Classified school employees plan pickets
Don Fritz has driven a school bus in Carson City for 11 years. He drives the special-needs kids and said he considers them his second family.
But he’s feeling alienated from district officials.
“They always come down and tell us what a good job we’re doing, but when it comes to money they don’t want to give us any,” he said.
Negotiations between the school district and classified employees have come to a halt after employees were told there was not enough money for raises.
“The Legislature approved a 2 percent increase for salaries and benefits,” said Dennis Ziemer, union representative. “All the district has offered is a 0 percent raise and increased insurance costs.”
Classified employees are all those who work for the school district, excluding teachers and administrators. The employees recently joined a national union, American Federation of Teachers.
Fritz and other classified school employees from Carson City met Wednesday evening to put their complaints on paper — giant paper.
With slogans such as, “Buses can’t drive themselves,” and “Zero percent, we say no,” members of the Classified Employees Association created signs for a series of picket-line marches to begin with Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“I don’t like to do it,” Fritz said. “This isn’t good for either side.”
About 30 classified employees attended the rally to make signs, some bringing spouses and children.
Kathy Brown, a teacher’s assistant, wrote on her sign, “Love our jobs, hate 0 percent.”
“We earn our pay, we really do,” she said. “We give a lot and we get a little.”
Ziemer said, along with the raise, union officials have asked for adjustments made to policies regarding sick leave and the pay scale. They also suggested multi-year contracts.
“The district has no interest in any of it,” he said.
He attributes the breakdown in communication to Charles Cockerill, the attorney representing the district in negotiations.
He would prefer an interest-based negotiation process which allows union representatives and district officials to speak directly without having to go through a lawyer.
“The attorney has been very demeaning,” Ziemer said. “He talks down to our employees. We need to take the attorney out of the picture.”
He said if a resolution is not reached Tuesday, members will picket the businesses of the individual school board members.
School district officials declined to comment because negotiation proceedings are confidential.
Carson City teachers belong to the National Education Association. They have also declared impasse.
Employees will begin picketing around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City School Board meeting
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Carson City Community Center, Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.