Chambersburg school support staff working without contract since June

January 11, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - About 80 members of the support staff for the Chambersburg Area School District showed up at this week's school board meeting sporting badges reminding the board that they have been working without a contract since June 30.

Members of the Chambersburg Area Education Support Personnel Association crowded the conference room Wednesday to remind the board of the impasse. Vice President Diane Abbott, the association's chief negotiator, said three main issues remain unresolved: Aligning compensation with duties and responsibilities; contract language about seniority; and job classifications.

The association represents teacher, lunch room and student aides, secretaries, technical personnel and licensed practical nurses, association President Thelma Ruth said. The expired contract was an extension of a contact dating from 2000, she said.

Abbott said there are points of agreement between the association and the district and that the association had not rejected an October mediator's report in its entirety.


Many of the support positions require an associate's degree or equivalent and starting pay for some positions is too low, Abbott said.

Superintendent Joseph Padasak Thursday acknowledged the need to improve wages of the support staff, but noted the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board mediator's report, which the district accepted, recommends increases of 7 percent for both 2007-08 and 2008-09, followed by 5 percent and 4 percent pay increases.

"The mediator thinks it was a great offer," Padasak said. About 40 percent of the approximately 300 support staff are association members, but a contract will apply to them all, he said.

There has been progress in the effort to reduce the number of job classifications from 13 to seven, said Abbott, with two jobs classifications remaining to be negotiated.

The association wants language in the contract that, if a district employee applies for another position and meets all the qualifications, that person should have priority over someone with less seniority or from outside the district, she said.

"We just want to hire the best candidate, and sometimes that's not someone from within the system," Padasak said. The district wants testing procedures and more flexibility in hiring and promoting, he said.

Negotiations on the contract began more than a year ago and the next step is the fact-finding process. Padasak said that could delay a contract several more months.

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