Still no agreement between district, union

The Ashland School District has tentatively agreed to cost of living salary increases for its classified staff for both the current school year and 2017-18, and an adjusted payout for employees who plan to retire in 2017, but did not come to an agreement with the Oregon School Employees Association regarding whether or not the transportation department’s work rules should be included in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), according to interim superintendent Suzanne Cusick.

The two sides met before a state mediator at the district office Thursday, three days after classified employees picketed across the street from the district office, holding signs that read “Classified expect respect” and “With us, not to us.”

The district proposed during Thursday's meeting that a transportation committee be added to the list of committees in the CBA, the purpose of which would be, “to listen to, work with and resolve issues within our transportation department,” Cusick explained in an email to the Tidings. Salary increases of 2.5 percent for the current school year and 2.25 percent for 2017-18 were also tentatively approved, as was a 2.5 percent of gross salary payout of paychecks from July through December for those employees who plan to retire in 2017.

The clash over the work rules was not resolved, however, and the two sides are scheduled to meet again Dec. 6. In a letter addressed to Ashland’s classified staff Thursday and signed by OSEA’s “Ashland Chapter 42 Bargaining Committee,” the OSEA announced that it will be seeking legal council prior to the meeting.

The disagreement comes down to whether or not the transportation department’s work rules should be included in the CBA, a dispute which may come down to whether or not they've ever been included. On the latter question, the two sides do not see eye to eye.

“The OSEA Bargaining Team believes Transportation Work Rules (Transportation Handook) already exist in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),” Cusick wrote. “The District team, former OSEA President Callie Mercer and other OSEA members do not believe they ever were voted upon or ratified by OSEA Members. …While Transportation Work Rules have been discussed for many years, often as a re-opener, they have never been ratified by a vote of the membership or voted on by the School Board.”

The letter signed by the Ashland 42 Bargaining Committee disputes Cusick's claim.

“The District is maintaining that the Transportation Work Rules have never been part of the contract,” it reads. “In recent history alone, since 2011, we have been negotiating with the District over those same Work Rules, and we have documented evidence of such. Why would the District repeatedly negotiate the Work Rules if they weren’t part of the contract? And why would the District give us a proposal that would effectively remove the Transportation Work Rules from the contract if they aren’t currently part of the contract?”

Chapter 42's next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Dec. 1, in the Ashland Middle School library.

Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.

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