Teachers confront mayor in Annapolis

March 11, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron and Michael Dresser | Thomas W. Waldron and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

More than 100 Baltimore school employees confronted Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in the State House lobby last night, unleashing their anger over the pending overhaul of the Baltimore school system that they fear will undo some of their union protections.

Union members and supporters greeted the mayor with lusty boos last night as he entered the State House about 8 p.m. For about a half-hour, they surrounded Schmoke and vented their anger over the bill implementing the change, which is pending in the General Assembly.

Struggling to be heard over the din, Schmoke assured members of the Baltimore Teachers Union that he supported their efforts to add amendments to the bill to protect their collective bargaining rights. He suggested that it was legislators, not him, they should be shouting at.

"You hold my feet to the fire. You need to hold their feet to the fire, too," said the mayor, who had gone to Annapolis to meet with legislators.

At issue is a bill supported by Schmoke and Gov. Parris N. Glendening to create a new school board in Baltimore and a new school personnel system.

Under the legislation -- which seeks to settle lawsuits over conditions in the schools -- Schmoke would cede much of his control of the school system's operations.

In exchange for giving state officials a say in naming that board, the legislation would give the city school system $254 million in new state aid over the next five years.

State and city officials have agreed to amend the legislation to protect many of the school employees' collective bargaining rights. But several sticking points remain, including concerns about job transfer rights and unused sick leave many teachers have accumulated and could lose.

Union members made it plain that they had no confidence state officials would treat them fairly. "The state is the enemy of our children," Eleanor Nichols, an eighth-grade teacher at Lemmel Middle School, shouted at the mayor.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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