By Jordan Cohen
Nonteaching employees in the Mathews Local School District, whose contract ratification vote deadlocked at 12-12 last week, voted again Monday night on the same proposal and ratified it.
The vote on the three-year package was 17-9, according to Ron Blatt, field representative for Local 611 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees. The local represents the district’s 30 custodians, cafeteria employees and bus drivers.
Blatt had said earlier that the union would have issued a 10-day strike notice had the new contract been rejected Monday night. The local had given a strike notice effective March 14, but withdrew it after negotiations with a federal mediator.
“I think the difference is that we felt we need to be there for the kids and the community,” Blatt said.
The agreement, which is retroactive to the beginning of the current school year, provides no pay increases the first two years and a one-half percent increase in its final year. All full-time employees will have to pay 10 percent of their medical-insurance premiums, an increase above the 5 percent some members were paying. Blatt said local members who work more than 20 hours but less than 40 hours weekly will pay a slightly higher percentage.
Superintendent Lewis Lowery, who refused to return to negotiations after the union’s deadlocked vote last week, said he was relieved with the outcome.
“I’m really pleased with this result, and I compliment the union leadership,” the superintendent said.
Lowery said the district can concentrate on its efforts to get the community to approve a $24.7 million bond issue for a new kindergarten-through-12th-grade facility on the May 6 ballot. The new building, to be financed by a 9.35-mill levy, would replace the district’s aging schools including the combination high school-junior high that is nearly 100 years old.