The following message was sent to members of the Harford County Education Association, the teachers’ union in Harford County Public Schools, by union president Randy Cerveny. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Further Information Regarding the 2011/12 Contract
The Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB) was established by the Maryland legislature to resolve public school employee labor disputes. On March 30, 2012, the PSLRB (which we’ll call the “Labor Board”), by a unanimous decision, found that the Harford County Board of Education was guilty of bad faith bargaining in its “re-negotiations” with HCEA in May/June 2011. HCPS and HCEA were ordered to engage in good faith negotiations within five (5) days of receipt of the Order.
HCEA immediately attempted to commence negotiations with the Board of Education. The Board of Education, however, responded by filing a Petition for Judicial Review in the Circuit Court for Harford County. Despite a reminder from the Labor Board that the filing of the Petition does not relieve the parties of their obligations to comply with its Order, the Board of Education told the Labor Board in a letter that it was not going to comply.
In response, HCEA wrote to the Labor Board outlining its attempts to comply with the Order. Further, HCEA expressed concern that it was being penalized by the Board of Education’s flagrant refusal to comply with the Labor Board. Moreover, the Labor Board’s Order was being undermined every day that passed because the Board of Education remained free to spend surplus dollars that may have, otherwise, been subjected to negotiations.
On April 27, 2012, the Labor Board filed a Petition to Enforce its Order against the Harford Board of Education in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Although HCEA was not a named party, we filed a Motion to Intervene in the proceedings in Anne Arundel County as a co-Petitioner with the Labor Board.
At the same time, HCEA filed its response to the Board of Education’s Petition for Judicial Review pending in Harford County, including a Motion to Dismiss the petition in light of the Labor Board’s enforcement action pending in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. This is presently in the process of being scheduled for a hearing.
On May 11, 2012, the Labor Board, in an aggressive move, filed a Motion for an Injunction against the Harford Board of Education in order to compel its compliance with the Labor Board’s Order pending the adjudication of the various proceedings in court. The Labor Board’s filing of this motion gives HCEA hope that the Board of Education will finally be forced into compliance.
Finally, amidst all the other filings in court, there is a battle over the proper venue for the hearing. The Board of Education is attempting to move the battle to Harford County. Such a move, however, appears unlikely as the Labor Board properly filed the matter in Anne Arundel County; and it is adamantly opposed to such a move.
It is time for the Board to stop spending its surplus dollars on legal fees fighting its basic statutory and contractual obligation to engage in negotiations with HCEA. The legal wrangling that has taken place to date reflects poorly on the Superintendent’s and this Board of Education’s regard for its employees, the students, or the working conditions that exist in the school system. Why is the Board of Education fighting this losing legal battle – throwing away good taxpayer dollars by doing so?
It appears that a hearing will be scheduled sometime during the week of May 21, 2012. We will keep you updated.
Randy Cerveny President – HCEA