A fair, impartial arbiter
MSEA leaders attend the signing of the FINA.
In 2010, legislators passed a badly need fix to Maryland’s antiquated education labor law. The Fairness in Negotiations Act (FINA) finally leveled the playing field in negotiations between local school boards and local associations.
In the two years that the Labor Board has been meeting, it has proven its value as a fair, impartial arbiter in contract disputes between school systems and employees. However, FINA—and the Labor Board—are due to sunset in mid-2015. We need the Labor Board to continue to dependably serve as a fair, impartial arbiter in contract disputes between school systems and employees by removing the Board’s sunset clause.
Along with the public servants who depend on the State Labor Relations Board and the Higher Education Labor Relations Board, school employees deserve the fair and impartial process to settle labor disputes provided by the Public School Labor Relations Board.
What the Labor Board means for you
With the Labor Board, the days of waiting months, and sometimes years, to finalize contract negotiations are over. Local boards of education can no longer drag negotiations on and on, keeping you from hard-fought improvements in benefits, salary, and working conditions.
The Labor Board is in place to resolve labor disputes between local boards of education and local associations within a specific time frame. The decision is final and binding for both parties. If either party disagrees with the decision of the labor relations board, the dissenting party can appeal to the circuit court.
Why it’s important
The Labor Board has served as a neutral third party to mediate and then, if necessary, arbitrate contract negotiation disputes between a local public school employer and the public school employees. The Board has corrected the problem of indeterminate delays in resolving differences and set up a timely and efficient process that has helped maintain strong, positive working relationships in our schools.
Before the passage of FINA, the State Board of Education decided what could and couldn’t be negotiated at the local bargaining table. To no one’s surprise, the board’s decisions often favored management over employees. According to FINA sponsor Senator Jamie Raskin (Dist. 20), it was, “like having your opponent in a sporting event supply the referee.” However, it is worth noting that the county fiscal authority’s final determination on public school system budgets remains unchanged, and the State Board of Education’s ability to make education policy is unaffected.