Officials with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the agreement includes a 4.1 percent pay raise this summer and expanded leave benefits, as well as the creation of a labor-management committee to address future issues.
The contract, which still must be ratified by union members and approved by university President C.D. Mote Jr. and the state Board of Regents, is the first at College Park since lawmakers approved collective bargaining rights for college employees in 2001.
_____Avian Flu Facts_____
Q. What is avian flu?
A. Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The disease, which was first identified in Italy more than 100 years ago, occurs worldwide.
Q. Is avian flu contagious?
A. Yes. All birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza, though some species are more resistant to infection than others. The first documented infection of humans with an avian influenza virus occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, when the H5N1 strain caused severe respiratory disease in 18 humans, of whom 6 died.
Q. What are the symptoms of avian flu?
A. Published information on human infection is limited to studies of the 1997 Hong Kong outbreak. Symptoms included fever, sore throat, cough and, in several of the fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia.
Q. How do you treat avian flu?
A. The quarantining of infected farms and destruction of infected or potentially exposed flocks are standard control measures aimed at preventing spread to other farms and eventual establishment of the virus in a country’s poultry population.
Q. How can you protect yourself against avian flu?
A. Workers involved in the culling of poultry flocks must be protected, by proper clothing and equipment, against infection. These workers should also receive antiviral drugs as a prophylactic measure.
Q. How effective is the vaccine?
A. Vaccination of persons at high risk of exposure to infected poultry, using existing vaccines effective against currently circulating human influenza strains, can reduce the likelihood of co-infection of humans with avian and influenza strains.
• WHO Fact Sheet
• CDC: Avian Flu Information
Source: World Health Organization
Union officials said negotiations are underway on a contract for the university's 1,000 non-faculty professional employees.
House Rejects Bill on Driver's Licenses
The House of Delegates turned back an attempt yesterday to prohibit the state from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-Anne Arundel) attempted to add the ban to a bill introduced by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) dealing with criminal background checks for drivers licensed to operate trucks carrying hazardous materials.
McMillan's amendment was rejected on a 95 to 42 vote after a debate that dealt with security risks from terrorists and the need to uphold House procedures and tradition.
McMillan sponsored a bill to ban issuance of licenses to people who are not in the country legally, but it was killed last week by the House Judiciary Committee. He attempted to get around the committee by offering his bill as an amendment to the governor's bill.
Democratic leaders argued that the House would set a bad precedent if it begins to add measures that have been killed in committee onto other bills.
"We work through a committee process," said Del. John A. Hurson (D-Montgomery).
Va. Shuts Down Landfill Over Violations
The state of Virginia shut down the Battle Creek Landfill in Page County on Wednesday after a legal ruling found that the county-owned facility had repeatedly accepted more trash than allowed under its state permit.
Francis L. Daniel, a hearing officer who evaluated the landfill's behavior, cited "a pattern of serious, repeated violations which demonstrate the permittee's disregard for or inability to comply with applicable laws, regulations or requirements."
Last summer, the landfill's actions generated a political feud between Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R). Warner officials had accused Kilgore of failing to enforce the state's environmental regulations.
Wednesday, Kilgore praised the ruling. In a statement, he said, "This ruling says that if you exceed the limits the Commonwealth sets, there will be consequences."
Leesburg Testing 20 Homes for Lead
The town of Leesburg is testing the water in 20 homes for lead this week and expects the results next week.
The testing sites are all single-family houses built between 1983 and 1986, when lead solder was permissible in construction. Leesburg last tested 66 such sites in 2001, and because of good results its next Environmental Protection Agency-required test would be 33 such homes this June.
"There is no reason to believe we have any problem whatsoever," said Town Manager Robert S. Noe Jr. at a town meeting Tuesday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I still wish he would get the death sentence, because I feel Malvo was as responsible as Muhammad."
-- Vijay Walekar, brother of sniper victim Premkumar A. Walekar, on the life sentence given to Lee Boyd Malvo. Like John Allen Muhammad, who has been sentenced to die for one of the shootings, Malvo may face further prosecutions. -- Page A1
Compiled from reports by staff writers Lindsey Layton, Justin Blum, Lila Arzua, Nurith C. Aizenman, Amy Argetsinger and Michael D. Shear and the Associated Press.