By Pat Jenkins
A new four-year contract between the Bethel School District and a union representing more than 1,000 of the district's employees has been finalized.
The agreement for 2017-20 was ratified in a vote Sept. 9 by members of the Bethel chapter of Public School Employees (PSE) of Washington. It covers transportation, maintenance, food-service, technology and office workers.
The vote, which was conducted Sept. 9 at the school district's transportation center, was 234 to 4 in favor, the union announced. The ratification came about three weeks after a tentative settlement was reached between negotiators for the union and the district, and nine days after the previous contract expired.
The old agreement, which had been in effect since Sept. 1, 2014, was scheduled to end on Aug. 31, shortly before the start of the 2017-18 school year.
The Bethel chapter of PSE has about 1,100 members. They include transportation workers, school bus assistants, the student nutrition staff, custodians, maintenance and technology workers, mechanics, para-educators and special services workers, secretaries and clerks, and transportation workers.
Some of the higher hourly pay under the new contract is $30-plus for maintenance workers (electricians, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, HVAC technicians), mechanics, and technical support personnel,
In the results of a membership survey posted on the union’s website, survey participants ranked wages as their top bargaining priority. They also gave high priority to lowering healthcare costs, and more than half of them said there isn’t adequate staffing for their departments or units.
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