Lincolnview school, fledgling classified union at contract impasse

By J Swygart -

MIDDLE POINT — An impasse has reportedly been reached in negotiations between Lincolnview Local Schools and the Lincolnview Classified Education Association, a bargaining unit which represents bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, food service workers and paraprofessionals at the Van Wert County school district.

According to a statement released Monday by the Ohio Education Association, contract negotiations have come to a standstill after five months of unsuccessful collective bargaining efforts.

Classified employees at Lincolnview organized into an affiliate of the Ohio Education Association in June, according to a statement issued by the OEA. The school district’s website lists the names of 28 classified employees, all of whom are part of the bargaining unit, according to an OEA spokesperson.

A tentative date for mediation has been set for April 2, when the school district is on spring break. A representative of the State Employment Relations Board will sit down with representatives of the parties as an independent, third-party mediator in an attempt to resolve the lingering labor dispute.

The school board has been represented by the Columbus law firm of Scott Scriven during the five months of contract negotiations. The Lincolnview classified employees are represented by the OEA.

Pat Johnson, an OEA spokeswoman, said Monday that the bargaining unit created five months ago to represent classified employees at Lincolnview has been forced to “start from scratch” in negotiating a first-time contract.

“We’re seeking a three-year contract that addresses wages as well as the terms and conditions of employment” with the school district, Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had little luck in getting the [school] board to meet with us. They’ve scheduled negotiating sessions from four to six weeks apart.”

Lucy Rice is a bus driver with the district and is the co-president of the new bargaining unit. She declined to talk about specifics of the contract talks but said health insurance was a key factor in the decision by classified employees to unionize.

“We’re just eager to move on. We’ve tried to bargain for five months now, but it doesn’t feel like the board has been very cooperative,” Rice said.

Lincolnview Superintendent of Schools Jeff Snyder was unavailable for comment Monday.

By J Swygart

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

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