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Head Start negotiating its first union

Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Head Start program employees, one of the newest county groups represented by a labor union, are negotiating their first contract.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Head Start program employees, one of the newest county groups represented by a labor union, are negotiating their first contract.

"They are bargaining and we’re optimistic about the outcome," said Karen Kuehne, president of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 170.

Employees voted to unionize after OAPSE approached them in October 1999, Mrs. Kuehne said.

Negotiations began in January 2000 and continued sporadically throughout the year, with the union filing some unfair labor practice charges, she said.

Late last year, management wanted to poll the employees again because they felt the majority did not want a union, but the employees favored representation by an 83-21 vote, Mrs. Kuehne said.

Quality of work life and other issues were addressed in subsequent negotiations but both parties are now hammering out an economic package.

Management hopes to resolve a contract soon, said Jim Ingram, the CAO’s director of human resources.

"I feel it’s progressing very well," Ingram said. "It has been a difficult contract to negotiate because of restrictions we have with federal and state funding."

The CAO’s Head Start program is more complex because it incorporates daycare and innovative programs throughout, he said.

Both sides, with the CAO represented by Cross Management, negotiated late into the evening Friday and Monday.

"A contract is very close now," she said.

An hours of work issue and others are still on the table but most wages have been hammered out, she said.