CAO, OAPSE to sit down at table again table this evening

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Negotiators for the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 170, which represents Head Start employees, are expected to sit down at the bargaining table tonight and try to hammer out a new contract. The old one expires Dec. 31.

CAO Director of Human Resources James Ingram said discussions thus far have been productive.

"We're down to a handful of issues and articles, some of the tougher issues," Ingram said.

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OAPSE Field Representative Karen Kuehne agreed the issues left to be resolved are difficult but said an agreement is still possible. "Both sides are working hard to reach an agreement and the union is hopeful for a resolution at the table," she said.

As for complaints of unfair labor practices, Ingram defended cutbacks in work hours for some child care workers and bus drivers- an issue cited by the union as serious - by saying that the changes were necessary since the agency's funding had been cut.

Ingram said however that the union had previously filed grievances over these issues and an arbitrator had on two separate occasions upheld management's right to cut some positions from full-time to part-time. A third grievance over the same issue is making its way through the system.

The union represents approximately 110 bus drivers, cooks, teachers, child care workers, maintenance and custodial workers at nine Head Start sites throughout the county.