The Jordan-Elbridge School District has declared an impasse on contract negotiations with the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. (CSEA), which represents twenty-six Jordan-Elbridge Central School District school bus drivers and school bus attendants, due to a dispute over health insurance premiums.
The school district is requesting that drivers pay all of their health insurance premiums. In the current contract, drivers pay five percent for single coverage and fifteen percent for family.
"We have outstanding bus drivers," said Marilyn Dominick, Superintendent of Schools. "But, the reality is that the current contract is too rich in benefits for part-time employees in this space. It does not offer a high enough hourly wage to attract new drivers."
The CSEA says that they are being treated unfairly, and is hoping that the community thinks so too.
"Our transportation workers live and pay taxes in this district, and we're only looking to make ends meet," said CSEA union President and bus driver Mickey Geelan. "The district's unfair proposal doesn't allow us to do that, and we're hoping that district residents will take offense to how the district is treating us. We're just as valuable to the education of their children as the teachers," he said.
The District is looking to offer health benefits only to employees that work at least 35 hours a week on a regular basis. The current contract with CSEA provides full active and retirement benefits to employees that work a minimum of 20 hours a week. It is also offering to "substantially increase" the starting and average hourly wage paid to school bus drivers and school bus attendants, and an enhanced perfect attendance incentive. It is also offering a higher wage and would continue to pay into the New York State Employee Retirement System in exchange for the premiums.
"The District recognizes and appreciates the years of service many drivers have given," Dominick said. "[We have] offered to grandfather drivers that have either vested or will soon vest in the retirement health insurance benefit per the current contract."