BIG Win for Nashua Custodians!

BIG Win for Nashua Custodians!

Nashua – Almost one year ago the Nashua Board of Education voted to explore the option of privatization of 101 union custodian positions in the district. The Board of Education cited the need to save funds in the district’s operating budget. But to many in the community, this move was simply another attack on New Hampshire workers and organized labor. 

In December of 2015, AFSCME Council 93, the union representing Nashua’s custodians, filed an unfair labor complaint with the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB), asserting that the school district was only bargaining with a portion of the union.

Although the school district continually defended its actions and denied any violation of its bargaining obligations, the PELRB disagreed. Yesterday’s decision by the PELRB stated that the school district had, in fact, committed an unfair labor practice. The Public Employee Labor Relations Board also found that the school district had deprived employees of their right to participate in the collective bargaining process through the duly certified bargaining unit.

As a result, the PELRB ordered the school district to “immediately commence bargaining with the union as to all bargaining unit positions.” This result can be attributed to the persistent and unwavering efforts of the Nashua custodians, AFSCME Council 93, and numerous labor allies in the surrounding community that stood in Solidarity with the 101 Nashua custodians. Many members of the labor community protested at Nashua School Board meetings in the rain, sleet, snow, and sun to show that the Nashua community was behind the custodial staff and that New Hampshire workers deserve to be treated fairly.

On behalf of the labor community, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO would like to thank all of those individuals and their families for standing strong throughout this battle. The Nashua custodians are an integral part of the Nashua school district. They have ties to students, their families, and the teachers throughout Nashua that could not be replicated by a private company shipping in workers from outside of the Nashua community. We are proud of the efforts of all that were involved in achieving this outcome, and look forward to the fair treatment of the Nashua custodians in the coming bargaining process.

This success shows what is possible when the New Hampshire labor community stands together. There will be more fights like this one, and it is important to remember what we can achieve with Solidarity. Congatulations!

The full PELRB decision can be found online by clicking here

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Nashua Custodians Still Fighting for Contract Fairness

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Yesterday members of the Nashua School Custodian Union stood outside, in the rain to advocate for fair contract practices. Late in 2015, the Nashua Board of Education voted to terminate the contract with the custodial union, Local 365/Council 93 AFSCME, and to issue a request for proposals for a private cleaning service to replace the custodians in the district as of July 1, 2016.

The members of the Nashua School Custodian Union are more than just custodians, they are friends to the students and the staff throughout the school district. They take pride in their work, and the role they have taken in the development of our children’s education. 

By voting to replace the members of the Nashua School Custodians union with a private cleaning service, the Board of Education has done a disservice to the children and the teachers of Nashua. The Board of Education seeks to bring in strangers who have no connection with Nashua, or loyalty to its residents. When profit is the main driver for performance, there is less incentive to do a good job, and more incentive to simply do the job.

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO praises the members of Local 365/Council 93 AFSCME who stood in the rain yesterday to have their voices heard and strongly believes that Nashua schools deserve the kind of dedication that these members have to their community.  

This struggle is not over yet. Remember, you support your community by supporting your Nashua School Custodians. 

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Nashua Custodians File Suit Against City For Unfair Labor Practices

Source: Nashua Telegraph: Click Here for Link to Nashua Telegraph Article 

By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI
Staff Writer

NASHUA – The union representing 101 school custodians whose jobs are on the line once their contract expires June 30 have filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state labor board, charging the Nashua School District with violating their collective bargaining agreement and state labor laws.

The complaint came in response to the Board of Education’s vote last fall to not renew the custodians’ contract and instead hire a private cleaning company as a possible cost-saving measure during tight budgetary times.

The school board is nearing the end of the lengthy process as members plan to review a cost analysis of the bids received from four private cleaning companies at the board’s Feb. 29 meeting.

But even if one of the bids came in favorably, the board likely would not move forward with hiring an outside company until the state labor board issues its ruling. That’s because a finding against the school district could result in the district employing two labor forces to clean city schools – the existing custodial union and the private company.

AFSCME Council 93, Local 365 filed its unfair labor practice complaint with the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Dec. 30. The union represents the 101 school custodians, as well as school maintenance employees.

The union accuses the school district of “restraining, coercing or otherwise interfering” with its employees’ collective bargaining rights, in part by refusing to bargain in good faith with all members of the union.

The union asked the labor board to find the school district guilty of improper labor practices and to “cease and desist dominating and interfering with the employee organization.”

Asked whether school board members are concerned about hiring a private cleaning company, given that the labor board could require the district to resume contract negotiations with the custodians, board member George Farrington said, “This is something we have to consider.

“We have to get some legal advice. We want to do this right. We don’t want to make any mistakes in any number of the areas that we are dealing with,” Farrington said. He would not elaborate.

The school district denied that it “violated its bargaining obligations or any contractual provisions,” according to a labor board memorandum.

“We think that we both legally and contractually are entitled to proceed in the way we have proceeded,” attorney Thomas Closson said Thursday. Closson represents the school district.

The school board voted last Sept. 16 to not renew its collective bargaining agreement with the 101 custodians in an effort to achieve “substantial savings to the district’s operating budget.”

The district agreed to negotiate a renewed contract with those members of Local 365 who are not custodians.

AFSCME Council 93 coordinator Steve Lyons said the school district is trying to bargain with only a portion of the labor unit, in violation of the state’s public employee labor law.

“In addition, there is an evergreen clause that requires them (the school district) to maintain the terms and agreements for our unit,” Lyons said.

An evergreen clause means the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement remain in effect – even if the contract has expired – until a new agreement is reached.

Closson, in his response to the complaint with the state labor board, said the school district could not in good faith negotiate with the custodians after telling them that it intended to privatize their work.

“Given its decision to pursue the privatization of custodial services at the expiration of the current (collective bargaining agreement), it would be an unfair labor practice for the school district to commence and to engage in negotiations with the union as it relates to those same custodial services,” Closson wrote.

The union and school district agreed to present their arguments to the Public Employee Labor Relations Board through pleadings and exhibits next month.

Four private companies responded to the school district’s request for bids. Bids came in as follows for one year of cleaning service: ABM Janitorial Services, $5.6 million; Temco Facility Services, $3.4 million; GCA Education Services, $2.9 million; and S.J. Services Inc., $2.7 million.

A cost analysis is expected to be presented to the school board at its Feb. 29 meeting.

“It’s about comparing how much it would cost under one of these contracts against what it costs us now – if there is a savings to be realized and how much,” Farrington said.

He noted that the school board from the beginning “reserved the right not to enter into an agreement” with any private vendor. Board members may feel that going that route would not be worthwhile if the savings are not substantial, he said.

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