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August 28, 2014


District settles contract with support staff union, avoids litigation over outsourcing


The district and the Niskayuna School District Employees Association have reached an agreement that settles a contract that lapsed two years ago and will allow the district to avoid pending litigation over the district's subcontracting for bus drivers.

The 150-member Niskayuna School District Employees Association (NSDEA) is comprised of employees such as custodians, grounds workers, mechanics, bus drivers, and food service workers. The previous contract expired on June 30, 2012, and this agreement covers the five-year period from July 1, 2013 to the end of the 2017-18 school year.

The unit's membership voted in favor of the agreement on Wednesday afternoon, August 27. It was subsequently ratified at a special meeting of the Board of Education Thursday morning.

The agreement does not include pay increases for the first two years (2012-13 and 2013-14). However, it does call for a one-time payment of $350 for the unit's 10-month employees and $750 for year-round employees. The new contract includes a 1.5 percent increase for unit members for each of the final three years.

Under the agreement, the district will begin phasing former bus drivers back into employment following last year's decision to subcontract, and the unit will withdraw a pending charge against the district that is before the state's Public Employment Relation Board.

Subcontracting for drivers resulted in estimated savings of more than $200,000 for the district. A revised bus driver salary schedule included in the new agreement means that the district will retain a significant portion of these savings as it phases drivers back into employment over a period of years.

In the current year, the district will restore employment to up to six drivers, in order of seniority, who were laid off when the district contracted with First Student Inc. as a cost-saving measure last year. Beginning next year, the agreement calls for the district to restore employment to 12 drivers each year until all of those who were laid off have been offered a position with the district.

The phase-in approach was crafted to help avoid both the expense and divisiveness of a hearing before the Public Employee Relations Board and possible subsequent litigation.

"We were looking for a ‘win-win' situation and not ‘win-lose,' and I believe we have found it," Interim Superintendent John Yagielski said. "This unique agreement provides both sides with much greater stability and certainty. It allows us to avoid potentially significant expenses associated with litigation. Importantly, it means that we are moving forward in partnership with a valued group of employees on our top priority – serving our students and families."

"Given the circumstances, I believe this is the best possible deal for our district, our students and families, and our taxpayers," Yagielski added