IMPASSE ON THE HORIZON
Negotiating Teams for the Board and TAAAC met today. A week ago, TAAAC presented its best and final offer which included the use of about $7.5 million for salary enhancements. A response from the Board along its own best and final offer was expected today. While not characterized as best and final by the Board’s team, it was explicitly stated as the best that can be offered for now. Sadly, the Board’s offer did not provide a single penny in salary increases. The TAAAC team made it very clear that there will be no voluntary agreement without salary increase. It is important that members understand the following:
While negotiating in 2009 the topic of furloughs reared its ugly head for the first time since the early 90’s and members lost their step increases for the first time in many decades, perhaps for the first time in TAAAC’s collective bargaining history. Then, it could not have been avoided, county revenues dropped steeply and were insufficient to support the salary scales in place at the time.
BUT, those negotiations resulted in a four-year agreement that gaves something back to members for the lost step. In return for the experience step lost in year #1, salary scales were restructured in years #2, #3, and #4 to effectively return to educators 1/3 of step each year until in year #4 the financial loss of a step would have been recovered. It was a promise made and memorialized in a collective bargaining agreement. As all are aware, none of that restructuring has ever been funded by Mr. Leopold and the County Council. Worse, two more steps have been lost since and a fourth may occur in two days when the Board imposes adopts conditions of employment on us in the absence of a tentative agreement. Unfortunately for all, county revues have not recovered very well.
Year #4 starts on July 1, and year #4 is different from the past three. The Board has the funding to provide at least a modest increase AND they have it in the necessary major funding categories so they do not need County Council approval. The Superintendent is planning to use it to hire more than 120 new educators because the Council would not agree to salary increases. We, your TAAAC negotiating team and leadership believe that a much better use of the money is to fulfill the promise made at the bargaining table.
Moreover, hiring the additional positions instead of paying those that are already here is putting Anne Arundel County in an everybody-but-us position. Counties all around the AACPS are treating their educators better; Montgomery County, steps plus 1% for those ineligible for steps; Howard County, similar to Montgomery, St. Mary’s 1.5%, plus steps; Charles County, double steps. Even Prince George, about the only county government in worse financial condition than our own, set aside $18 million for teacher raises. We can’t allow ourselves to be treated worse than every colleague in the state, especially when the Board has the money this year to do otherwise. Yes, the County Council would not take kindly to our getting a raise. But in this situation, defying the County Council is the right thing to do.
MEMBERS CAN HELP
The Anne Arundel County Board of Education meets at 10:00AM on Wednesday, June 20th. During that meeting, the Board members will reconcile its FY13 Budget and vote on Conditions of Employment for its employee groups who do not have a collective bargaining agreement. It would be helpful if the members of the Board hear from some of the educators they employ before votes are cast. Please take a moment to call or email a Board member and urge them to do the right thing.
Patricia Nalley, President, At-Large, 410-757-0454, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Pruski, Vice President, At- Large, 410-672-6987, Andrew.Pruski@aacps.org
Theresa Milio Birge, District 32, 410-674-5354, email@example.com
Amalie Brandenburg, District 33 (A and B), 410-980-2165, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin L. Jackson, 410-349-7465, Kevin.Jackson@aacps.org
Eugene Peterson, 301-490-0531, email@example.com
Deborah T. Ritchie, District 31, 443-534-2660, Deborah.Ritchie@aacps.org
Solon Webb, District 30, 410-267-0326, Solon.Webb@aacps.org
Jillian Buck, Student Member, 410-271-2944, Jillian.Buck@aacps.org
Feel free to use any of the above information as talking points. Or, share your personal experience and the hardship of sacrifices already made.