SP schools union OKs contract

Published 10:14 am Thursday, February 9, 2012

School board expected to sign Monda

SOUTH POINT — The Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) 480, which represents South Point school district classified employees, have voted to accept a contract proposal offered by the district.

The 54-7 vote came during a union meeting Tuesday night. The school board is expected to give its approval when it meets Monday night.

The union vote follows a late January meeting during which members of the school board and the union sat down to discuss the issues that separated the two sides.

Email newsletter signup

OAPSE 480 President Sandi Baise said the board backed off a bit on the issue of insurance, which was one of the stumbling blocks to an agreement before now.

The board had insisted the all employees begin paying a portion of their health insurance; the agreement calls for union members hired before 2002 to pay nothing so long as they have single plan insurance; those on a family plan will pay 25 percent. All employees hired after 2002 will begin paying 25 percent.

Another issue that put the two sides at odds was that of the cook coordinator’s position. Administrators had wanted to cut the hours of the position from 30 per week to 13 or less.

The woman who has that position, Donna Kincaid, has said she will leave that position at the end of the year anyway. Therefore the union has agreed to allow the administration to alter that position.

Another stumbling block was the so-called Article 27, which pertained to the reclassification of some jobs. Under the new agreement Article 27 remains in place although it can be brought up for consideration in February of next year.

District officials had wanted to remove a clause in the contract that allows the union to dictate the classification and reclassification of some classified positions. Superintendent Ken Cook had said in his prepared statement Article 27 hampers the board’s ability to manage the district.

Baise said the district wants to cut some positions and fill them with employees who essentially would do the same work for less pay and a different job title. A prime example of this is teacher’s aides versus instructional aides. While both perform roughly the same functions, the instructional aides are paid less.

Right now a teacher’s aide must pass a typing test that the instructional aide is not required to take. Baise said this odd discrepancy in job duties is one reason why the district’s job descriptions should be revised and updated.

“This is a huge problem that needs to be fixed,” Baise said.

Baise said while the union members got no wage increase from this contract, this can be reconsidered in February 2013 and each member did get a $500 signing bonus.

The two sides have been battling over a new plan since last summer. Baise said the union recently sent letters to the school board, explaining their side of the matter. The joint meeting followed soon after.

Board member Terry Blake said he is relieved the contract with OAPSE has been settled.

“I think we need to work together for the district,” Blake said. “I’m glad it’s settled. Sometimes we make things more complicated than they are.”

Baise lamented that the board had spent so much money on a union negotiator, Robert Cross, of the Portsmouth-based Cross Management, instead of sitting down with the union to begin with.

“We could have done this without Bob Cross,” Baise said. “It’s disappointing money was an issue with us but not with something like that.”