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Plum School Board rejects recommendation on pay for transportation union members

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 12:47 a.m.

The Plum School Board and the district's transportation union continue to be at odds over wages.

Board members on Monday night voted 5-2 to reject a fact finder's recommendation that would have frozen wages in the first year and given increases of 25- cents an hour and 35-cents an hour respectively in the second and third years of the three-year proposal.

Board members Tom McGough and Loretta White voted in favor of the recommendations. Board members Shane McMasters and John St. Leger did not attend the special meeting.

Bus drivers are paid $21.14 an hour. Mechanics make $23.45 an hour, and bus aides are paid $13.06 an hour.

The Plum School District's proposal called for a $4.23-an-hour wage decrease in the first year, a $4.15-an-hour decrease in the second year and a $4.04-an-hour wage cut in the third year.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1595 that represents the 61 bus drivers, mechanics and aides voted 55-4 last week to accept the fact finder's recommendations, union President Donna Meanor said.

Meanor said the union's most recent proposal, a five-year deal, called for a $1.25-an-hour wage decrease in the first year, wage freezes in the second and third year, a 62-cent-an-hour increase in the fourth year and a 63-cent an hour increase in the fifth year.

“We didn't want to lose money,” Meanor said. “No one else (district employees) was asked to take a pay cut.”

Board member Joe Tommarello said the fact finder's proposal would cost the district about $200,000 more than it currently pays in wages.

“Are we going to cut more programs if we accept it?” Tommarello asked. “I want to negotiate with them.”

The 61 bus drivers, mechanics and bus aides are working under the terms of a five-year contract that expired July 31, 2012.

The two sides agreed to fact finding late last year after negotiations broke down.

District Solicitor Lee Price said district officials and union members plan to meet to discuss whether to conduct nonbinding arbitration or go back to negotiating.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kzapf@tribweb.com.

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