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Plum School Board, bus workers remain at odds

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 10:24 p.m.

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

Board members 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 in the second and third years, respectively, 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 currently 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 cuts that would equate to drivers making $16.91, mechanics making $19.22 and aides making $8.83 per hour in the first year.

In the second year, drivers would make $16.99 an hour, while mechanics would make $19.30 and aides would make $8.91.

In the third year, drivers would be paid $17.10 an hour, mechanics would make $19.41 and aides would make $9.02.

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

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 non-binding arbitration or go back to negotiating.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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