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Higher Education Board Meeting Minutes

Board Meeting, September 20, 2001,
Lowe House Office Building,
Ways and Means Committee Room,
Annapolis, MD.

Chairman Raskin called the meeting to order at 9:30 am in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room, Lowe House Office Building , Annapolis , Maryland . All members and the Executive Director, Karl Pence, were present, Harriet Cooperman by phone. Also present on behalf of the Board were Assistant Attorney General E. Fremont Magee and regulatory law consult Jeffrey Lubbers.
The August 31, 2001 minutes were laid over until the October meeting at the request of Mr. Markowitz because they had only just then been presented to the Board.

Mr. Merkowitz moved and Ms. Schurman seconded the following motion:

_Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised shall govern the meetings of the Board. (Motion carried 4-0).

The Chairman pointed out that the Board is working on a two-pronged process. One is based on pervasive support for the Board’s adopting formal rules, policies, and procedures according to the State Administrative Procedures Act. The Board is committed to producing a comprehensive regulation through the APA. To that end, interested parties will be given a draft of regulations after the meeting to review. The board will not formally introduce these until October 25, but will be happy to receive inputs if they can get in by October 11. Whatever comments do come in will be considered before a final proposal is adopted to enter the APA process. The second process underway is based on the statute’s requirement that the Board conduct elections when presented with valid petitions. The Board through its Executive Director will receive petitions October 1 and, thereafter, determine whether the interest cards are valid and conform with the units as provided by the institutions, and certify those that qualify—with an election required within 90 days of the presentation of the petitions. Therefore, the Executive Director will have to meet with the principals of each unit—the institution and qualified unions—to make a rule for each election. This must go forward ahead of the regulations process by the statute.
The Chairman went on to discuss unfair labor practices and permissible union activities in a period before the regulations are in effect. He pointed out that the most important principle that “animates” ULP issues is neutrality and non-discrimination. Reasonable, fair, and neutral rules of access should govern. A union cannot be discriminated against just because it is a union.

The executive director then reported on the efforts he is undertaking. He introduced Mr. Lubbers, an expert in administrative law, who has been working as a consultant to bring together regulations language from a variety of sources. He also informed the Board that the temporary office would be established in rooms 7D/K of the building at 45 Calvert Street in Annapolis , and that he expected to have a special assistant in place by October 1.

The Chair then moved into a discussion of the draft regulations. Mr. Gant asked the Chair what processes he undertook for developing regulatory ideas. He indicated that from his NLRB experience there were areas to improve upon for these particular parties’ benefit as to what is precludable and doable, among other concerns.

Chairman Raskin responded that they had looked at federal and state analogies as a floor, not a ceiling, in developing these proposals.

Mr. Merkowitz commended the Chair, Mr. Magee, and Mr. Lubbers for getting this material out so quickly and made the substantive point that some of the templates where they would find language would not apply to what we are doing here in Maryland.

After a number of questions and points were raised, Ms. Schurman offered her opinion. She cited her experience on both sides of labor issues and said that her experience supports rules, specificity, clarity, timelines as elemental to fairness. This work, she said, will help the Board do its work. She said that to the degree we can be consistent with established labor law practice while acknowledging the unique missions, philosophies, and practices of the institutions of Maryland ’s higher education systems. She thought this a “tremendous” first draft. She also addressed the several “constituencies”—both sides, the eager and not eager—and urged them to be patient, work with the Board, as the Board is committed to rules fair to all parties.

Ms. Cooperman raised some concerns about the “silence” of the proposed regulations on classification of bargaining units as well as on challenges. The Chair indicated they were proceeding on assumptions that this is handled in statute, a point supported by Mr. Lubbers. After several Board members discussed the issues around differences in rules on different campuses, Mr. Merkowitz observed that whatever the Board puts out as proposed does provide some guidance to aid the parties and the Board in proceeding. The Chair added his hope that the parties would do all they could to work things out.

The Chair then suggested a need to assign to the Executive Director certain duties so that when October 1 arrives he will be able to minimize the confusion. After general concurrence,

Mr. Gant moved and Ms. Schurman seconded the following motion:

That the Executive Director be charged to receive petitions and determine whether they were valid including having sufficient valid interest cards. That the Executive Director then certify any valid petitioner as eligible for standing to be elected exclusive representative. Further, that the Executive Director develop specific plans and rules for each unit in which there will be an election with the collaboration of the institution and any qualified candidate unions, and, with these in place, the Executive Director supervise and conduct the elections. (Carried 5-0)

PUBLIC COMMENT

A number of individuals took the opportunity to present remarks during the public comment period. Among them, Mr. Frank Stegman on behalf of the University System of Maryland expressed their commitment to the process and indicated they believed the Board’s reliance on separate work plans for each election unit is consistent with the decentralized system. Also, AFSMCE representatives expressed a desire to get on with the process, applauded the pulling together of draft regulations so quickly, and indicated they would file petitions on October 1. They were also concerned about protecting the rights of signers by having the elections reasonably soon. Mr Roy Ross of the organization known as CUSS indicated concern about the “gray” areas of CUSS’s mission with collective bargaining. He indicated some of the history of CUSS and sought clarification of CUSS’s role for staff electing no representative. Representatives of the Maryland Classified Employees Association also commented.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Board entered Executive Session for the purpose of discussing legal advice and personnel matters.

ADJOURNMENT

Respectfully submitted by Karl Pence, Executive Director

[Minutes approved at the December 20, 2001 board meeting.]


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