Bus union still waiting for decision on grievance against Penn Hills schools
Members of the Penn Hills School District's former bus drivers' union are still waiting for the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to rule on their labor grievance against the Penn Hills School District.
But the district's refusal to continue bargaining with the union may open it up to an additional unfair labor practice charge, according to state labor and industry officials.
A fact-finder's report, commissioned by the PLRB and issued in the summer of 2011, found that members of Amalgamated Transit Union No. 1552 made what amounted to a fair contract offer to the school district.
Union officials accepted the report, but the school district rejected it.
According to Lindsay Bracale, a press aide with the state Department of Labor and Industry, after the district's rejection of the report, “the only legal requirement is that the parties continue to bargain in good faith.”
Lori Krapf, president of ATU No. 1552, said that has not happened.
“They will not talk to us,” Krapf said.
District officials broke off contract negotiations with the union in May 2011 and opted to hire Cincinnati-based First Student to handle district transportation.
School officials said they needed the deal with First Student to balance the 2011-12 budget in the face of a $3.9 million reduction in state education subsidies.
Members of the union filed a labor grievance with the PLRB, accusing the district of prematurely ending the negotiations.
A PLRB hearing on those charges took place in February 2012 and wrapped up in June 2012.
Union members, some of whom accepted employment offered by First Student when they took over school-district transportation, are awaiting a final ruling.
Bracale said that if the school district and union do not continue to bargain in good faith, “one of the parties involved” — in this case, the union — “could file an unfair (labor) practice charge.”
Krapf said they will wait on a ruling for the original grievance.
“Once they decide on that, then we'll go from there,” she said.
A decision in favor of the union ultimately could be very costly for the district, which would have to reacquire the bus fleet which it sold to First Student.
The district also could potentially be forced not only to re-hire ATU No. 1552 drivers, mechanics and bus aides, but also to provide them nearly two years of back pay.
Bracale said the PLRB has not set a date for the issuance of a final decision on the union's grievance.
The district is facing a roughly $5 million deficit heading into the 2013-14 school year, although business director Rick Liberto has presented a scenario in which that number could be reduced to less than $1 million through staff reductions and a restructuring of the district's 2009 debt.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.