Contract negotiations have gone to fact-finding.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- The board that runs Fairhaven school and its programs has postponed a decision to furlough nine personal-care assistants until next month, after an evenly split vote.
At a Trumbull Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Board meeting Monday, two board members supported layoffs, two opposed them and one board member abstained.
Two members were absent from the monthly meeting.
Delaying the decision until next month will allow the board more time to study the issue, said Fairhaven chief financial officer Thomas Stanko.
The personal-care assistants are members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local 1992 who help adults in Fairhaven's sheltered workshops clean and use the toilet.
Cutting nine of the 14 people in this position would save Fairhaven more than $20,000 a month, said Superintendent Dr. Douglas Burkhardt.
"There is no good area to cut," he said. "We think that this decision will have a minimal impact."
Several parents spoke against the layoffs.
Personal-care assistants were targeted because their work can be picked up by other employees, Burkhardt said. They are classified as service employees.
Burkhardt said he could not discuss if the cuts were part of recently concluded negotiations with AFSCME 1992, which represents 270 Fairhaven employees. Union members have been working without a contract since Aug. 31.
Union expected to vote
Union members are expected to vote Thursday on a fact-finder's report. The union has twice rejected a tentative agreement that was approved by the board last month.
The board has not scheduled a vote on the report, Burkhardt said. If the board does not vote, the fact-finder's recommendations will automatically be added to the tentative agreement the board already approved.
"We don't have any problem with the fact-finding report," he said.
Burkhardt said the cuts at Fairhaven were required because of diminishing state and federal funding, he said.
The Trumbull County Board of Mental Health and Developmental Disability, which runs the Fairhaven programs, is also concerned what might happen if two levies that raise a combined $7 million a year are allowed to expire next year.
Burkhardt said the board has not decided whether voters will be asked to renew or replace the levy, or at which election.