Monday, June 15, 2009

Protests and Pleas Aside, Employee Concessions Are What Saved Jobs: Report

For the last week, the Salem News reported on developments in the Salem (Mass.) School District’s plans to privatize in-district special needs transportation at a cost savings of approximately $450,000.

Drivers, attendants, other union members, parents and children all took part in large-scale picketing and also provided emotional testimony at board meetings to protest the plan. Many cited their years of experience and the consistent, familiar and personalized service that they claimed only they could provide for their students with disabilities.

It turns out the privatization plans were dropped late last week, but only after the unionized special needs drivers and attendants agreed to major contract givebacks. They include cutting back their hours from 40 to 25 hours per week and adopting a new health plan that will increase doctor visit co-payments from $5 to $15.

"I hope it serves as an example some of our other bargaining units would look forward to," Mayor Kim Driscoll said about the concessions.

School districts as well as companies across the country have resorted to wage cuts or freezes and to health insurance reductions or restructuring as ways to respond to economic pressures. What are your experiences?

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We want this to be an open forum for the hundreds of thousands of people that are involved in transporting special needs students each day. We want to hear what you think, what's going on at your facility and what solutions you've found. But, please, keep it civil. Just like on the bus, we'll have no tolerance for attacks or anything defamatory. We won't write you up, but we'll delete the comments right away. So don't bother. But if you have something to share, this is your place.

STN Editors