first two years and left salaries open for negotiation in the third year.

Teachers know they will not get an increase in the 1991-92 year because of the freeze, said BTU President Irene B. Dandridge, and they want to recoup the year's worth of lost increases in some fashion.

But she criticized the city's plan, which calls for teachers and paraprofessionals to receive a lump-sum payment amounting to 6 percent of their 1991 salary when they retire or leave the system.

She said it would be years before many teachers would see any of that money, and noted that the payments would not be adjusted for inflation.

Also, a teacher's retirement pay is based on the salary in the three years before retirement -- and the lump-sum payment xTC would not be included in that base.

"I expect the members to reject it because it is such a ridiculous proposal," said Dandridge. "It asks some teachers to wait 27 years to get 6 percent."

But Jesse E. Hoskins, the city's acting labor commissioner, said the city's offer is the best it can do.

"The city financially doesn't have the money to appropriate those wages for 1992," he said. "We're pretty strapped for funds." He said the city is projecting revenue growth of about 1.5 percent in fiscal 1993.

Hoskins said the 6 percent lump-sum payment at retirement is the same offer being made to other city unions.

The offer is separate from negotiations being held between the city and the teachers union on its overall salary schedule.

The current contract commits the city to the goal of bringing Baltimore teacher salaries into parity with those in surrounding counties.

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