Members of the union which represents the Jackson City School District classified, non-teaching employees rejected the latest contract offer from the district and also have voted to authorize a possible strike if no agreement is reached at some point.
Members of Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Chapter 046 voted Wednesday, Sept. 6 on what was described by district officials as the district's "best final offer." Chapter 046 President Carla Potter confirmed that the latest contract offer was defeated and that an authorization-to-strike vote was approved.
What the parties did agree on, according to both Potter and Superintendent of Schools Phil Howard, was to go back to the bargaining table this Saturday, Sept. 9, to make at least one last effort to reach an agreement.
The current three-year labor contract between the district and Chapter 046 expired last June 30, but the employees have continued to work under the terms of the old contract while negotiations for a new pact have continued. Chapter 046 represents 67 unionized non-teaching employees, including bus drivers, cooks, custodians, maintenance personnel, and secretaries. An impasse was declared earlier and a recent mediation session with a federal mediator failed to produce an agreement.
Jackson Superintendent of Schools Phil Howard told The Telegram he had been informed of the votes by Potter and added that he had been informed that the contract offer was "narrowly" rejected. He also said he had been told about the authorization-to-strike vote being approved by the membership. He said he talked with OAPSE union representative Shawn Dahl Wednesday night and said it was agreed to conduct another negotiation session on the following Saturday.
Before a strike could actually take place, Howard said the union has to issue an "intent-to-strike" declaration 10 days in advance of the start of a strike. This has not yet happened.
"It's my hope that we can come up with an agreement at our next negotiating session and not go down that road," Howard said.
If a strike does occur, Howard says the district will be ready to deal with it. During a special-session board of education meeting held Aug. 28, the school board voted unanimously to direct Howard to research and develop a "contingency plan" in case a work stoppage occurs.
"If a strike occurs -- and 'if' is the key word -- we would be prepared," Howard said when asked about developments with the contingency plan.
The specific issue or issues separating the parties have not been publicly revealed as contract rules prohibit either party from discussing the issues publicly unless both parties agree to allow it. Previously, Howard has challenged the union to allow a public discussion of the issues, but the union declined to do so and Potter noted this hasn't been done in the past.
Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017
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Why not give them the same thing they are already receiving? From my understanding the bus drivers are not asking for more money, but just to be able to keep their insurance. In this day and age, with being taxed for not having insurance they need to do everything possible to keep the ones they have.