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Mishawaka School Employees Lose Collective Bargaining Rights

Non-teacher employees in the Mishawaka school district will lost collective bargaining rights when their current contract ends Dec. 31.

Abhi Sharma / Flickr

Non-teacher employees in the Mishawaka school district will lost collective bargaining rights when their current contract ends Dec. 31.

The Mishawaka School Board voted to terminate collective bargaining rights for school employees like custodians, bus drivers and food service workers starting Jan. 1.

This decision stems from the employees’ choice to not renew a contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees labor union, which ends Dec. 31.

The South Bend Tribute writes more about the issue:

[…] AFSCME’s bylaws prohibit members from contracting with another union under the AFLCIO umbrella for a year after disassociating with it, Steve Bolin the former union president said. Bolin contacted the Indiana State Teachers Association, which is not under the AFLCIO umbrella, and asked a representative to talk with the 3060 group, which represents 59 of the eligible 114 members.

Last month, Bolin said, the group voted in favor of associating with the teachers’ union beginning in 2015.

Then, “all hell broke loose,” Bolin said. “AFSCME has gone crazy on the (school) corporation, relieved me of my duties and taken over all of my duties.”

Carli Stevenson, a spokeswoman for AFSCME in Indiana, said Local 3060 has been placed under “administratorship,” because AFSCME officials felt Bolin was not doing his job as president.

The South Bend Tribune also spoke with Mishawaka Superintendent Terry Barker, who said Indiana law requires school corporations to collectively bargain only with teachers:

It’s not appropriate, Barker said, for the district to be placed in the middle of a dispute between two labor unions. And, he said, obligating employees to be represented by a union they’ve lost confidence in doesn’t make sense.

So, he recommended the board approve a resolution saying it no longer will recognize – after the current contract expires at the end of this year – AFSCME, or any other similar organization, including the ISTA, as the exclusive representative for non-certified employee groups.

Board member Larry Stillson asked Barker to confirm, which he did, that passage of the resolution would not prohibit district officials from continuing to have conversations about wages and benefits with staff members in the affected work groups.

“I do want to make sure that there is that commitment,” Stillson said, “and this doesn’t disrupt our working relationship with any group.”

It is unclear what will happen next, but Bolin says he and other employees are pursuing other options.

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