Local 51 Wins Fair Wages in New Contract

The 100 members of Local 51 at Morgan Local Schools are celebrating their new contract, which includes wage increases of 6 percent in the first year of the agreement and 4 percent in the following two years for a total of 14 percent.

The bus drivers, aides, secretaries, mechanics, food service workers, custodians and secretaries went back to work Monday, March 13.

Local 51 was forced on strike March 1. All they wanted was fair wages and a decent contract so they can take care of their families while they take care of the students at Morgan Local Schools.

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Below is information about a community rally and the issues Local 51 members are striking for.

More than 200 students, parents, and members of the McConnelsville community showed their strong support for members of OAPSE Local 51 Sunday (February 26) at a Rally for Fairness at Morgan Local Schools on the courthouse lawn.

Community leaders and union members called on Superintendent Kristi Barker and the Morgan Local Schools Board of Education to get back to negotiations and give the 100 members of Local 51 wage increases that will bring them in line with surrounding school districts. Some area districts pay as much as $9 more per hour for the same job. Local 51 represents bus drivers, classroom aides, health aides, mechanics, maintenance workers, custodians, food service employees, and secretaries

Secretary Tabitha Rushing is a former bus driver and spoke to the crowd about the critical role that school employees play in the lives of the students at Morgan Local Schools.

“We love our kids. And they count on us to be there for them and support them throughout their day. We know these kids. We build relationships. When we are out in the community, kids come up and hug us. When we are in the grocery store, they run up to us to say, “Hi,” Rushing said.

Rushing and the other Local 51 members are troubled about the school district hiring private companies to do their work if the district comes back from the so-called remote learning threatened by the superintendent.

“We know their allergies. We know the proper nutrition they need to learn well. We make sure no child goes hungry. But the people coming in from the private company hired by the district don’t know these kids, and they are just going to be thrown into the kitchens and told to feed our kids. It just won’t be the same, and the students are going to pay the price,” said Cook Brenda Roberts.

She apologized for being emotional, “but these kids are so important to us. We don’t want to be away from them. We just want fairness.”

She said employees are especially upset that the private replacements will be paid more than the cooks are making, according to advertisements run by the district.

Members of Local 51 have been working without a contract since July 2022. They make an average of $23,500 and are asking for wage increases of 6 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent over three years.

The workers are paying 20 percent more for their health care over the last two years, resulting in as much as $753 more annually.

Superintendent Kristi Barker started with the school district in 2020 with a salary of $125,000. She received an $18,000 raise in her second year and now makes $143,000. That’s a 14.4 percent increase in one year.

“With an average salary of $23,500, our members would see a raise of about $118 per month if we got the 6 percent we are asking for in the first year. And the additional health care costs eat up half of that. All we want is fairness and a living wage so we can take care of our families while we are taking care of the students at Morgan Local Schools,” said Local 51 President Tom Quaintance.

The union is calling on Barker to get back to negotiations and settle the contract to avoid a strike, which is set to begin Wednesday.

“She won’t even talk again until March 10 and is forcing students out of the classrooms and into ‘remote learning’. We want the school board and the superintendent to recognize how much this is going to impact our community and get back to negotiations so we can all move forward,” Quaintance said.