Delaware News

Two-year deal with bus drivers, food-service workers OK'd


The seven-month-long negotiation process for the two-year contract between the Delaware City School District and the United Electrical Workers ended Monday, Nov. 5, with the contract's ratification.

At their regular meeting that day, Delaware school board members approved the 2012-14 contract with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

Superintendent Paul Craft said the long negotiation process, which began in May, involved going through all of the complicated contracts.

"Conditions, hours and expectations for bus drivers are completely different than a cafeteria employee," he said. "It's very complicated."

He said some positions took time to reconcile but added he respects the process in the negotiating room and would not say specifically which positions those were.

"We were never at an impasse where I felt that we would not reach an agreement," he said. "It just takes time since it's such a complicated process."

The contract, which is retroactively effective from July 1, 2012, will continue through June 30, 2014. Changes in the contract include a 1.25 percent base-pay increase in the first year and a 0.75 percent increase in the second, with an additional 0.25 percent increase in the second year if total revenue projections exceed $45 million.

A one-time lump sum of $150 will be made to each UE employee, and certain employees will receive a pay adjustment to be in line with other districts.

Head cooks and assistant cooks will receive $1-an-hour increases in the first year, with a 20-cent-per-hour increase for other cooks in the second year.

Craft said the budget does not allocate funds for food-service employees because they are paid entirely through the free and reduced-price lunch program.

However, district leaders found their head cooks were being paid substantially less than those employed in other school districts.

"We are putting more and more responsibility on them due to the new healthy food requirements, and we needed to make an immediate adjustment to their pay," he said.

Craft said some of the issues dealt with during negotiations had to do with forced cuts as a result of state budget reductions.

"We have fewer custodians, fewer buses and routes, so those cuts had an effect on people," he said. "We have a different work environment than we did with the last contract."

Although the process took much longer than the signing of the teachers' union contract, Craft said he felt it's beneficial for the district.

"This contract is good in terms of managing our finances," he said. "It's a conservative contract that is good for our district and our taxpayers."