SOUTHINGTON One-third of strikers cross line

Workers hit the picket line the first day of classes.
SOUTHINGTON -- One-third of the members of the striking union representing school cafeteria workers, secretaries and bus drivers have crossed the picket line and returned to work.
Superintendent William Pfahler confirmed that five workers from the 15-member Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 673 have returned.
Those positions include three playground/cafeteria workers and two cafeteria workers.
Union officials couldn't be reached.
Members hit the picket line Aug. 25, the first day of classes at the 684-pupil school district. Union officials have said that the major sticking points are salary and health-care benefits.
The contract actually expired more than two years ago, June 30, 2001. On July 1 of this year, the board implemented a contract it had offered, which the support staff refused to recognize.
No negotiations have been scheduled because, Pfahler said, the school board believes a contract is in place.
The contract the board implemented is the same that was accepted by the teachers.
Parents help out
Pfahler said parent volunteers, who underwent background checks, have been cleaning the school and working in the cafeteria during the strike.
Last week, pupil attendance ranged between 91 percent and 94 percent, the superintendent said.
This week, it's been between 97 percent and 98 percent.
Sporting events scheduled at Southington, such as Saturday night's football game, have been moved to the other teams' fields, Pfahler said.

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