Harford County Executive David Craig used a veto to withheld one-time bonus money that would have gone to employees, his office announced Friday morning.
Bonuses for many county employees were approved by the Harford County Council on Tuesday and initially included the board of education, which would be responsible for distributing the bonuses to school system employees.
The bonuses were to be split in half, with the first payment of $625 to be issued before Christmas and the second half may have been distributed in the spring, according to the county executive's office and the Harford County Education Association's website.
On Thursday, the Harford County Education Association, which represents the county's public school teachers in collective bargaining, posted a message to its members about the planned bonuses on its website.
"The fact that the Council passed the bill and the money is now in the school system’s budget is a big win and greatly enhances HCEA’s potential ability to use this money through renegotiations," HCEA president Randy Cerveny wrote in the letter on the union's website.
The school board and the union remain in salary negotiations for next year after the union filed a complaint with the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board arguing the school system acted in bad faith during initial negotiations.
The labor board agreed with the union and could have decided to include any money made available since July in the renegotiation process, including the proposed bonus money, Cerveny explained.
"The money that was just released to (the school system) could be part of that pot, meaning that the binding ruling of the Labor Board could help HCEA restore money lost over the last three years and help upgrade your salaries—permanently," Cerveny's letter on the website stated.
Cerveny told Patch Friday that the contracts and the bonuses are two separate issues, but would have been discussed with the labor board at the same time.
In response to the union's website statement, Craig vetoed the part of the bill that would give bonus money to the board of education for distribution, according the Friday morning statement.
“As a 34 year educator and a former member of HCEA, I am deeply
disappointed in its leadership and their efforts to co-opt this legislation," said in his statement.
Craig contends the union's statement expresses intentions to "hijack this (bonus) fund appropriation to support its case before the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board in an effort to secure the unfunded recurring salary increase," according to the statement.
The veto only impacts the board of education funding and does not impact bonuses to other areas of county government, the or employees, according Craig's statement.
to see Craig's full statement.