Rochester school leaders approved this week a new contract with the union that was most affected by the recent privatization of some school district services.
The district's Custodial, Maintenance, Grounds and Transportation union now has a three-year agreement with Rochester Community Schools. The union has about 40 members, down from about 290 at the beginning of 2012. About 250 positions transportation services with Durham School Services and custodial and some grounds positions with GCA.
"This group was significantly impacted by the contracting of custodial and transportation positions this spring," stated Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Romzek, "and we are very impressed with their professionalism throughout the past several months.
"They came to the table well prepared and we were able to pass along savings from the health plan changes in the form of salary increases."
The group experienced nearly 30 percent reductions in salaries and benefits in the 2009-12 contract, Romzek said.
The new contract, which takes effect immediately, calls for a 0.75 percent salary increase for the 2012-13 school year and 1.5 percent for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years.
In addition, the group will change health plans from a high deductible HMO product to a high deductible PPO product on Jan. 1. They will have increased co-pays for emergency room visits and prescriptions.
In other changes:
- Under the old contract, CMGT employees were paying 10 percent of the premium for health coverage. Beginning July 1, they began paying 20 percent of the cost of their coverage under the provisions of Public Act 152 of 2011.
- The new contract requires employees in this group to work eight hours a day in order to qualify for 80 percent cost-sharing by the district. The previous agreement provided insurance when an employee reached six hours a day. (The new contract does allow employees to elect health coverage at six hours a day, but they must pay 30 percent of the premium.)
- The new contract provides health coverage for the employee only, and they must pay the difference in the premium cost if they want coverage for family members. This new coverage level takes effect for all new employees hired after Sept. 1, 2012.
These changes will help the district contain future health care costs for this group, Romzek.
"We are pleased with the leadership the Blue Group has shown in being the first Rochester employee group to ratify a new contract," Romzek said.
"They group fully understands the financial challenges facing the school district, and they made changes to their health plan to help curb these costs for years to come."
The district is still in contract negotiations with other employee groups, including teachers, administrators, secretaries and paraeducators.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Board of Education will hold a special meeting to discuss the contract with the Rochester Education Association. The meeting will be held in the Harrison Room of the district's administration building and is open to the public.