BP reaches an agreement with transportation union

Published Jun 13, 2013 at 9:01 am (Updated Jun 13, 2013 at 9:01 am)

Bethel Park School District bus drivers said that they are pleased to be keeping their jobs.

“We kept our jobs, we kept our benefits,” said Beth Tomshay, union president. “We’re happy.”

At a special meeting June 10, school board members ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 84.

The union, which represents the district’s 60 bus drivers, three mechanics and 16 bus aides, had been working under the terms of a contract that expired in 2011.

The four-year contract, which will go into effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2015, freezes wages for the first three years of the contract. There will be a one percent wage increase for all aides and less senior drivers, as well as for mechanics, in the final year of the contract. The new contract formally designates full-time employees and part-time employees, with full-time employees working 30 or more regularly scheduled hours per week.

In addition, under the terms of the contract, both full-time and part-time employees will continue to be provided with school district subsidized health care insurance coverage through the Allegheny County Schools Health Insurance Consortium.

Under the new contract, drivers and aides will contribute eight percent of the premium for individual HMO medical insurance coverage only, beginning July 1, 2013, and 10 percent beginning July 1, 2014. Mechanics will contribute eight percent of the premium for all HMO medical insurance coverage beginning July 1, 2013, and 10 percent beginning July 1, 2014.

In April, union members accepted a mediator’s fact-finding report. School board members rejected that report and offered the union the compromise proposal, which was accepted by union members and ratified by the board.

Tomshay said the compromise proposal did not differ greatly from what was suggested by the fact-finder’s report.

District officials have said their transportation budget for the 2012-2013 school year was $4.2 million, and that they are looking at ways to cut expenses in all areas. They have been very open about the fact that they sought a bid from First Student, an independent student transportation company that provides busing for many districts.

Parents of district students however, have been outspoken in their objection to outsourcing, and in their support of union members.

Ron Sustich, a school board member, said that keeping the transportation operation in-house will cost the district approximately $350,000 more than outsourcing.

“This has been a difficult ordeal,” Sustich said of the decision. “I admire the transpiration union. I don’t think this district is ready to sell its buses.”

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