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Plum school board rejects fact-finder's report in dispute with administrative aides

| Saturday, July 12, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The task of placing books on shelves and who is allowed to move them is one of eight disputes a fact-finder addressed between Plum School District and its administrative assistants' union.

Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board acting Secretary Larry Cheskawich said on Friday the district rejected the report while the administrative assistants accepted the recommendations, which included lower wages for new hires. The contract expired July 1, and the two sides had been negotiating until an impasse forced it to fact-finding.

“Plum is a bedroom and farm community with very little tax base contribution from business and industry,” fact-finder Thomas L. Hewitt wrote in the decision released on Thursday.

School board President Sal Colella declined comment. A representative for the union, Plum Borough School District Educational Administrative Assistants, could not be reached for comment.

In addition to shelving the books, disputed issues include: wages, health insurance premiums, health care opt-out payments, whether to give back Easter as a paid holiday, and adjustments to vacation, layoff and transfer procedures.

The union wanted only its members to shelve books, but the fact-finder rejected that, saying it wasn't a “collective bargaining issue.” The report said no one would lose their jobs if others — such as parents and students — were permitted to shelve books.

The district employs about 20 administrative assistants who would be paid $26,194 to $48,809 in the third year of the contract. Cheskawich said the board and the administrative assistants are required to vote again on the report.

If the outcome is the same as the first vote, the administrative assistants could authorize a strike. Cheskawich said the two sides could opt for arbitration or further negotiations.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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