The negotiation committee of the NCFO Local 1250 met Monday, October 14, to respond to the statements made by Dr. Rodney Kuhns, superintendent of schools, dealing with the union’s rejection of the fact-finder’s proposal. The negotiation committee asked to remain anonymous in comments and given information.
In response to the seven sessions held: The first session was an exchange of information by both parties. During session two, the school board presented the union answers to their proposals to which each was a ‘no’ and an offer of 20 cents per hour raise and a pay back on insurance and raise in the cost of prescriptions. The third session lasted approximately ten minutes with refusal by the board to negotiate and threats of replacing employees.
Session number four, again, lasted approximately ten minutes with the business manager losing his temper and again the board walking out of negotiations. The next session the board came back to the committee with an offer of 40 cents across the board for each bargaining unit member. The sixth session consisted of a meeting with a mediator.
After this session, the board requested fact-finding at which the union responded ‘no’ and asked that they continue to negotiate with the board.
To address the issue of ‘Health Care,’ the union did not request health care for employees working 1 1/4 hours per day. The union requested coverage for any member of the bargaining unit working six hours or more, including bus drivers who are not currently covered under any hospitalization plan.
The union says that the management has falsely stated that they cover ‘all’ employees working seven hours per day. The school district currently has bus drivers who work seven hours per day who are not receiving this coverage.
Support staff negotiators stated, “An employee who would receive a 40 cents per hour raise is on the Traditional Hospitalization plan would have to pay $240 per year which would make that raise 25 cents per hour. If this same employee needed two prescriptions at $8 additional per prescription, the raise would amount to 13 cents per hour.”
The negotiation committee stated that they are extremely disappointed that management erroneously reported that no written documentation was presented to the fact-finder by the union – does this mean that Dr. Caldwell (fact-finder) ignored the information given to him?
The members of the bargaining unit appointed the negotiation committee to represent them and to make decisions in the best interest of all members. The committee felt that the offer presented was beneficial to five members leaving 40 members with a less than adequate package.
According to the support staff negotiators, the board has not presented any documentation backing their statement that this contract would cause a 6.8 mill increase in taxes.
The union wonders how a board who has recently spent approximately $112,000 to purchase two properties for additional parking; approved an approximate $700,000 for renovations of the high school auditorium, and another $188,000 to purchase ground.
Support Staff negotiators said that this doesn’t include the recent salaries for administration – superintendent $92,389; business manager $75,365; high school principal $86,465; assistant high school principal $71,057; middle school principal $75, 665; elementary principal $59,857; technology coordinator $55,524; special education coordination/psychologist $53,005; supervisor of federal program/curriculum testing $66,233 – and never mention an increase in taxes.
“Now their lowest paid, hard working, dedicated employees can cause such an increase in taxes,” said Support Staff negotiators. “This is an insult to taxpayers and this board would like the taxpayers support – the same board who months ago did not want to listen to the taxpayers when they asked them to reconsider purchasing ground for additional athletic facilities and parking.”
An anonymous negotiator commented, “Our next step is we will be having a meeting with our membership, and we look to have another meeting with the school board. I hope that we can come to an agreement, but if a strike’s necessary it will happen – but I think we will come to an agreement.”
“We feel the public should see this and know what we are dealing with also,” said the anonymous negotiator. “We have a two tier wage package and we’re trying to bring the second tier closer to the first tier so there isn’t such a big difference.”
The committee does agree with management the Bellwood-Antis does indeed have hard working, dedicated and loyal employees – all they are asking is a fair contract for all.