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Higher Education Board Meeting Minutes

April 25, 2002
Ways and Means Committee Hearing Room
Lowe House Office Building
Annapolis , Maryland

1. Chairman Raskin called the meeting to order at 6:10pm . The following members were present: Jamin Raskin, David Merkowitz, Leo Gant, Harriet Cooperman & Susan Schurman.

2. The first order of business was to approve the minutes from the Board’s February 28, 2002 meeting.Board member David Merkowitz moved and Leo Gant seconded the motion to approve the minutes.Mr. Merkowitz noted that there may be non-substantive corrections to the minutes as well. The motion to approve the minutes carried.

3. Chairman’s Report

Chairman Raskin stated that the Salisbury Unfair Labor Practice hearing had taken

place during the afternoon of April 25, 2002 , and that the Board would communicate with the parties sometime in the next week with information as to how to proceed in the case.

4. Executive Director’s Report

Mr. Pence stated that the HELRB offices would be relocating in mid-May and that we would be up and running by May 13th from those new offices. Mr. Pence also noted that the Board would be permitted to use the large Board hearing room that will be located in the new office and that there would be free parking for attendees. Chairman Raskin asked if there would be a celebration for the move. Mr. Pence indicated that there would be an open house for Board members as well as Union and University representatives.

Mr. Pence noted that the University of Maryland , Eastern Shore had held an election in it’s Exempt Employee Unit, in which AFSCME had prevailed and there were no problems with that election.

Mr. Pence also noted that this week is Administrative Assistant’s Week and that the HELRB office would be honoring Denise Galante in appreciation for her hard work for the office. Chairman Raskin gave Board recognition to Denise as well.

Chairman Raskin next asked Mr. Pence about the electronic election at the University of Maryland , College Park , in the Sworn Police Unit. Mr. Pence reported that the election was very successful, that there were no problems save one small human error in the counting of the votes. Mr. Pence expressed hope that larger units would use the electronic election technology in the future. Board member David Merkowitz spoke of other electronic elections in the state that had gone well.

5. Continuing Business

a. Saint Mary’s College.

There was previously an appeal of the Executive Director’s decision on a challenged ballot in this unit. At this time, Keith Zimmerman withdrew this appeal on behalf of AFSCME. Pat Murray from Saint Mary’s College accepted the withdrawal

b. Salisbury Unfair Labor Practices

Chairman Raskin noted that there had been a hearing on the Shared Governance (ULP 2001-02), Unlawful Assistance (ULP 2002-01), Election Objection (Case 2002-04), and Progressive Discipline and Attendance Policy (ULP 2002-03) matters during the afternoon preceding the meeting. The Chairman restated that all parties would be hearing from the Board in the next week regarding the next step in this case.

6. New Business

a. ULP 2002-03, Salisbury University Progressive Discipline and Attendance Policy

Chairman Raskin noted that this case was heard with the other Unfair Labor Practice Cases earlier in the afternoon, and that the parties would be hearing from the Board.

b. ULP 2002-02, University of Maryland , College Park

Mr. Pence stated that AFSCME had requested that this ULP be held in abeyance until meetings between the Union and the University had taken place which would touch on the matters in the ULP. Mr. Smith on behalf of AFSCME formally asked the Board to hold this matter in abeyance. Chairman Raskin responded that the Board would do so.

7. Action on Proposed Regulations

Chairman Raskin stated that at this time the Board would continue the process of promulgating its regulations, and that the Board was now looking at the neutrality and access issues.

Chairman Raskin then noted that there was proposed language from AFSCME regarding the neutrality issue, and proceeded to read a portion of it for the Board members.

Board member Harriet Cooperman moved to adopt all sections of §, except “H” on Strict Neutrality. Board member Leo Gant seconded this motion, and the motion carried

The Chairman asked if Ms. Cooperman would speak to her stance on the Strict Neutrality provision in § Ms. Cooperman stated that the provision as presently written was beyond Board authority to limit university speech, based on our statute. Ms. Cooperman next spoke of the conflict that strict neutrality creates with the right to free speech. Ms. Cooperman noted that although taking away strict neutrality may appear to give the universities greater access to employees, this was prevented through other provisions in the Board regulations. In conclusion, Ms. Cooperman said that the universities should have the right to state a position on issues related to Collective Bargaining.

Chairman Raskin then asked Board member Susan Schurman to speak to her views on the strict neutrality issue. The Chairman noted that Ms. Schurman had been absent from the previous Board meeting and that the remaining members had been reluctant to decide on this issue without hearing from her. Ms. Schurman stated that she disagreed with Ms. Cooperman’s views. Ms. Schurman expressed concern that the universities would have an undue advantage, although she indicated sympathy for the argument that the universities should express their opinion. Ms. Schurman concluded that new regulatory language was necessary on this point and that she wasn’t satisfied that the current language puts the Board where it should be on the strict neutrality issue, and that she wanted more time to review the proposed language from AFSCME.

Board member Leo Gant then spoke, indicating that he had been one of the members that was wanting to hear Ms. Schurman’s opinion on strict neutrality before coming to his own conclusions on the subject. Mr. Gant indicated that he would like to rethink the language on strict neutrality but that he felt more comfortable with Ms. Schurman’s analysis of strict neutrality and where the Board should stand on the issue.

Board member David Merkowitz expressed concern over individual expression and the use of institutional resources. Mr. Merkowitz noted that the state legislature had created this Collective Bargaining regime, but had also created the University budget system.

Chairman Raskin noted that the general thinking was that work time should be for work, and that the same rule should apply to managers and supervisors, as well as to employees. Chairman Raskin further stated that the Board should avoid policing every problematic statement that came from the University and asked staff to provide some draft language on this issue for the next meeting.

Mr. Merkowitz again noted the issue of using the resources of the university. Chairman Raskin asked if the Board members were going to further comment on this issue or if the regulation would be held over until the next meeting. Ms. Cooperman stated that the issue of strict neutrality is a slippery slope, in terms of university resources being used. She spoke to the issue of the university hiring counsel or outside consultants, and noted again that it wasn’t within Board authority to dictate how the university spends its money. Ms. Schurman noted that this issue needs pondering. She stated that if universities were permitted to use their resources to campaign in an election, this would not create a level playing field. On the other hand, Ms. Schurman questioned how to get a level playing field without limiting ways in which the university spends its money.

Chairman Raskin stated that the Board should not be in a position of treating employees like children, noting that such a comment was made earlier in the hearing. Chairman Raskin said that he appreciated the spirit of that comment and stated that employees had elected unions in all situations thus far despite any expressed viewpoints coming from the universities. Chairman Raskin then reiterated the earlier motion initially made by Ms. Cooperman and seconded by Mr. Gant to approve for adoption all of §, except “H” on strict neutrality.

Mr. Pence next directed the Board’s attention to §, noting that it had been held over at the last meeting for purposes of balance with the preceding section. This point was reiterated by Ms. Lell and Mr. Dunbar on behalf of the staff.Mr. Merkowitz movedto approve for adoption all of § and Mr. Gant seconded the motion The motion carried.

Chairman Raskin next moved to §, noting a letter from Mr. Anderson of the Office of the Attorney General regarding the access issue. Mr. Merkowitz indicated disagreement with Mr. Anderson’s letter and proposed language for this regulatory provision. Mr. Merkowitz noted that questions of access shouldn’t be set aside until a representative bargains for access rights in the Collective Bargaining process. At this time, Chairman Raskin invited Mr. Anderson to step forward and explain his concerns, and clarify his points regarding the language. Chairman Raskin indicated disagreement with the fact that Mr. Anderson’s language took out “employees” right to access, noting that the Board felt strongly that access issues should be given to union candidates as well as unit employees. Chairman Raskin also noted that Mr. Anderson’s proposed language had dropped the list of access areas. Mr. Anderson stated that he would have no problem including unit employees with union candidates in the regulation.

Ms. Schurman noted that the issues of access were largely a part of the afternoon hearing. Mr. Anderson responded that an MOU {memorandum of understanding} would help to determine issues of access as well. Ms. Cooperman noted that open access was an important concept. She drew an analogy between this access provision and the issue of providing employee e-mail addresses, which the Board had addressed at its last meeting. Ms. Cooperman submitted that the idea of “reasonable” access was important, but recognized that each school would be different regarding that standard. Mr. Anderson stated that the current language would be acceptable, as long as the interpretation was based on a “reasonableness” standard. At this time, Ms. Cooperman moved to approve for adoption §,(B), and (C), including the Board’s revised section (A).Mr. Merkowitz seconded the motion. This motion carried on a four to one vote, Ms. Schurman being the dissenting Board member.

8. Additional Proposed Regulations:

At this time, Assistant Executive Director Erica Lell presented draft proposed regulations to the Board members for their consideration. A list of titles follows:

Petition to Amend Certification of Representative
Petition to Clarify and/or Contest Unit Designation
Withdrawal from Election (proposed subsection of §14.30.05, on elections)
De-certification Petition (proposed subsection of §14.30.05 on elections)
Voluntary Impasse Resolution Proceedings
List of Neutrals
Negotiability Appeal Proceedings
Voluntary Settlement or Adjustment of Disputes
Filing (proposed reconfiguring of §
Board Documents (proposed addition of a §

9. Public Comment

Mr. Merkowitz proposed changing the May Board meeting to May 23 as opposed to May 30th. Other Board members noted that they would look at their schedules and be in contact about the proposed date change.

Marvin Ames, a Salisbury University non-exempt unit employee, spoke about the general attitude of the employees at Salisbury University regarding the elections. Mr. Ames also noted that there were people in the non-exempt unit that were involved in the Shared Governance body/staff senate at Salisbury University , and that the staff senate would not be influenced or attempt to influence issues involved in collective bargaining.

Mr. Merkowitz commended the conduct of the parties involved in the proceedings before the Board thus far, stating that participation was appreciated. He further noted that there is a lot at stake at Salisbury University and that the campaigns have been tough. Mr. Merkowitz stated that the Board was feeling its way through the current cases and that everyone’s help and input was appreciated.

10. Adjournment

Ms. Schurman moved to adjourn the Board meeting at approximately 7:15 . The motion wasuniversally seconded and approved by the remaining Board members.