Bethel Park sets deadline for transportation compromise proposal

Published May 24, 2013 at 10:48 am (Updated May 24, 2013 at 10:48 am)

The Bethel Park School Board has given the district’s transportation unit until 5 p.m. May 28 to respond to a compromise proposal from the district.

Donna Cook, school board president, said the district sent the proposal to the union on May 20, but had not heard back from them before the May 22 board meeting.

“We’re not ignoring what you sent to the mediator,” said union President Beth Tomshay. “We haven’t had time to get the union together to vote.”

Board members rejected a fact-finding report released May 13. The members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 84, which represents the district’s 79 bus drivers, mechanics and bus aides, accepted the report, which was issued on April 29.

Union members have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in 2011.

District officials, who said their transportation budget for the 2012-2013 school year was $4.2 million, have been very open about the fact that they have sought a bid from First Student, an independent student transportation company that provides busing for many districts. However, board members have said that their decisions on the negotiations with the union have nothing to do with outsourcing transportation.

“We just can’t let this go on forever,” said Ron Sustich, a member of the board.

It was Sustich that suggested the May 28 deadline for the union to respond. The school board is scheduled to meet that night.

Among the issues still separating the two parties are wages, time off, the definition of what constitutes a full-time employee and healthcare benefits.

The fact-finder’s report is posted on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board website.

At several board meetings earlier this year, parents, citing the bond between their children and the current drivers and aides, have begged board members not to outsource transportation.

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