Nearly 200 active and retired members of Local 160 at Parma Local Schools know first-hand the value of their union after negotiating a deal to pay general monitors and special education assistants (SPEDs) more than $1 million!
We recently sat down with Local 160 members Julie Sisunik, Secretary (Union Treasurer); Elaine Crow, Classroom Assistant (Union President); Heather Holmes, Secretary (Union Secretary); Sharyn Ficyk, SPED (Union VP); Judy Payor, SPED; Tara Wallace, SPED; Jennifer Petrasek, SPED; Jodi Mika, SPED; and Tammy Pyatt, SPED, to hear about the deal and how it benefits the members financially and in the classroom.
Their story is below. And take a look at the video to hear from them how important this win is and how it has impacted Local 160 members. They’re sticking with their union! And they think you should, too!
In a huge win for members of Local 160 at Parma City Schools, nearly 200 current and former general monitors and special education assistants (SPED/Paraprofessionals) have received backpay and settlement payments of more than $1 million dollars.
This multi-year payout is the result of action brought by OAPSE and Local 160 when the administration was found to have violated contract provisions and did not pay members the appropriate negotiated rate of compensation when the members were found to be working without a substitute.
The dispute involved premium pay compensation for these classifications who were found to be working short-staffed when normally a substitute was to be assigned. In this situation, the members were to be compensated an additional $10 per hour on top of their regular pay. The contract mandated premium pay for each employee who worked in a classroom setting or was found to be monitoring students without the full complement of staff.
The dispute between the parties began when the employer implemented an interpretation of the premium pay language by splitting the $10 per hour premium pay when there were multiple employees eligible. This resulted in premium pay compensation being less than the negotiated $10 per hour for each eligible member.
After the implementation of the new premium pay language in the 2019-2022 contract and with no resolution, OAPSE Local 160 filed a grievance on August 25, 2020. The parties continued to try to resolve the dispute throughout the grievance process, but with no resolution, the union filed for expedited arbitration, and that concluded on April 6, 2022. The arbitration resulted in an opinion and award in favor of the Union.
The parties entered into negotiations for an anticipated 2022-2025 successor agreement, and it was in that forum that both parties demonstrated a willingness to put differences aside and agreed to work together to resolve outstanding staffing issues and the additional work involved to finally bring a resolution that included backpay and moved forward the settlement on the premium pay language.
Together, they decided to remove the premium pay language from the contract and replace it with a $2,000 stipend for the 2022-2023 school years paid in three equal installments. Each year after, a $1,500 stipend will be provided in four equal installments to each general monitor and each SPED/Paraprofessional who work in these classifications.
The agreement also included back pay settlement for every SPED / Paraprofessional and General Monitor. As a result, nearly 200 active and retired SPED / Paraprofessional and General Monitor have received payments of $1,800 dollars for the 2020- 2021 school year and 2021-2022 school year – totaling more than $1 million dollars that has already been paid to OAPSE members for each of those two years.
Local 160 President Elaine Crow credited the union and management for their resolve to work together to solve this problem and move forward.
“It was the working relationship between the Union officers and the District administration that was instrumental in resolving these differences. But more importantly, it shows the District’s recognition towards each OAPSE member for the job they do and recognizes that we are an integral part of the educational experience. We take a real hands-on approach in educating our students, and we make a difference at Parma City Schools.”