Teachers union delays vote on work-to-rule boycott

Some educators refuse extracurricular activities

September 27, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

After an unprecedented 3 1/2 -hour meeting, union representatives from all of Carroll County's public schools decided last night to delay voting on whether to join five of the schools where teachers - in a work-to-rule action - are boycotting after-school activities for which they are not paid.

Representatives from the Carroll County Education Association asked their Crisis Committee - formed several months ago after contract talks with the school board broke down - to define what "working to rule" would mean, union leaders said last night. Then, the faculty of each school will decide whether to join the most aggressive job action Carroll teachers have taken in 20 years.

"Everybody here commended the schools for taking the stand they already have. The sense is that we have a lot of very, very good reasons for going public the way we have," union representative Hal Fox said after the meeting in the cafeteria of Winters Mill High.

The work-to-rule job action began at Linton Springs Elementary late last month and gradually spread to four other Carroll schools, where some teachers have decided to work more closely to the terms of their contract and refuse before- and after-school activities.

The conflict is rooted in years of county government inadequately funding the school system, Fox said. But another issue is "a sense by the entire organization - by all the teachers - that they are not given the respect they deserve from the administration, including the elected board, and they don't believe the community realizes how difficult delivering the quality of education that we want to deliver has become."

The meeting began with the 65 elected union representatives from the county's 37 schools venting their frustrations and anger for an hour to school board Vice President Susan Holt and Stephen Guthrie, the school system's assistant superintendent of administration.

"It was beneficial listening to their concerns, and their frustrations are real," Holt said. "We are looking at a lot of the issues, and they're not new."

The Crisis Committee - led by former union President Ralph Blevins, who teaches social studies at North Carroll Middle School - is expected to meet Monday. Faculties of the 32 schools not involved in the work-to-rule protest are expected to make a decision on whether to join in within two weeks, Fox said.

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