Santa sings blues at party for schools

December 23, 1997|By Stephen Henderson | Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF

"We've got no contract. We get no respect. We've got lots of work, so what do we get? Santa Claus ain't coming to town!"

The round man with the red suit and white beard giggled as he sang the words, to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." But his Christmas message wasn't supposed to be funny.

It was a poorly sung missive from city teachers, apparently angry with the Baltimore school board and Robert E. Schiller, the interim schools chief, over stalled contract talks.

The singing Santa crashed the board's Christmas party at school headquarters last night to deliver his lyrical message, much to the surprise of board members, administrators and staff members who were merrily consuming appetizers and punch (nonalcoholic, of course).

The board and the Baltimore Teachers Union have been locked for months in tense negotiations, and both sides acknowledge that no agreement is likely to be reached before year's end. City teachers have been working under an expired contract for nearly two years and have lobbied for a substantial raise.

The two sides reportedly were close to a resolution last week but were still unable to agree on a deal.

Response to the union's message was good-natured at the party.

Schiller laughed as the hired Santa peppered him and the board with not-so-merry Christmas wishes.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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