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Maryland - Arbitrator: School System Can't Use Temps, Subs to Evade Contract

A grievance arbitrator has ruled that Prince George’s County Public Schools may not use temporary and substitute employees to undermine its contract with the Association of Classified Employees (ACE)/AFSCME Local 2250.

Upper Marlboro, Maryland

A grievance arbitrator has ruled that Prince George’s County Public Schools may not use temporary and substitute employees to undermine its contract with the Association of Classified Employees (ACE)/AFSCME Local 2250.

The union filed the grievance in July 2008 immediately after discovering, during contract negotiations, that Maryland’s second largest school system had employed all of its 2,240 temporary and substitute workers for more than 60 days. More than 400 began their latest assignment more than a year prior to the union’s discovery.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” says ACE/AFSCME Local 2250 Exec. Dir. Richard Putney. A day later, the union filed a grievance charging the Board of Education with violating the contract.

Arbitrator Andrew Strongin agreed. He ruled that the board circumvented the contract “by intentionally creating a second class of employees who, for all practical purposes, perform bargaining unit work without the benefit of any of the negotiated contractual provisions.”

Prince George’s County has agreed to pay the union more than $1 million over three years for union dues that would have been collected had the temporary workers been in the bargaining unit from the date the grievance was filed until the arbitrator rendered his decision.

In addition, the parties agreed that the county would bring temporary and substitute positions into the bargaining unit over the three-year-period, although talks continue over which positions — and how many actual jobs — will be merged into the unit.

Also, a monitoring process has been established to allow the union to police future compliance with the contract. Says Putney: “This is a great victory!”