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Fairland board, union may have agreement

In a late night meeting at the Ramada Inn in Portsmouth last night, the board offered to give non-certified workers the full binding arbitration and fair share they had asked for, plus a 50-cent-an-hour wage hike on the third year of a three-year contract. The board also asked to reduce its share of the employees' health insurance from 85 percent to 70 percent.

"The board feels like this proposal is a very fair one and the union should be content with it," Superintendent Jerry McConnell said. "The board is anxious to have this settled."

McConnell said it was his understanding that the union would meet at noon today to vote on the proposal.

Ohio Association of Public School Employees

Southeast District Representative Mark Hatch said he was disheartened that the board chose to change the insurance ratio.

"What you have here is high-level game playing," Hatch said. "For them to come in at the last hour, the last minute with this is very distasteful."

Meanwhile, outside the meeting the negotiators were met by a caravan of parents who said they're growing frustrated with the strike and want to see a resolution.

"It's time to end the strike and get these workers back on the job," parent Patty Earl said. "I hope the board gives them what they want. All they want is binding arbitration. That doesn't cost anything. It's time they settle it."

Earl said the traffic around the schools continues to be a problem. Without buses running, parents have to bring their children, creating long lines of cars in the mornings and afternoons.

"I sat in traffic from 2:03 ’til 2:25 yesterday afternoon, just waiting to get on the lot," Earl said.

The bus drivers, cooks, custodians and other non-certified workers have been on the picket line for nearly four weeks. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune