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Snoqualmie Schools' classified workers request mediation
Contract negotiations are not going well for the Upper Valley’s Public School Employees union. After two picketing sessions before and mass attendance at two meetings of the Snoqualmie Valley School Board, PSE members officially requested a mediator’s help last week.
A Public Employee Relations Commission mediator, Robin Romeo, has been assigned to the negotiations between the district and the nearly 200 transportation, food service, custodial, maintenance and warehouse employees and various instructional assistants.
The request for a mediator surprised school district staff, who felt that the negotiations, which began last spring, were progressing. According to several union members picketing before the Oct. 10 school board meeting, however, the district and the union are far apart on the main issues of compensation and health insurance.
Union members are asking for a package comparable to the teachers’ contract, approved in early September as the teachers prepared to go on strike. That three-year contract included an annual 2 percent pay increase.
The district, union, and mediator are scheduled to meet Tuesday, Oct. 22, to continue negotiations. Snoqualmie Valley is also still negotiating a new contract with the Snoqualmie Valley Administrative Secretaries Association, representing school secretaries and receptionists. Compensation, health insurance and health room assistance are the issues yet to be resolved in those discussions.
Both unions began negotiations last spring, but suspended talks in August until the district resolved its contract with the teachers’ union.
Most of the district’s employees, including coaches, are represented by some type of union. Only about 30 staffers are not represented. This group last received a pay increase of 1 percent in 2010, according to district staff.