Unions representing Anne Arundel County school employees, angry at being shunned by school board negotiators who had offered to discuss a promised longevity raise, say they will file three grievances and begin "job actions" that could delay school openings in August.
The union representing principals and administrators also is considering a lawsuit.
County school board negotiators, seeking to withdraw a promised longevity raise, invited two of four employee unions to a meeting Friday, then refused to talk to them.
"I'm puzzled by the fact that they refused to meet with us," said Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC). "Apparently, they didn't like our consultants."
In an unusual alliance, representatives for TAAAC, the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County, Local 1693 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Association of Educational Leaders have agreed to help each other during talks with the school board. The unions represent about 7,400 employees. The board wants to reopen negotiations to withdraw a longevity raise. The raise is scheduled to take effect July 1, with a 4 percent pay increase. The 4 percent raise has not been mentioned in talks.
Thomas Twombly, school board president, refused to comment Friday.
"They invited us to the bargaining table to discuss the health plan and mileage, that's what their letter said," Mr. Paolino said. "We're willing to negotiate on the health plan and mileage, but we won't talk about longevity."
Budget analysts and an associate superintendent say the board wants to renegotiate because the fiscal 1995 budget contains less money than expected. The board asked for $444 million, but the County Council approved $408 million.
The budget included $3.2 million to cover the longevity raise, which was partially funded by $1.7 million the council cut from health care.
The school board wants to hire more than 50 additional employees, positions cut by the council.
Union leaders said labor relations have been "harmonious," until now.
"The only reason it's horrible this time is that there's a difference between what happens when you don't get the money and you can't give it, and when you get it and you won't give it," said Richard Kovelant, president of the Educational Leaders group.