Seniority issues hold up contract with school union

April 14, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

The Carroll school board and the union that represents secretaries and teaching assistants came within inches of declaring an impasse yesterday, unable to agree on a contract for the 1993-1994 school year.

The other four school employee unions settled last week, but the Carroll Association of School Employees and the man assigned by the school board to negotiate with them continue to clash over issues of seniority.

They did, however, agree to meet Monday.

An impasse could mean the union and the school system would need to spend $1,000 to $5,000 for a mediator.

CASE has offered to wrap up talks by agreeing to the basic items other unions in the system got, if both sides would withdraw the more complicated issues.

But the school board rejected that offer last week, and again yesterday.

Edwin Davis, the board's director of pupil services and chief negotiator, continues to press the union to agree to a new policy on involuntary transfers for instructional assistants that does not take into account their seniority.

The board has rejected every proposal CASE has made, most of which dealt with job security and promotions. CASE's chief negotiator, Steven Bittner, said he would consider the change for transferring assistants only if the board will discuss some proposals he has made to boost protection for senior employees in other ways.

Mr. Davis said he might be willing to discuss those after CASE and the board agree on removing seniority from the transfer policy for assistants.

"The only proposals you want to discuss are your proposals," Mr. Bittner said.

Mr. Bittner said CASE would accept the main items other unions settled for: a two-year contract with a 3 percent raise each year and continuing current insurance coverage.

Mr. Davis said the issue of transferring assistants was important to the board, and one that could cause an impasse.

The contract now requires involuntary transfers of assistants to go according to job description and seniority. The board wants it to be solely on the training and job description.

Mr. Bittner said that if the board takes away the seniority protection for transfers, it should be willing to agree to the CASE proposal on promotions. The union wants the contract to require that, all other qualifications being equal, the employee with the most seniority will get preference in promotions.

Mr. Davis said the board believes only the best person should be hired for a job.

"Their [CASE's] proposal gives less emphasis to the best person and more emphasis to the seniority," Mr. Davis said.

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