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Pa. school workers sign contract

July 14, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After two years of negotiations, the Chambersburg Area School District and the union representing support personnel came to terms on a five-year contract the board approved Wednesday night.

The board voted 7-0 with one abstention by Director William Fosnot to approve the pact, which is retroactive to the 1997-98 school year. The contract will give workers 3 percent increases for the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years; 3.5 percent in both 1999-2000 and 2000-2001; and 4 percent in 2001-2002.

The Chambersburg Area Educational Support Personnel Association voted 50-4 Tuesday to approve the contract, said President Cindy Stoner. Although membership in the association is about 70, the contract covers approximately 150 district employees who work as secretaries, aides, paraprofessionals, copy room clerks and computer technicians.

Stoner said support personnel will be paid a lump sum for the increases approved for the past two school years. The workers had not received a pay increase during the two-year negotiations.

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"We're not going to jump for joy," said Janie Nunley, a secretary at Coldbrook Elementary School. "I'm glad we have a contract, ... but I wish it could have been better."

One thing the association did not get was a step increment with the percentage increases. Stoner said the step increments would have been based on years of service.

"It's certainly the best contract we could have gotten under the present board negotiating team," said Diane Abbott, the association's vice president and a special-education teaching assistant.

"We got personnel leave and sick leave for our part-time people," Stoner said. District officials said most other employees already had that benefit.

The contract also provides for a grievance process for the support workers, said Stoner, a secretary to the library supervisor.

Noting the entire board had not seen the contract until Wednesday's meeting, Fosnot introduced a motion to table a vote until August. The motion died without a second.

The final contract language was hammered out during a six-hour negotiating session on July 6, according to Stoner. Jan Sulcove, the district's attorney, a representative of the association and a fact-finder from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, worked out the details.

Stoner said the association and board negotiating teams were in two separate rooms while the fact-finder and representatives met in a third.

According to Stoner, support workers still lag behind other employee groups in pay. She said cafeteria workers begin at more than $6 an hour and janitorial and maintenance workers start at more than $7 an hour.

Abbott said some support personnel start at $5.18 an hour, three cents above minimum wage.

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