After going to court, principals won't be offered longevity raise

August 26, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County school board's dispute with the principals union will be resolved in court and not with a longevity raise, board President Michael A. Pace said yesterday.

Though the board offered three other employee unions a longevity raise this week in exchange for concessions on health insurance, Mr. Pace said the board is "not going to offer anything" to the principals.

"They've taken us to litigation," he said. "This is the forum they've chosen."

The other unions are expected to accept the board's offer.

The labor dispute with the more than 7,000 school union employees arose this summer when the board announced it would withhold longevity raises, even though union contracts say such a raise would take effect July 1.

In an unusual show of solidarity, the unions pledged their support for one another. The Association of Educational Leaders (AEL), which represents about 250 principals and administrators, sued to force the board to honor its contract.

Richard Kovelant, president of AEL, was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment. But late Wednesday night he said he could not believe that his union members are "the only 250 employees who aren't getting anything."

In figuring the $408 million operating budget, the board decided it was inadequate to cover the $3.2 million needed for longevity raises for all employees.

Mr. Pace said that because the County Council rejected the school board's request for $444 million, the board could renegotiate certain issues, such as longevity. He also said the union concessions would cover the raises and allow the board to hire 10 more teachers.

Jim Pickens, president of Local 1693 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said his union was "pleased with the agreement, but we don't feel good about the process." The local is expected to accept the offer during a vote Sept. 10, he said.

Mr. Pickens also said he is eager to have a court rule on whether the school board could withdraw the raise.

The secretaries union also was prepared to ratify the offer. Dee Zepp, the union president, said the board's refusal to make a similar offer to AEL "is ridiculous." She said her union would continue to refuse overtime in support of AEL if the principals begin a job action Monday, when school starts.

A job action by principals and administrators could affect plans for "back to school" nights and night football games, which bring in money for sports programs. However, Mr. Pace said he didn't anticipate any problems Monday.

On Wednesday, the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County became the first union to approve the board's offer. John Kurpjuweit, president of the teachers union, said he didn't understand the board's refusal to bargain with AEL.

"I can't see how a lawsuit can be used as an excuse not to bargain," he said. "The first thing you do when you're sued is attempt to bargain it away."

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