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Fairland union scoffs at proposal, intends to strike

The Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 345 has turned thumbs down on a contract proposal from the Fairland School Board, and is on the verge of going on strike.

Local 345 officials this morning filed its official notification of intent to strike Aug. 12 with the State Employment Relations Board.

The union leaders and board members met Thursday for several hours, at which time the board submitted the rejected contract proposal.

The contract included annual pay raises but did not include provisions for binding arbitration and fair share. Union officials have been emphatic that its negotiators will not consider any contract that does not include these two items.

Superintendent Jerry McConnell said the board offered to give the non-certified personnel a 50-, 55- and 60-cent per hour raise during each of the three years of the contract.

The board also offered to keep the employee’s contribution to health insurance at 15 percent, even though he said insurance costs have increased 30 percent.

In addition, the board offered a one-time only $1,000 contract signing bonus.

McConnell said the board gave the union until Aug. 9 to approve the contract. If that doesn’t happen, the board will retract its offer.

McConnell said the board is not in favor of either binding arbitration or fair share.

&uot;The board believes that each individual should have the opportunity to weigh the benefits and decide if they should pay union dues or not,&uot; McConnell said of the fair share issue. As for binding arbitration, McConnell said the board is satisfied with the current process of handling unresolved grievances through the court system.

OAPSE State Spokesman Mark Hatch said he found the board’s position on these two issues &uot;incredible.&uot;

&uot;How can you be against something like this?&uot; Hatch asked. &uot;We hope the community will see through this and see how reasonable these items are.&uot;

Hatch said the board’s opposition to binding arbitration is not justifiable since it could save the system money by eliminating the need to go to court.

&uot;These two items are standard in most union contracts,&uot; Hatch said. He categorized union negotiators as dejected and said the board’s refusal to allow fair share and binding arbitration clauses in the contract means the two sides are moving toward a crisis.

OAPSE represents approximately 50 custodians, bus drivers, food service workers, secretaries aides and maintenance workers. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune