35 foodservice workers with ISD 200 started their strike on Tuesday morning, after a fruitless negotiation session late last week. Hal Goetz, a spokesperson for SIEU Local 284 commented on the negotiations.
Goetz also commented on the contract terms that the union is seeking.
The current contract expired in June of 2022.
Here is the response from the School district:
The Hastings Public Schools bargaining team met with the Food Service group’s representatives last Thursday, February 2, 2023, for a fourth day of mediation. The parties left mediation without an agreement.
To give you an update on the status of negotiations, the District offered the Food Service group a package comparable to what other employee groups have recently accepted in negotiations. The District has also repeatedly attempted to modify its proposals during mediation to address concerns the Food Service union has raised while also being consistent with other recent settlements. The District’s overall approach to negotiations has been to provide equal treatment across employee groups as much as possible.
During last Thursday’s mediation, the District did not receive any new financial proposals from the union even though the parties’ previous mediation session ended with the understanding that the union would review costing data and provide a new proposal. Instead, the union chose to make a proposal, with no changes to their financial position, that included a new item. Despite the lack of a new union proposal on wages and benefits, the District provided multiple proposals that are in line with what comparable neighboring school districts pay and that is consistent with what other District employee groups have already accepted during the current cycle of negotiations. Unfortunately, after four full days of mediation, the union leadership continues to pursue a wage and benefit package they have not been able to justify with comparisons to neighboring school districts, nor have they presented any data to support their financial or benefits proposals. While the District fully understands the challenges faced by employees in the current economic environment, it would be fiscally irresponsible for the District to agree to the costly union proposals, particularly given that they have provided no justification whatsoever.
This morning, the School Board met and approved a Strike Plan Resolution as well as a Best, Last, and Final Resolution. Both of these documents, as well as the Last, Best, and Final offer, can be seen as meeting documents on Board Book for the February 6th Special Meeting.
The following is a summary of the key provisions outlined in the District’s final offer:
The District is offering a two-year collective bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024.
In terms of individual impact, the District’s final offer provides substantial pay increases going as high as 31.2 percent spread over two years.
28 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit will receive a pay increase of 20 percent or higher spread over two years.
50 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit will receive a pay increase of 15 percent or higher spread over two years.
75 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit will receive a pay increase of 10 percent or higher spread over two years.
Employees hired before January 1, 2023, and making $18.32 per hour or less will see a minimum pay increase of 12.6 percent spread over two years, ranging from 12.6 percent to as high as 31.2 percent depending on the employee’s date of hire and current placement on the salary schedule.
The District’s final offer removes the lowest three steps of the salary schedule in an effort to increase starting pay and pay for newer employees. The starting salary under the District’s proposal will increase from $13.85 per hour to $15.04 per hour in the first year of the contract. The starting salary will increase again to $15.34 per hour in the second year.
All employees hired on or before June 30, 2022, will receive a total of $1,200 in retention payments to be split into a one-time $600 payment to be made in each year of the contract.
Employees will not see an increase in their share of the premium contribution for single or family health insurance in year one of the contract. In year two, the District’s offer limits any increase in an employee’s share of the cost of family coverage to a maximum of $15 per month.
The District has agreed to increase the rate at which unused sick leave and essential leave are paid out by $2 per hour.
The District has agreed to language providing employees with a contribution toward approved non-slip footwear in the amount of $150 per year.
The District’s last, best, and final offer is designed to address current market conditions, as well as to increase starting pay and wages for newer employees. For more senior employees, the District’s last, best, and final offer will accomplish the following:
Top hourly pay for cooks will increase to $20.17 per hour in the first year of the agreement, which is higher than four of the six school districts Hastings Public Schools has identified as comparable school districts.
Top hourly pay for lead elementary school cooks will increase to $28.95 per hour in the first year of the agreement. Top pay for lead elementary cooks under the 2020-2022 collective bargaining agreement already exceeded the rate of the highest comparable school district by $2.62 per hour.
Top hourly pay for lead secondary school cooks will increase to $31.66 per hour in the first year of the agreement. Top pay for lead secondary cooks under the 2020-2022 collective bargaining agreement already exceeded the rate of the highest comparable school district by $1.67 per hour.
The District’s Last, Best, and Final offer to the Food Service bargaining unit is consistent with the financial terms and conditions that were negotiated and accepted by all six other hourly groups whose contracts were up during the District’s most recent cycle of negotiations.
As to information SEIU Local 284 has provided to the media, the District responds as follows:
Comparing positions in the Food Service group to other full-time, year-round positions is inaccurate and misleading. The Food Service group is composed of 35 employees, all of whom only work during the school year (174 days). Five of these employees work 7 to 8 hours per day, while the majority of the employees of this group only work 2 to 5.75 hours per day. The union’s argument that our Food Service employees are not being paid a fair wage fails to acknowledge that the overwhelming number of positions in the Food Service group involve limited hours and cannot be fairly compared to full-time positions.
The union has not provided any data in negotiations to explain what it considers a living wage for part-time employees working in Hastings. Instead, it appears the union’s proposals are motivated by a broader national union agenda that does not align with what is appropriate for our community or what is appropriate for an employee group that does not consist of full-time, year-round employees.
At this point, we continue to plan for the Food Service employee group to commence a strike tomorrow, February 7, 2023. We expect this to take place at the Middle School, so please plan accordingly. As mentioned previously, food service for students will look different for both breakfast and lunch during a strike. We will continue to provide information about how food service and other areas will be affected by the strike through appropriate channels.
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