Members of a union for Harford County educators have accepted an agreement with the school system that will allow members to accept a one-time bonus that had been held up for months over a disagreement with County Executive David R. Craig.
Nearly 2,000 Harford government employees received the first half of the $1,250 bonus in December and expect the remaining money in June. But the teachers union rejected the offer, saying Craig did should have run the offer by union and school board first. Failure to follow that policy undermines the union's collective bargaining rights, said Randall Cerveny, association president.
The dispute pitted Craig against a union in which he was once a member. The $11 million for the bonus payments comes from a $32 million surplus in the FY12 budget.
Craig, a Republican, who is term-limited and considering a bid for higher office, offered the bonus to all count employee for their efforts during what has been a fiscally trying time for county, he has said. The recession meant furlough days and increased work load for many. Eight of the county's employee unions readily accepted the bonus offer.
Craig had said he was willing to negotiate the bonus with HCEA but wanted an agreement that the bonus was one-time-only payment. He had previously rejected the teachers' request for a modest pay raise, claiming the county budget could not sustain salary increases until the economy recovered. He set a March 1 deadline for an agreement. Otherwise, he vowed the money would be returned to the general fund.
Before teachers can receive a check, the County Council must authorize the measure. The council's approval is expected early next week.
Baltimore Sun reporter Steve Kilar contributed to this article.