House approves bill to allow more teacher union bargaining

Maryland's largest teachers union scored a significant legislative victory last night, winning approval from the House of Delegates for a bill to let them bargain such issues as curriculum and classroom assignments.

"This is going to open a greater opportunity for the professionals in schools to have a voice in the policies set by school boards," said Patricia A. Foerster, president of the 54,000-member Maryland State Teachers Association.


The MSTA is seeking the bill to allow -- but not require -- local school boards and unions to negotiate a broader range of issues.

The legislation originally would have allowed unions to negotiate such subjects as class size and the length of the school day and school calendar. But committee amendments prohibited those subjects from being part of negotiations.


The bill must be approved by the Senate, where supporters expect tougher opposition.

Although the bill has been significantly amended since it was introduced, local school systems still strongly oppose it.

"I can't tolerate a bill that undermines the interests of children and a bill that would cost more money to local governments," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat.

The bill -- approved 110-27 -- also would grant collective bargaining rights to support employees in Eastern Shore school systems, and to part-time support personnel across Maryland.