County, school board are sued for back pay

February 08, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County teachers and school secretaries are suing the county government and Board of Education for money they lost when furloughed for four days in response to last year's round of state budget cuts.

The Maryland State Teachers Association has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. this morning in Annapolis to announce the suit, which is similar to one filed last week against the Worcester County Board of Education.

"We want the counties to honor their contracts," association President Jane R. Stern said in a prepared statement.

The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC) and the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County (SAAAAC) would join the growing list of public employee unions in Maryland to sue local governments in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for money lost during the state's fiscal crisis.

The teachers, secretaries and assistants want about $4.3 million in back pay to make up for the days they were furloughed last spring.

Teachers and police unions in Baltimore won $3.3 million in back pay in September, when U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Young ruled that the furloughs unconstitutionally breached the union contracts.

The Worcester County teachers' union is seeking $740,000 in back pay for its employees.

The state teachers association is joining Anne Arundel County teachers in the suit. "We shook hands [with the county] and signed a contract to work a certain number of days at an agreed-upon rate," Ms. Stern said. "Halfway through the contract, the county reneged. That's not fair or legal."

Teachers received back about four-fifths of a day's pay in April, when the Board of Education told the unions that certain actions taken by the Maryland General Assembly had lowered the amount of decrease in state aid to local governments.

The unions argue that the reductions were unnecessary.

"Since the end of fiscal year 1992, financial reports that have been prepared by or on behalf of the defendant have demonstrated that the furloughs and the resulting reductions in the annual salaries of the bargaining unit employees represented by TAAAC and SAAAAC were not necessary to operate either the county or the Board of Education under a balanced budget," the suit charges.

The furloughs and salary cuts violated the contracts the unions had negotiated with the school board, the suit charges.

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