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February 8, 2017

PK Law Education and Labor Attorney Les Stellman Identifies Collective Bargaining as One of Top Ten Legal Issues Facing Community Colleges

Portrait of happy multiethnic students with teacher standing on college campus

In an article published in the March 2016 Ferris State University Perspectives publication, PK Law Labor and Education Attorney Leslie Stellman produced a “top ten” list of the most prevalent legal issues facing community colleges.  Number three on the list is Employee Relations (Collective Bargaining).  Mr. Stellman identified “the emergence of the ‘nontraditional’ faculty, such as adjunct professors who are teaching a greater number of classes in community colleges,” is the precipitous for the sense of need to organize to improve salaries and working conditions.  Go here to access the full article.

In Maryland, Mr. Stellman’s identification of this issue in the “top ten” is particularly pertinent in light of the introduction of SB 652 on February 3, 2017.  The Bill, if passed, would establish, in part, collective bargaining rights for community college employees; establish procedures for the selection of an exclusive bargaining representative; establish that a maximum number of six bargaining units may be designated; and require specified contracts and agreements entered into before October 1, 2017, to remain in effect until the agreement or contract expires.  The House passed similar legislation (HB 27) in March of last year and critics of that legislation voiced a concern that it was a one size fits all bill and that each individual community college should have the right to opt out of the requirement.  Without the opt-out provision, community colleges would be faced with unforeseen rises in costs which they could only alleviate by raising tuitions. Proponents argued that employees of the community colleges, particularly adjunct professors, receive historically low wages and the legislation is needed to force community college employers to work collaboratively with their staff to improve learning conditions and contribute to student success.  A hearing on the bill is set for March 9, 2017 at 1:00 p.m.  Senate Bill 652 was cross-filed with House Bill 871.

Members of PK Law’s Education and Labor Group, Leslie Stellman, Rochelle Eisenberg and Edmund O’Meally, are seasoned veterans in the handling of collective bargaining on behalf of employers. 

Mr. Stellman has over 40 years of experience as a labor attorney in both the public and private sectors.  A labor lawyer by training, early in his labor law career, Mr. Stellman appeared regularly before the National Labor Relations Board, and participated in dozens of arbitration proceedings, hearings before the NLRB, and served as chief negotiator in collective bargaining.  Becoming more involved in the public sector, in the 80s Mr. Stellman has appeared in many cases before local boards of education, the Maryland State Board of Education, and the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board (“SHELRB”).  Mr. Stellman was selected by three campuses of the University System of Maryland to serve as their chief negotiator shortly after the enactment of Maryland’s higher education labor relations law and the creation of the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board (“SHELRB”).  In 2005 Mr. Stellman was retained by the United States Naval Academy as its chief negotiator in collective bargaining with union representatives (the American Federation of Government Employees, or AFGE) of the Academy’s civilian employees.  In May 2012 the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”) ratified the first agreement negotiated with the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners covering a bargaining unit of 140 school police officers.  Mr. Stellman served as the Board’s chief negotiator, reaching agreement on a unique pay-for-performance contract with the police.  Mr. Stellman was recently asked to serve as chief negotiator for McDaniel College in collective bargaining negotiations over the terms of a first contract between the College and SEIU Local 500 covering over 250 adjunct faculty members who recently voted to join the Union.   

Ms. Eisenberg has over 38 years of experience serving as a mediator and representing private and public sector clients on behalf of management with experience before federal and state courts, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, various state and city human relations commissions (employment and fair housing cases), National Labor Relations Board, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Maryland State Board of Education, Office of Administrative Hearings, and other administrative agencies. She represented the Board of Education of Queen Anne’s County in the State’s first impasse tried under Maryland’s Fairness in Negotiations Act. 

Mr. O’Meally has over 30 years of experience working with public and private sector employers on a wide-variety of labor and employment matters including serving as a chief negotiator representing management in negotiations with local affiliates of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”), the American Federation of Teachers (“AFT”), the Maryland State Education Association (“MSEA”), and the City Union of Baltimore (“CUB”), advising collective bargaining teams, representing employers in impasse mediations and arbitrations, litigating scope of bargaining disputes, litigating grievances and arbitrations, and representing employers in a wide variety of employment litigation matters before federal and state courts and administrative agencies. In 2010, Mr. O’Meally was the chief negotiator of the innovative performance based collective bargaining agreement between the Baltimore City Public School System and the Baltimore Teachers Union and has since served as chief negotiator in the negotiation of several other performance based collective bargaining agreements for non-certificated employees. Mr. O’Meally is one of the few negotiators in the country who has successfully negotiated this type of agreement.