By Jeff Gallatin
School officials have approved another four-year contract with a district employees union, which is essentially a copy of the one agreed to with the teachers’ union in August.
In the new agreement with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which retroactively runs from August 2012 to July 2015, the workers will receive raises of 1.95 percent in each of the first three years of the contract, with the fourth year seeing a hike of 1.75 percent. The 230-member union represents nonteaching workers in the district.
Another key portion of the pact will have members of the union increasing their contribution to their health care costs from the previous level of 7 percent. The contribution will increase to 10 percent in the first year of the contract, 12 percent in the second and 15 percent in the third and fourth years. Like the teachers union and district administrators, the OAPSE union agreed to a pay freeze two years ago in an attempt to get an operating levy passed.
Interim school Superintendent Terry Krivak said the contract will benefit the district.
“It’s practically a carbon copy of the agreement with the teachers,” Krivak said. “It’s a good deal, which helps forward education in the district.”
Krivak said the employees were clearly aware that the district, like many governmental agencies, remains in a tight budget mode.
“These people are a major part of the North Olmsted district’s success,” Krivak said. “To have a good district you must have workers like these who also want the district to succeed. They clearly are aware of the need to put the students first in anything involving the district.”
Krivak characterized the district negotiations with the union as professional and nonconfrontational.
“They were very knowledgeable and handled themselves well,” he said.
Krivak said health care costs will remain an important part of any negotiations for the foreseeable future. “Dealing with health care is something we all will have to continue to do,” he said.
Hope Reimann, president of the North Olmsted school’s OAPSE union, said the negotiations went as expected.
“Increased medical costs are a fact of life for everybody nowadays,” she said. “It’s common sense that we have to deal with it.”