JCPS support staff to rally for increased wages - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS support staff to rally for increased wages

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Some of the lowest-paid employees of Jefferson County Public Schools will rally before Monday's school board meeting and ask the board to honor a clause in their contract that discusses potential wage increases.

"Every year in June, the support staff and the district are supposed to sit down and talk about wages -- and this is the second year in a row where they have refused to sit down with us," said Carli Stevenson, communications coordinator for the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. 

The rally will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Van Hoose Education Center, 3332 Newburg Road. The school board meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Stevenson said members of the AFSCME Local 962 include instructional aids, lunchroom assistants, school secretaries and bus monitors.

"The starting wage for many of these workers is around $13 an hour and there are very few options for these employees to work year-round," Stevenson said. "If school is not in session, they are not getting paid. We have some very loyal employees who have been working for JCPS for 20 years and they are only making $23,000 a year."

As a result, Stevenson said turnover is high and it is students who suffer the real consequences.

"Rather than creating stability for kids so they can see the same faces in the classroom, cafeteria, and bus year after year, JCPS is trying to balance its budget on the backs of low-paid support staff," a press release about Monday's rally reads.

Stevenson said instructional aides provide one-on-one help to students in the classroom, while bus monitors keep the peace and ensure kids are safe on the ride to and from school and lunchroom assistants nourish students so they are ready to learn. 

All JCPS employees will receive a 2 percent raise this year that is mandated by the state. The AFSCME Local 962 is asking the district to "honor the provision in the support staff contract that calls for a wage re-opener in June."

Mike Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS, told WDRB News on Monday that the district has met with the leadership of AFSCME "numerous times."

"The AFSCME leadership tried to negotiate items that were non-negotiable last summer by unilaterally raising their members’ dues during our wage re-opener," Raisor wrote in a July 20 email to board members about the conflict. "It was not the pleasure of this office, the superintendent, or the board to be inclined to take part in this non-democratic horse trading."

Raisor said at that point, AFSCME leadership "basically tried to hold negotiations hostage."

"AFSCME leadership then denied that dues were cause of the impasse, although our office has written documentation of such," Raisor explains. "We attempted to negotiate several more time, but with no success, we implemented our last, best and final offer – the same compensation package agreed to by all other classified unions."

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