Prince George's County's 8,000 school teachers will be seeking additional cost-of-living increases and more fringe benefits when contract negotiations begin next month, a spokesman for the teachers said this week.
The teachers, whose two-year contract expires this year, will vote Monday on list of "negotiations concepts" to be used in the bargaining sessions, which in past years often been tumultuous. Negotiations are scheduled to continue through October.
Frederick Rummage, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Educations' Association, said teachers have not yet agreed on a figure for their for their cost-of-living increase request. He said however, that additional wages and fringe benefits would be key issues during contract negiotations.
Other important issues will include streamlining procedures for grievance and arbitration as well as revising the seniority clauses of the contract that is now expiring, he added.
Rummage said teachers are ready to begin negotiations Oct. 20 with a Jan 1, deadline for signing.
Montgomery County teachers this year negotiated a three-year contract with their school system calling for a 6 per cent salary increase the first year and a maximum 5 per cent cost-of-living increase the following two years.
During negotiations two years ago for the contract that is expiring this year, Prince George's County teachers threatened to walk out. They were angered when the school board granted an 8 per cent pay raise which the county council refused to fund, saying the money was not available. The teachers later agreed to a 4 per cent pay increase and threatened walkouts never occurred.
School board member Maureen K. Steinecke of District 1 said, "We will have to discover a new method of saving if we are to maintain the level of cost-of-living increases that have occurred for teachers in the past." Steineck said that she doubted that cost-of-living increases would continue to rise at the rate they have in the past.
The school board has not yet met in executive session to discuss strategies for negotiating with the teachers, Steinecke said.
Recently the Prince George's County Educators' Association lashed out at the county board of education with three criticisms. According to a spokesman for the teachers, the board had "failed to give teachers the immediate option, at no cost to the county, of joining a health maintenance organization."
The spokesman also said the county has failed to give full professional benefits to teachers in federal programs in the couty school system and has adopted an "employee conflict on interest" resolution without first negotiating with the teachers. The teachers' union spokesman had modified the complaint about the county's failure to include teachers in the health maintenance organization after working out an agreement with the school system. The spokesman said the other two complaints by county teachers remain unresolved.
School spokesmas John Aubuchon said he was "completely mystified" by the complaints and that they are probably timed to coincide with contract negotiations.
Aubuchon said he could not comment on any of the charges by the teachers' association because in one case the county attorney is looking into the issue and in the other case the school board will have to decide the merits of the case.