Board retains bus drivers, custodians

FLINT TWP. — Carman-Ainsworth students boarding school buses next month should see a familiar face behind the wheel, after the school board voted unanimously Tuesday night not to privatize bus drivers’ jobs.

The board also voted to retain its custodians rather than contract with an outside service.

Transportation and custodial services both were on the chopping block for the past few tense months as the board wrestled with holding down mounting expenses and dwindling resources.

For the second year in row, the board considered contracting outside services to save money. But an outpouring of appeals at recent school board meetings from bus drivers and custodians led to a decision to allow labor union representatives to pitch a proposal alongside those being reviewed for outside contractors.

Concessions reached in collective bargaining negotiations mainly involved reduced health care costs.

A tentative agreement approved with the Custodial/Maintenance/ Office Personnel/Paraprofessional Association (CMOPP) includes concessions that members will switch from a current Health Plus health care HRA to one provided by the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) and also pay full deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.

The agreement also states that CMOPP members classified as 52-week employees will take five furlough days per calendar year. The agreement spells out the timeframe for those unpaid days which include three days after Christmas during the 2012-13 school year. In subsequent years, the unpaid furlough days will be during the week of the Fourth of July including the holiday.

All other articles of the collective bargaining agreement remain unchanged.

The tentative agreement with the C-A Transportation Association stipulates the switch to the MESSA HRA and member paying full deductibles for health care which are $1,250 for single coverage and $2500 for family coverage. The collective bargaining agreement is otherwise unchanged.

The board also approved a letter of agreement with the C-A Education Association which stipulated reductions in health care benefits and wages.

Prior to approving the tentative agreements. the board went into closed session during the meeting for the stated purpose of considering both employee concessions and contracted services.

Several affected bus drivers and custodians were at the meeting to receive the good news and expressed thanks for the board’s decision to save their jobs.

Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff praised the “unprecedented” spirit of cooperation during negotiations with bargaining units and said he was glad to have the contracts settled so the focus could move on preparations for educating students in the fall.

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