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Medford chapter ratifies contract

Medford Chapter 15 and the Medford School District have agreed on a new contract, with mixed results for classified employees in the district.

The prolonged negotiations included hard-won wage increases for employees, but they also saw health insurance premium contributions capped. Members ratified the agreement Wednesday, and the Medford School Board voted to accept the contract at an early morning meeting Thursday, Dec. 20.

“There will still be some of our members who will not experience a wage increase, but will still be paying towards their insurance and retirement,” said Brian Rowlett, Chapter 15 president. “Ultimately, we took it to our members for a vote and our members had a voice and ratified the agreement.”

Candy Hinkle and Amy Morell man the ballot table as members vote on a new contract between Medford Chapter 15 and the school district.

Contract negotiations began in April and reached an impasse in August, after which both sides entered mediation with a neutral third party. The current agreement was the result of two 16-hour mediation sessions.

“It’s been a long and difficult negotiation process,” said Brian Rowlett, Chapter 15 president. “The bargaining committee had the tough job of trying to figure out what would benefit our entire membership.”

About 80 percent of members who voted approved the agreement.

“This should not be interpreted as overwhelming support for the agreement,” said Cindy Drought, OSEA field representative. “… Some members will still be negatively impacted and we were unsuccessful in protecting our most veteran employees from a change in district retirement benefits. However, the resilience and commitment of this bargaining team has been inspiring.”

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