Ashland Fights to Preserve Rights

Ashland Chapter 42 is in mediation with the school district, pushing back against administration’s attempt to remove a key element of the contract.

The chapter picketed in front of the district office in November to show administrators that they intend to stand up for their rights.

The district is taking the curious position that transportation work rules have never been part of the contract, despite OSEA’s documented evidence that Ashland administration and classified school employees have bargained over the rules in the past.

“If this was taken out of the contract, we could not submit a proposal under negotiations. Unlike proposals, suggestions could then be ignored by the district,” Field Representative Ahrien Johnson said.

Under current conditions, both the district and the union can bring proposals to the table with a 150-day bargaining period. If the district is successful in its attempt to remove the transportation work rules from the contract, bargaining would be for a maximum of 90 days, after which the district could implement its final proposal.

“For the district to take the position that the ‘transportation work rules’ are not part of the contract is, frankly, absurd,” said Mike Tedesco, an attorney representing OSEA. “There is a four year history of bargaining over these rules. The district’s position ignores this reality and seeks to consult an alternative narrative that rejects what is apparent to all who lived through this process.”

It also could mean loss of income for regularly employed school bus drivers. Vacancies in bus routes are currently bid on a seniority basis, and all Ashland drivers have the opportunity to bid before outside applicants are considered. The right of first refusal on trips — a significant source of income for many drivers — could also be taken away from regularly employed drivers.

“Those are the kinds of things we have the right to bargain in our work rules,” Chapter President Tammy Burnett said.

Burnett added that the district has negotiated with the chapter over transportation work rules in the past, and she sees no reason to change this arrangement.

“It’s with us, not to us,” Burnett said.