The Harford County Board of Education and the Harford County Education Association have tentatively agreed that a bonus for county employees proposed by County Executive David Craig will be distributed to teachers as a “one-time, non-precedent setting, $1,250 stipend”.
The tentative agreement made public by the school system this week was signed on Feb. 1 and covers the 3,200 teachers and other school employees represented by HCEA, the largest union in Harford County Public Schools. Subject to ratification by HCEA members in the next few days, the agreement is also conditioned upon funding by Harford County government.
The tentative agreement was reached following negotiations called for by the union. In those negotiations, HCEA took the position that the bonus money should be applied to increase the salary schedule, according to an email sent to HCEA members by Randy Cerveny, president of the union. HCEA also offered a proposal for a temporary salary increase, which would have enhanced the retirement benefit for those planning to retire within the next three years. Neither position was accepted by the school board, resulting in the agreement to distribute the funds as a one-time stipend in two, $625 installments. The first installment is to be paid within two weeks after the funding is appropriated by the county.
Included in the signed agreement is a statement that payment of the stipend “has no relationship to any matters before the Public School Labor Relations Board.” HCEA currently has a case before the newly established labor board and had planned to argue that the bonus payment should be used to fund salary increases that were tentatively agreed to in the teachers’ current contract but were not funded by the county.
The plan by HCEA to ask the labor board to include the bonus funding as a potential source of salary increases prompted a December veto by County Executive Craig. The line-item veto prevented the first half of the bonus from being paid to HCEA members, although it was paid to all other county employees, including those school employees not represented by HCEA.
Craig said at the time of his veto that the bonus, which came from an unanticipated accumulation in the General Fund balance, was intended be a one-time, non-recurring expense. Salary increases can be a recurring cost because they become part of teachers’ base pay in future years.
Following news of the agreement last week, Craig said in a statement that he looked forward to seeing the details of the agreement once it was approved and that he would work with the County Council to ensure that the funds were distributed to teachers as intended.
Below is a copy of the tentative agreement released by Harford County Public Schools. The agreement was signed on Febr. 1 by representatives of HCEA and the Harford County Board of Education.
Below is the text of the email sent by HCEA President Randy to HCEA members last week.
Last night, your HCEA negotiations team met with the Board negotiations team to discuss the disbursement of the $1250 supplemental funds from the County Executive.
Harford County Education Association put forth the position that the money should be applied to increase the salary schedule. The Board’s position was they did not want to have reoccurring costs because this is a one-time money being given by the County Council.
HCEA countered with a proposal to provide a temporary salary increase that would enhance the retirement benefit for the individuals planning to retire within the next three years. The Board refused this proposal because of the increased retirement costs that the school system would incur.
The Association and the Board reached a tentative agreement to provide the $1250 in two payments, while protecting our right with the Labor Board. HCEA will continue to pursue the funding of the FY 12 negotiated agreement through the Public Labor Relations Board.
You will receive a copy of the tentative agreement and a ballot by Monday, February 6, 2012. All ballots must be returned to the HCEA office by Friday, February 10, 2012 at 4pm.
President – HCEA