by Ashley Heeney

Reporter

Tallmadge -- The school district's 130 full- and part-time non-teaching employees will receive a 2.25 percent base raise after the Tallmadge Board of Education approved a contract at its meeting June 20.

The tentative two-year agreement was agreed upon between the Tallmadge Board of Education and the International Conference of Fireman and Oilers SEIU, AFL-CIO Local 100 School Employees Union.

The two entities had just four meetings since the beginning of May, said Tallmadge City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.

The 75 non-teaching employees who voted for the contract -- bus drivers, secretaries, aides, cafeteria workers, custodial and maintenance staff -- are represented by Local 100, said Ferguson.

Treasurer Jeff Hostetler said the number of classified employees receiving the raises totals 130. "The number '75' represents the voting members," he said.

Greg Riffle, Local 100 Union Steward on the negotiating team said, "everything went very nice."

Ferguson said union members ratified the contract June 13. The new contract will take effect July 1 and will expire June 30, 2009.

The employees will receive a 2.25 percent raise to the base in the first year and 2.50 percent raise to the base in the second year.

"As with most recent labor negotiations in any arena," Ferguson said, "the most significant contribution was health care."

The contract includes modifications in the health care plan, which include employees participating in sharing the cost of the plan, he said.

Hostetler said the health plan includes preventative care, a vision plan, and an office co-pay of $20, along with modifications to mail-order prescriptions.

"The employees will pay 7 percent of the funding rate (which equates to a premium) -- they were paying nothing before," he said.

"Never had to pay partial on health insurance, we're kind of anomaly in that we haven't been paying for awhile," commented Riffle.

A two-year contract was decided based on the district's current five-year financial forecast, according to Ferguson.

"Previous contracts have been for three years. However, based on the five-year forecast, the district could not enter into a three-year agreement due to the projected 2010 deficit," he said.

Ferguson praised Local 100 and the Board, "We both were able to balance the well-being of the district and the needs of our employees at the center of these negotiations during tough economic times."

"In these economic times, you never want to take concessions," said Riffle, "but you have to take into account what the big picture is financially."

Ferguson said teacher contracts are currently in negotiation.

"We are meeting regularly and the next meeting is in July," he said.

The teacher contracts expire Aug. 15.

E-mail: aheeney@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3911