Plum school district, bus drivers agree to contract
Plum School District's transportation union has approved the district's final contract offer.
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1595 that represents 61 bus drivers, mechanics and aides voted 26-22 last week to accept the three-year proposal that calls for a wage freeze in the current year, a $4.23-cent-an-hour wage cut in the second year and an 8-cent-an-hour increase in the third year, according to union President Donna Meanor.
The Plum School Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal at 7 p.m. April 16.
Bus drivers currently are paid $21.14 an hour.
Mechanics make $23.45 an hour, and bus aides are paid $13.06 an hour.
Meanor said the proposed contract would run retroactively from August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2015.
The employees have been working under the terms of a five-year contract that expired July 31, 2012.
Meanor said despite the wage cut, there are several positives from the union accepting the district's offer.
“Those of us who have health benefits keep them, we stay in the Public School Employees' Retirement System, and there is no outsourcing,” Meanor said.
The district had solicited proposals from private transportation companies. First Student of Cincinnati submitted a bid for the work.
“If we rejected it (the district's proposal), the board was going to vote (whether) to outsource to First Student,” Meanor said.
Board President Andrew Drake said if the union rejected the district's final offer, the negotiations would have been at an impasse and outsourcing would have been considered.
“We always said all along we had an option of going with an outside supplier,” Drake said.
Drake is ready to move forward.
“I am glad that we have settled the contract,” Drake said. “It is good for the district to have this behind us. We want to work with the bus drivers and employees to make sure we get the best service for the students.”
The school board earlier this year rejected 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 member Joe Tommarello said though he voted against the fact finder's recommendations because of the increased cost to the district, he opposed outsourcing or hiring a private company to handle the district's transportation.
Meanor said union members obtained more than 1,000 signatures on petitions indicating support of the district's transportation department.
“We got support from the taxpayers in the community,” Meanor said.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.