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    Westerly school bus drivers, district ratify new contract

    WESTERLY — School bus drivers and aides will get pay raises over the next three years, under a newly-approved contract that lasts into 2016.

    The School Committee and Local 808 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America have been negotiating since before June 2013, and talks were concluded when union members ratified the deal earlier this month.

    School Committee members unanimously ratified the contract last week. The previous contract ended June 30, 2013.

    “I feel happy the school committee and the transportation employee staff were able to ratify the contract,” Peter Denomme, the director of transportation for Westerly Public Schools, said.

    “This shows both the employees and Westerly school committee have the same overall goals and expectations in mind particularly when it comes to the safe transportation of students to and from school each and every day.”

    The 34 drivers and nine bus aides covered under the agreement will not receive a pay increase this year, but will get a 1.5 percent increase in 2014-15 and 1.75 percent increase in 2015-16 that totals a 3.25 percent increase over the three-year contract period.

    Wages are based on years of service, according to the final year of the previous contract when a first-year driver was making $15.62 an hour and a driver with 15-plus years was making $18.60 an hour.

    Although the new contract has been ratified by both parties, it has not yet been signed. It will not be available as a public document until both parties sign it, according to the superintendent’s office.

    “We believe we have a good resolution to the contract,” Superintendent of Schools Roy Seitsinger Jr. said.

    Under the contract, employees will pay 20 percent of their annual health insurance premiums — the same percentage they paid in 2012-13. The contract includes a wellness benefit for voluntary participants. Annual pension contributions will be shared with employees.

    “They all put in some long and hard hours in the final touches of the negotiations to [ensure] a fair and equitable union contract was being offered to the union membership,” said Denomme of school administration and Local 808 union representatives.

    alemoine@thewesterlysun.com



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