Nurses leader sues head of teachers union

February 18, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

The president of Baltimore County's nurses union has filed criminal assault charges against the director of the county teachers union after a dispute at a meeting of elementary school nurses Tuesday night.

The criminal summons charges Thomas E. Harvey, director of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO), with assault and battery and trespassing. Mr. Harvey has denied the accusations and said he didn't know a summons had been issued.

A summons is an order to appear in court. Trial is scheduled for March 22 in Towson District Court.

The incident allegedly occurred during a meeting of the Professional Staff Nurses Association (PSNA), held at the Days Inn on Loch Raven Boulevard near the Beltway. Susan Orthaus, PSNA president, said she asked a secondary school nurse, who is also a TABCO board member, to leave the meeting because "it was inappropriate for her to be there."

PSNA and TABCO are competing to represent the county's 137 elementary school nurses, whose jobs were transferred last year from the county health department to the school board. PSNA represents those nurses, who make up a large part of its membership.

PSNA, which is negotiating an informal labor agreement for the nurses with the school board, called the meeting to give a progress report.

Both sides agree that the nurse who was ordered to leave returned with Mr. Harvey and TABCO Vice President Michael Bond. They also agree that Mr. Harvey was asked to leave the meeting room.

Ms. Orthaus, who obtained the summons Wednesday, said she escorted Mr. Harvey into the hallway to talk, but claimed "he started yelling at me, screaming in my face." She also said that when she tried to re-enter the meeting room, Mr. Harvey pinned her against a wall.

TABCO alone has the legal authority to negotiate a binding contract for most school employees, but does not have legal authority to represent elementary school nurses. It is seeking a change in state law this General Assembly session that would let bargain for elementary school nurses.

Mr. Harvey said his union should represent the elementary school nurses because TABCO already represents the 50 secondary school nurses and because TABCO can negotiate a binding contract.

PSNA represents the elementary nurses, but can only negotiate a nonbinding agreement.

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