Buckeye Local employees plan to strike

RAYLAND – Members of the Union Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) working at Buckeye Local School District have voted to go on strike, following the rejection of a contract on offer from the Board of Education.

On Tuesday evening, the school board’s offer was rejected by a vote of 59 to six. Immediately following that, 60 workers voted to strike, while four voted against the strike and one person abstained. These employees include secretaries, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, aides and maintenance workers.

Union officials said they would file paperwork Wednesday to give a 10-day notice for the strike. This gives the school board time to conduct negotiations and possibly avoid the strike if they choose.

The problem with the offer for the upcoming year is insurance. According to Superintendent Mark Miller, the cost of insurance has risen to a point where the Board of Education must act. Their solution was to add a deductible of $200 for singles and $400 for families.

While the OAPSE members are slated to receive a 25 cent pay raise this year and the next, the sentiment expressed is that the raises are not enough to cover the insurance costs.

“This is a disappointing change of events,” said Miller. “We all must continue to work together to come to some resolution that best supports the students and employees of the district.”

The district has been in negotiations with OAPSE since March of 2013. Miller said that both sides seemed to hit a standoff on insurance in June.

Currently, OAPSE pays $45 a month for the insurance plan, which adds up to $540.

Back in January, teachers and administrators took an offer for a $500 deductible for singles and $1,000 deductible for families. They also received a 1.75 percent raise.

“When you do that math, that equals out to about 25 cents,” Miller explained.

Teachers and admin raises operate on percentages for the year, while OAPSE member raises operate on cents by the hour.

“It’s to the point where the district cannot continue to afford this insurance plan,” Miller said. “It needed to change, so they got a plan with a deductible. [OAPSE] said they couldn’t afford that, but at the same time the board couldn’t afford what they were paying either.”

Warner may be reached at mwarner@timesleaderonline.com.