Wicomico Education Support Professionals in a Fight for Fairness

In Wicomico County, education support professionals (ESP) are rallying for just cause and bindu00ading arbitration, rights that most otheru2026

In Wicomico County, education support professionals (ESP) are rallying for just cause and bind­ing arbitration, rights that most other education employees in Maryland already have. If their fight for these rights is success­ful, Wicomico County will join Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore, and all but Anne Arundel and Harford counties in the rest of the state.

Binding arbitration is a way to resolve an employment-related dispute outside of a courtroom with the assistance of a neutral third party with expertise in educational law and mutually agreed upon by the parties. Decisions made in binding arbitration are final and may be appealed to court under very limited circumstances.

With 1,300 members, the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA) represents both certificated and ESP mem­bers. At a May 9 rally before a school board meeting, educa­tors came together to ask for fairness for ESP. In 2009, MSEA members fought hard to win the right for ESP to include disci­pline for just cause as a manda­tory subject of bargaining with their school boards. The only way to ensure fairness in the enforcement of such language, however, is to combine it with a grievance process that ends in binding arbitration.

“I want you to know that it is not our goal to find reasons to file a grievance or to unfairly proclaim an injustice,” WCEA’s Vice President for ESP Pamela Barclay told the rally crowd. “We are here to do the exact opposite: ask for fairness in hopes we won’t have to file a grievance. We are asking for a commitment to honor our nego­tiated agreement, and that the board does the right thing by agreeing to binding arbitration in our current negotiations.”