Williamsport ESPs win a major battle in the fight against subcontracting
After a two-year battle, the Williamsport Area Education Support Professional Association (WAESPA), applauds a decision by the PA Labor Relations Board (PLRB) which calls on the Williamsport Area School District to rescind its contract with a private bus company and to reinstate the 38 former WAESPA drivers with back pay.
PLRB Hearing Examiner Donald Wallace charged the district with “committing an unfair labor practice” when the school board voted on June 2, 2009 to outsource its bus services and the jobs to Student Transportation of America (STA) in Punxsutawney.
“This decision validates what we have been arguing all along. The district did not bargain in good faith on the issue of subcontracting. Our goal is to have the jobs restored to the WAESPA. We believe we can do the work cheaper,” said PSEA Uniserv Representative Cary Kurtz.
The WAESPA has attempted to bargain a new contract with the district since January 2008. The WAESPA filed a charge of unfair labor practice with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in June, contending that the school district entered bargaining with the intent to subcontract the workers and did not bargain fairly with the union on the issue of subcontracting.
The PLRB decision was based on the following facts:
- the district solicited bids from private companies without notifying the association;
- the district provided the Association with no financial targets to avoid the subcontracting;
- the district refused to accept a proposal from the Association under which it would have saved more money; and
- the district prematurely declared an impasse in negotiations over the subcontracting and that the district entered into a subcontracting proposal prior to fact finding.
Both sides have 20 days to file exceptions to the PLRB’s decision. A fact finder’s report issued last August also supported the Association by declaring that the district had a healthy fund balance and that is was an inopportune time for the District to potentially place its own employees in the unemployment lines in order to boost its fund balance for future exigencies.
Problems with subcontracting
PSEA's 20/20 Vision for the Future clearly outlines the problems associated with subcontracting or the privitization of school employees. Research shows that when workers are privatized, "savings rarely occur; administrative tasks simply change; and public accountability can be lost."
Learn more at www.psea.org/Vision.