School custodians seek mediation in contract dispute

September 19, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Union representatives for the district’s custodial and grounds maintenance workers and district officials filed for mediation after being unable to come to a resolution on contract issues Sept. 9.

The district and the union have decided to pursue mediation because they are at an impasse on all major issues and therefore would like a third party to facilitate resolution, according to school district bargaining officials.

Both parties filed with the Public Employment Relations Commission on Sept. 11.

However, Jason Powell, union representative for Teamsters Local Union No. 763 and its 110 custodial and maintenance workers, said that he has presented the district with several written proposals and responses to their bargaining conditions with little to no movement on the side of district.

Union members have agreed to some of the district’s proposals like the ability of the district to use security cameras in disciplinary issues and contract language changes in areas regarding grievance proceedings, Powell said.

Sticking areas in the negotiations, according to Powell, are increases in the length of time disciplinary action stays on employee records, a new drug testing policy and elimination of a part of an attendance incentive program.

Powell said union representatives were willing to try to meet again Sept. 16, but that meeting was cancelled.

School district contracts with the custodial and maintenance workers, bus mechanics and food service workers all expired Aug. 31. So far, food services are the only ones to have ratified a new contract.

The school district’s bus mechanics rejected the district’s last offer Sept. 4 by an overwhelming majority. Their next meeting with district officials is Sept. 18.

“We’re hopeful we can resolve the issues,” said Ron Harrell, a union representative for the group. “There are economic issues involved and also some language issues.”

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