School nurses ask support for a bill that would allow them to join union

February 02, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

A group of Howard County public school nurses, angry about having no collective-bargaining rights, asked state lawmakers last night to support legislation that would allow them to join the union that represents school system employees.

"We feel that we deserve the right to be recognized as professionals," Ginger Smith, a registered nurse who works as a substitute nurse in the schools, told members of the county's General Assembly delegation.

Several of the lawmakers held a public hearing last night at the George Howard county office building in Ellicott City on six bills that the delegation has been asked to introduce in this year's General Assembly session.

Ms. Smith was one of three nurses who testified during the hearing. She told the lawmakers that she had to resign in order to take medical leave in December. She said that would not have occurred had she been represented by a union as are other school system employees. When she sought to get her job back, she was given only a part-time position as a substitute, she said.

"I have no place to voice my grievance," Ms. Smith said.

In support of the nurses, James Swab, president of the Howard County Educational Association, said, "The HCEA believes that all school employees are entitled to collective-bargaining rights and legal representation."

He asked the lawmakers to approve the bill.

The county has 23 registered nurses, seven of whom attended last night's meeting. They won support from some delegates.

"I think they have some valid points," said Del. Virginia Thomas, D-District 13A, who is sponsoring the bill that is being considered by the delegation. "They should be in the professional union."

On another matter, two hotel owners opposed a bill that would make permanent the 5 percent room rental tax, saying it hurts their business. The tax went into effect July 1, 1992, for two years. It adds 5 percent to the cost of renting a hotel room and raises about $1 million a year in county revenue.

Wayne Pool, who owns the 45-room Tip Top Motel near Elkridge, and Claude Sacker, owner of the Hillside Hotel in Elkridge, said the tax has hurt business.

"This tax has been killing us," said Mr. Pool who has 10 employees. He had to lay off one employee because business had dropped off by about 40 percent since the tax went into effect.

The delegation will also consider a sports facility parking tax, targeted at the proposed Washington Redskins stadium in Laurel.

The bill would impose a tax on spaces at parking facilities near the proposed stadium.

The delegation will also consider a bill that would create a micro-brewery license for entrepreneurs who want to brew their own beer for sale. The nine-member delegation is to vote on the bills today.

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