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Middletown Transcript
  • Appo school board inks first of three pending labor contracts

  • The Appoquinimink school board this week unanimously approved a new, 3-year labor deal with its food service workers – one of three employee unions that have been working under collective bargaining agreements that expired this summer.
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  • The Appoquinimink school board this week unanimously approved a new, 3-year labor deal with its food service workers – one of three employee unions that have been working under collective bargaining agreements that expired this summer.
    "It took a little longer than we had hoped, but we think it's a fair contract and I would like to thank the school board for approving it," Appoquinimink Food Service Workers Association (AFSWA) President Rose Schultz said after Tuesday's vote. "Getting it done also took a lot of work by our four-member negotiating team, who deserve a lot of the credit."
    The roughly 90-member union of cooks and school cafeteria workers had been working without a new contract since their previous deal expired in August.
    The Appoquinimink Education Association, which represents more than 650 teachers and professional staff, also have been working under the terms of an expired labor deal since August, while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 65 custodians, have been without a new contract since June.
    A fourth collective bargaining agreement, covering 95 paraprofessionals, is set to expire next year.
    District officials and union leaders with the AEA both said this week that they believe a deal will get done before the end of the school year.
    While neither side was willing to discuss their ongoing negotiations, both attribute the delay, at least in part, to labor talks beginning later than usual as a result of February's failed referendum, which left district finances uncertain until a second, smaller referendum was approved by voters in May.
    As a result of the district's constrained financial outlook, the food service workers union reportedly agreed to forgo raises in the first year of their new three-year deal in favor of having 30 minutes restored to the work day of seven members whose hours were cut over the last year.
    Union members will, however, continue to receive graduated annual pay increases based on experience.
    In the second year of the deal, AFSWA members will be eligible to receive an additional increase in their hourly rate by completing two, 10-week education courses, typically offered by Delaware Technical Community College or the state department of education.
    Starting in the fall of 2014, completion of the first two courses will result in an hourly rate increase of 30 cents, followed by a 60-cent raise after the third and fourth courses and an 80-cent raise after completion of the fifth and sixth course. Those rate increases were previously set at 20 cents, 50 cents and 70 cents, respectively.
    The $1.25 local contribution to the starting $12.19 hourly pay rate for food service workers and the $2.90 local contribution to the $11.79 starting rate for cooks will remain steady throughout the first two years of the contract.
    Page 2 of 2 - But, in the third and final year of the contract, all AFSWA members will receive an across-the-board 10-cent increase in their hourly pay, including first-year employees.
    Meanwhile, the district will increase its contribution to health care premiums for food service workers who qualify from $20 to $30, starting immediately.
    The district also agreed to purchase five work shirts per year for union members, up from three allocated under the former contract. The annual uniform allowance – which union members use to purchase pants, no-skid shoes, hair nets and socks – also will increase from $125 to $150 this year.
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