An arbitration hearing scheduled for Feb. 25 between the Moon Area School District and its support staff union is still slated to take place, union officials said.
Union President Blaine Hess, a custodian for the school district, said the union is "disappointed" by a measure approved by school board members Monday that amended the district's service agreement with contracting firm Global Management Solutions.
The school district has filled vacated custodial positions with workers hired through Global Management, a firm that specializes in providing cleaning, maintenance, and facility management employees on a contract basis.
Earlier this week, board members approved a motion to hire Global Management workers on a case-by-case basis, deciding between bargaining members and contracted workers for individual hires, board president Sandra McCurdy said Monday.
Hess said union members hoped the board would end it's contract with the Ellwood City firm at the meeting. He said the union prepared an offer that would delegate a larger workload to union members, off-setting the cost-savings associated with hiring contract workers.
The offer was presented to district administrators three weeks ago, Hess said.
"I had an offer that, from the union's standpoint, would have avoided the arbitration, and it meant taking on extra work for our members," he said.
Hess said the union plans to contest the district's use of contracted workers; four such employees are now working in the district. In addition, it will voice objection to a series of furloughs and reduced hours approved by the board in 2012, he said.
"The starting wage at Global Management is $12.50 an hour, no benefits," Hess said. "When you pay substandard wages, you get substandard workers. These are people Global Management hires off of Craigslist."
Members of the school board and district administration could not be reached for comment on the matter.
He said day-shift positions long-sought after by existing union members have instead been given to contract workers, leading to "tension" among support staff members and contract employees.
The school district entered into an agreement with Global Management Solutions in June 2011, as a cost-savings measure for the district.
Hess said school officials and union members have held several meetings to discuss the impasse, but the parties have failed to reach an accord on the issue.
"It's very frustrating because we had what we thought was a solution," Hess said.