Law sabotages collective bargaining in Md. education
THE NATIONAL Education Association has named Maryland’s Martin O’Malley (D) America’s greatest education governor. Little wonder. Just days before Mr. O’Malley picked up his award, a new law took effect in Maryland that undercuts local control in collective bargaining by giving a significant new advantage to teachers unions, one they had been seeking for decades.
The Fairness in Negotiations Act attracted little attention when it was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in May by the governor. But it has major implications for school labor contracts, and they are not positive. The measure, which took effect July 1, strips the Maryland State Board of Education of authority to resolve labor disputes between local school boards and unions representing school employees. Instead it creates a Public School Labor Relations Board, which will consist of two members nominated by unions, two members recommended by school boards and superintendents and a fifth to be independent but with experience in labor relations. The Maryland State Education Association, the NEA affiliate that represents employees in 23 of the state’s 24 school districts, ardently sought the change, framing it as an issue of fairness to employees working in kindergarten through 12th grade.