Elmbrook, custodians agree on new contract

Sept. 15, 2010

It wouldn't be an understatement to say Elmbrook officials and the School Board were pleased with the contract agreement they reached with the district's custodial union.

And it wouldn't be too far out of line to say some School Board members wish the district's other bargaining groups - like, say, the teachers union - acted the same way in their contract negotiations.

"I am going to suggest that (the custodial union) set quite an example, and I appreciate it," Board President Tom Gehl said after the board unanimously approved the contract Tuesday night.


Under the three-year contract, which runs through 2013, members of Local 1163 Custodial and Maintenance Employees will receive an average annual wage increase of 2 percent, with an overall annual package increase of 2.83 percent.

The contract also increases the amount employees pay toward their health and dental coverage. Under the previous agreement, union members paid 3 percent toward their health premium and 4 percent toward their dental premium.

Under the new contract, employees will pay 6 percent of their health and dental premiums by July 1, 2012, but those numbers will be significantly higher (11 percent) for employees who do not participate in the district's voluntary wellness program.

The union ratified the contract Sunday.


And the move could make things cheaper for groups that rent out the district's facilities on weekends, too.

As part of the contract, the district can now employ non-union workers for custodial work on Saturdays and Sundays, meaning the district won't have to pay overtime to those workers. And that means the district could lower its weekend rental rate for outside groups, board member Meg Wartman said.

Wartman said she thinks the contract is "reflective of the (financial) realities we have" in the district.

Hedstrom agreed, saying the new agreement shows the union is "in touch with the realities that all School Districts are facing in Wisconsin."


The good feelings don't stretch to the district's negotiations with the teachers union, however. Union officials in July announced plans to seek arbitration after the two sides could not reach an agreement on the 2009-11 contract.

The main points of contention are the first-year pay increase, contribution to health insurance premiums and how a planned move to a block schedule will affect high-school teachers.

Elmbrook has offered a 3.56 percent increase in salaries and benefits over the two years of the contract, as well as $50,000 to be divided equally among high school teachers for professional development related to block scheduling.

The teachers union is asking for a 3.91 percent package increase over the life of the contract, no block schedule bonus and a 1.5 percent salary increase on the last day of the contract.


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