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Second school union bows to economic reality in negotiations


The speed of contract negotiations with some school workers this year is a result more of tough times than of smooth talk.

"When the kids start bringing in rolls of pennies and $2 bills and silver dollars, you know somebody's hurting," said Teresa Richards, a cafeteria worker at Spring Garden Elementary and negotiator for food service staff. "Those are things that people have in jars at home."

Food service workers were the second group to agree tentatively to a contract last week. Like the Carroll Association School Employees, they accepted step and longevity increases but no cost-of-living raise.

"We all agree there's no money," Richards said.

Cafeterias also have to break even, so any more of an increase in pay would have required an increase in lunch prices.

But most of those workers will have more money in their paychecks because the board will pay a higher percentage of the health insurance premium -- 100 percent for individual coverage and 95 percent for spouse and family plans.

Three other groups of workers were still negotiating with no sign of a quick settlement.

The Carroll County Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Administrators and Supervisors Association have sessions scheduled this week.

All parties are hoping to finish by Tuesday to let the Board of Education know how much money it will need to meet the negotiated contracts.

The board meets Wednesday morning and will vote on transferring money from its current budget for pay raises negotiated for the 1993 fiscal year.

Without the transfers, the $112.28 million proposed school budget for 1993 has no money allocated for salary increases.

The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center.

The county commissioners have indicated they would allow the board to transfer such money for pay raises.

All unions this year are pressing for expansion of family leave, or the use of sick leave to care for sick family members. It is allowed now for immediate family members, but only if they live with the employee.

The board agreed to allow food service workers and CASE members -- secretaries, nurses and assistants -- to use five sick days to care for adult children or elderly parents whether or not they live in the same household. It would also allow them to care for any member of the family who does live in their household regularly, such as a sister or grandparent.

Friday, teachers were haggling with the board's lawyer, Edward Gutman, about how a sick leave bank would be administered fairly.

A sick leave bank would allow employees to donate leave to be used by people who exhaust their own leave for a serious illness.

Teachers asked for a two-year contract with a cost-of-living raise built in for the second year, but Gutman said the board would not agree.

Also Friday, AFSCME, which represents custodians, maintenance workers, bus drivers and their assistants, was discussing several non-money items in the contract.

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