Bethel Park school bus drivers approve a compromise

Published Jun 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm (Updated Jun 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm)

Members of the union which represents the Bethel Park School District bus drivers have approved a compromise position offered by the district, according to a union representative.

“(The membership) overwhelming approved (the compromise),” Richard Caponi, director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 84, said of the May 30 vote.

The union represents the district’s 79 bus drivers, mechanics and bus aides, who have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in 2011.

Caponi said the school board will vote on the proposal on June 10. Due to an agreement with the district, he refused to cite specifics of the agreement, but said that if the proposal is accepted by both parties, the option of the district outsourcing the busing is “off the table.”

“The district will not be making any public comments regarding the transportation negotiations until the board takes official action,” said Vicki Flotta, district director of communications.

Flotta did confirm that, if an agreement is reached, outsourcing will not occur.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for general purposes, along with its finance committee meeting, for 6:30 p.m. June 10.

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

Parents, citing their trust in the current employees as well as the bonds between their children and the drivers and aides, have spoken adamantly against outsourcing.

On April 29, union members accepted a mediator’s fact-finding report. School board members offered the compromise position and rejected the report.

According to the report, which is posted on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board website, among the issues that were still separating the two parties were wages, time off, the definition of what constitutes a full-time employee and healthcare benefits.

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