4 Arundel school unions form coalition for advocacy efforts

More than 8,700 employees joining forces on system issues

March 18, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Four unions of Anne Arundel County school employees have formed a coalition to share information on issues that affect members and to coordinate advocacy efforts.

The Coalition of Educational Employees will represent more than 8,700 teachers, principals, secretaries, instructional assistants, custodians, school bus drivers and food service workers.

"Over the course of the last year we've recognized there are many issues that we share," said Sheila M. Finlayson, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, at a news conference Wednesday.

The group will meet regularly, but its member unions will maintain separate identities for negotiations and resolution of grievances.

Last fall, the unions experienced the benefits of collaboration when they came together to oppose an administration proposal to switch a health care plan held by many employees. School officials eventually dropped the bid.

"We found ourselves on common ground," said Richard Kovelant, executive director and general counsel of the Association of Educational Leaders. The group represents employees such as principals and assistant principals.

"It's a natural relationship," said Charles Jansky, AEL president and principal of Riviera Beach Elementary School. "Out in the buildings, all groups come together."

There are other benefits. As another group representing employees, the coalition can send delegates to the school board nominating convention. The other unions that are part of the coalition are the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1693.

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