Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

April 13, 2007

Union agrees to vote on labor contract

Officials from the Baltimore County government and the union representing its civilian workers will allow the union's members to vote on a proposed labor contract that includes pay raises and a contentious change in retirement benefits.

Negotiators for the county and the local chapter of the Federation of Public Employees missed last week's deadline for an agreement.

But two County Council members asked representatives from both sides this week to allow the union's members to vote on a county proposal that union negotiators had rejected.

"I thought it was only fair that ... membership should have an up or down vote on it," said Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat.

Under the county's proposal, the 1,700 employees represented by the union would receive a 3 percent cost-of-living increase, and more than half of the employees would receive additional raises as high as 10 percent.

But union leaders opposed a change that would force employees with less than 30 years' service to work until age 65, instead of 60, to receive full retirement benefits. They also wanted guaranteed pay raises on top of cost-of-living increases for all members.

Jim Miller, president of the county FPE, said employees have received incomplete information about the proposal and the union's reasons for rejecting it.

"We thought the only way to clarify it was to have a meeting" and allow members to vote, Miller said.

He said he expects a vote among the union's 400 dues-paying members within the next three weeks. If members turn down the county proposal, employees represented by the union would operate under the current contract for at least another year.

A spokesman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said he believes most of the union's members favor the county's deal.

"We think it's a significant financial package," said the spokesman, Donald I. Mohler. "Now let's see if the union members agree with us or not."

Josh Mitchell

Accident

Woman identified in fatal crash

Baltimore County police have identified a Baltimore woman who died after the vehicle she was driving crashed into a bridge abutment and burst into flames, authorities said yesterday.

Shortly before 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, Catrina Marie Cusimano, 25, of the 4400 block of Newport Ave., was driving a 2002 Chevrolet S-10 truck north in the 11700 block of Harford Road near Fork when the vehicle left the road and struck a bridge abutment, authorities said.

The truck burst into flames and trapped Cusimano behind the steering wheel, county police said. She died at the scene, and investigators were awaiting autopsy results.

The county police crash team is investigating the accident, authorities said.

Nick Shields

Traffic

I-95 crash closes two lanes

An overturned tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 sent the driver to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and temporarily closed two northbound lanes for about six hours yesterday, state police said.

At 5:45 a.m. yesterday, the driver of a Honda Accord traveling north on Interstate 95 near Mountain Road at the Baltimore County/Harford County line, lost control of the vehicle and struck a guardrail, state police said. The driver of the Honda, who was not injured, was not identified.

As the vehicle swerved back into traffic, the tractor-trailer, driven by Kenneth E. Kawsch, 53, of Baltimore, attempted to avoid the car but struck an embankment, trapping the driver inside, state police said.

Kawsch was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he was listed in fair condition yesterday afternoon, police said.

About 9:15 a.m. yesterday, a truck traveling on the outer loop of the Beltway near Pikesville spilled gravel, causing authorities to shut down three lanes for about an hour and snarling traffic for miles as state highway crews cleaned the debris.

Nick Shields

Brooklandville

Jacoby to speak at Park School

Environmental expert Henry Jacoby, a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, will be the guest speaker Monday at the Park School.

Jacoby will speak to the Climate Change Group about his work on the natural and social science aspect of global climate changes and the policy and management studies needed to support the development of a domestic and global response.

Formed in 2005, the Climate Change Group is a collection of Park School teachers and students seeking to further their understanding of the causes and effects of global warming.

They meet once a week to discuss what they are learning, share information and continue research.

Jacoby will be at the school, 2425 Old Court Road, Brooklandville, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For information, contact Hillary Jacobs at 410-339-4126.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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