CCBC teachers ask board for recognition of union

December 11, 2003|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Faculty members of the Community College of Baltimore County packed a meeting of its board of trustees last night asking for recognition of their newly formed union.

But the chairman of the board, Francis X. Kelly, said the board does not have the authority to recognize the union. He said state legislation would be necessary.

More than 70 percent of the college's 360 full-time faculty members have signed cards authorizing the union - an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers - to represent them in collective bargaining, union leaders said.

About 100 people attended last night's meeting, holding signs with messages including "Fairness, Input, Respect."

The move comes in response to an array of concerns at CCBC's campuses in Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville, said Regina Shea, a union leader and an associate professor of accounting at the Essex campus. At the top of the list, she said, is the concern that teachers have lost their voice in decision-making in recent years.

She said teachers are upset about recent changes to their health benefits that in some cases required them to switch doctors, and want to see the "inordinate amount of time" they spend on administrative paperwork reduced. She said they also want to revisit the issues of tenure and job security.

Tenure was abolished for new faculty in the mid-1990s. As a result, Shea said, "We've become a revolving door for faculty. They're afraid to speak up. They're afraid to take a 30-year mortgage and put roots down in this state because they never know when they're going to be terminated."

Chancellor Irving P. McPhail and Kelly were not available to comment on specific complaints before yesterday's meeting.

McPhail expressed his strong opposition to a faculty union in an open letter to the campus last month that the union posted on its Web site.

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