Balto. Co. Digest

April 01, 2008

Teachers to protest lack of raise

To protest a lack of across-the-board pay raises, county teachers are expected to "work to rule" today, putting in only the seven hours that their contract requires, taking a duty-free lunch and using all of their individual planning time.

Leaders with the Teachers Association of Baltimore County also have scheduled a rally for 4 p.m. at the county courthouse on Washington Street in Towson. Other county union workers, including members of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Health Nurses and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, are expected to join the teachers in a march at the courthouse.

The teachers union, which represents about 9,000 county teachers, scheduled its work-to-rule job action to coincide with the first day of Maryland School Assessment testing, the results of which are used to determine whether students are meeting statewide benchmark and federal standards.

"This not punishment to students or educators, but instead a visible sign of solidarity among educators taking a stand on an important issue," union leaders recently wrote in a flier on today's work-to-rule action. "It is designed to show the true working day for educators and that the many activities that students participate in after hours is donated time by dedicated education employees."

"The county executive has to change his priorities," Cheryl Bost, the teachers union president, said yesterday. "He should not be putting more money into surplus instead of investing in the work force."

Last month, the school board approved a proposed $1.18 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The budget includes a request for about $12 million for longevity and step increases for some teachers but does not include an across-the-board raise.

School system budget officials have estimated that a 1 percent raise for all teachers would cost about $5.2 million and that a 1 percent increase for all employees would cost about $7.9 million.

Gina Davis

Labor

Panel postpones action on dispute

Three members of a county arbitration panel met yesterday but decided against officially convening until the group has a full complement of five panelists to help resolve a labor dispute between the county and workers from two local unions.

Members said that because the panel's recommendations are due to be presented to the county executive by Saturday, the date by which county law requires bargaining to be complete, they hope to convene in the next few days.

The unions - the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees and the Baltimore County Federation of Public Health Nurses - requested the nonbinding arbitration last week after the county's labor commissioner rejected most of a fact-finder's recommendations in negotiations between the county and two unions, including one that the county give the workers a 3 percent pay raise.

According to the county Employee Relations Act, the panel is supposed to have five members serving staggered four-year terms. County officials said the panel was created in 1998 but has never been convened. The County Council appoints three members, the county executive appoints one, and the unions appoint one.

Gina Davis

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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