Rock Hill School Board at odds with OAPSE union over janitor’s positions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2003

PEDRO - If the Rock Hill School District has four union custodial positions open, who should get first dibs on the jobs: union bus drivers or non-union substitute custodians? That question will likely be settled in court.

The school board Tuesday night voted 3-2 to again award four janitor’s positions to

four people who had been employed by the district as janitors on an as-needed basis prior to October 2002.

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Last year, the board advertised the four vacant positions

and 18 people, including several bus drivers and several substitute custodians, applied for the positions. The board voted 3-2 at that time to hire four substitute custodians. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 252 filed a grievance, alleging that the board violated its contract with the union when it hired non-union people ahead of union members to fill jobs covered by the union.

In his decision dated Aug. 2, arbitrator Mitchell Greenberg sided with the union and ordered the school board to rebid the positions.

In his decision, Greenberg said in cases where qualifications are equal, seniority is to be the determining factor as to who gets the jobs.

In a subsequent clarification, Greenberg said that because the four substitutes were hired when they should not have been, Greenberg determined that their tenure as full-timers could not be considered in their favor.

One of the people who has one of the jobs in question said he thinks he is doing a good job as a janitor, and that alone should be the determining factor in whether he keeps that post.

"This has been nothing but a hassle," Tim Blagg said. "If one of those bus drivers is more qualified to do my job, let them have it, but I don’t think politics should play a part in this."

Board members Carl Large and Wanda Jenkins voted against re-hiring the four subs.

"This is a tough decision," Large said. "I know you’re doing a good job, but the contract said the jobs have to go to the people with the most seniority. I really don’t have any control over this. This is what the arbitrator said."

Superintendent Lloyd Evans disagreed with Large and urged the board to vote to reaffirm the four positions. Evans said it is his belief that the four former subs have more qualifications since they have performed their duties on a substitute basis, often for years and are certified for certain custodial operations.

"If the union has a problem with this, let the attorneys fight it out," Evans said.

OAPSE field representative Karen Kuehne said she was disappointed that three board members, Troy Hardy, Rich Donohoe and Jackie Harris, chose to disregard the arbitrator’s decision, which is supposed to be binding. She predicted a legal battle to resolve the matter.

"Oapse has followed the contract it has with the school board," Kuehne said. "The arbitrator has ruled in our favor, and three members of the board are refusing to abide by the arbirtator’s decision, which means they are in violation of the law."