Share This Page

School contract talks stall in Brentwood

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 3:45 p.m.

A group of 20 support staffers — each wearing a red T-shirt and white pin with the words: “I work here. I live here. I vote here.” — quietly filled Brentwood Borough School Board chambers on Monday night.

Some carried signs, alerting board members and those in attendance that the 45 members of the Brentwood Education Support Professionals Association, or BESPA, already had gone 106 days without a new contract. They are working under the terms of an expired contract.

“We want them to know that we're not going away until we get a contract,” said Paul Girdany, UniServ representative with the Pennsylvania State Education Association, with which the local union is affiliated.

A four-year contract for BESPA members — who include paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, maintenance staff and cafeteria workers — ended June 30. Typically, the union and district leaders have been able to reach a contract agreement before the expiration, said BESPA Vice President and Elroy Elementary paraprofessional Susan Milius.

“We just are ready to be settled,” she said.

Contract talks have been under way since January, with meetings several times a month until now, Girdany said. As of Monday, there were no meetings set for future talks, he said.

“We have had generally productive negotiations,” school district solicitor John Vogel said.

“There's a general consensus between the negotiating teams” in regards to wages and benefits, he said.

The sticking point, Vogel said, is that “the district wants all applicants for support staffing jobs to be tested to determine if they're qualified.”

Union leaders are seeking to exempt current employees “in certain jobs” from the testing if they apply to switch to other specific jobs, Vogel said.

“The district believes strongly that this is a health and safety issue for our children and employees,” he said.

To that end, negotiations have stalled, Girdany said.

“We have some problems in negotiations,” Girdany said.

Girdany declined to elaborate on what the issues are with the contract and negotiations.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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.