Birdsboro >> The union representing support staff in the Daniel Boone Area School District has authorized a strike if its representatives are not able to reach a new contract agreement with the district.

The Daniel Boone Federation of Support Staff, Local 4954 of the American Federation of Teachers, voted unanimously Saturday to authorize a strike if necessary to reach “a fair and equitable contract” with the school district, a press release stated Monday.

The union’s contract expired on June 30, 2015, but the union’s 56 members — classroom assistants, secretaries, maintenance workers and groundskeepers — have continued to work under the existing collective bargaining agreement, the release stated.

The Daniel Boone School Board threatened to privatize 32 jobs, as it did with 30 cafeteria employees at the end of the 2014-15 school year, the press release stated.

In a letter to Superintendent James Harris, union members said, “These employees stand to suffer a loss of their pensions, health care, accrued sick, personal and vacation days upon termination from the district. ... Studies of privatized custodial and maintenance positions clearly demonstrate a loss of job efficiency resulting in less service to the students and their schools.”

The union urged Harris to intervene on their behalf, saying, “Instead of employees who are tax-paying members of the community and who are familiar faces to the children, these employees will be replaced by strangers who have no vested interest in the well-being of the children of the Daniel Boone School District. They will be at-will employees without job security who come and go from these positions without the dedication to their jobs or the students they are there to serve,” the release stated.

The union workers rejected a tentative agreement last summer because it included higher than necessary healthcare surcharges for family coverage, according to the release.

“We are committed to reaching an amicable settlement with the district,” co-president Frank Abbattiscianni said in the statement. “Daniel Boone support staff already pays 12 percent of their healthcare premiums. The surcharge would erode any wage gains and further penalize employees for having healthcare.

Dave Tirpak, co-president, said that while the outsourcing moratorium was very important to the members, the surcharge would reduce paychecks below a living wage.”

A representative of the school district could not immediately be reached for comment by press time.

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