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School union ratifies contract

The Public School Employees Union overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the Oak Harbor School District Tuesday evening.

Of the 153 people who voted, 87 percent approved the contract. The two sides reached a tentative agreement early in the morning on Feb. 25, after a nine-and-a-half hour negotiating session.

The contract approval ends nearly one year of negotiations between the school district and union.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to get it resolved at the negotiating table,” said Superintendent Rick Schulte.

The union and school district have been negotiating a new contract since April 2004. Negotiations stalled in early January and union membership approved a pre-strike resolution in mid-January setting a March 1 deadline for an agreement to be reached.

The new contract increases by $429,000 over the course of three years. Union employees are also receiving an additional state-funded, 1 percent pay raise. Any additional state funded raise will also be worked into the union contract.

The agreement also adds in an additional $5 per month that goes toward health insurance. That amount bumps up to $10 in the third year of the contract.

In reaching an agreement, the school district dropped its proposal requiring employees to remain at a position for a minimum of six months before being allowed to transfer positions.

The new, three-year contract will be back-dated to Sept. 2004 when the union’s previous contract expired.

The 282-member PSE Union represents a variety of employees including bus drivers, maintenance positions, office staff and instructional assistants.

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