Haste Makes Waste: Timeline

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Sept. 19, 2007 – Bus drivers vote 113-11 to be represented by the Central Dauphin Bus Drivers Association.

Oct. 1, 2007 – Union is certified by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

Early 2008 – Negotiations begin for a new contract

July 14, 2008 – School board announces plan to form a finance committee. Meetings start soon thereafter.

Sept. 8, 2008 – Union and the CD school district sign a new three-year contract that expires on June 30, 2011.

Jan. 12 2009 – CDBDA files an unfair labor practice charge, later amended, against the district. In the claim, the union says that almost immediately after the signing of the three-year contract, the management of the transportation department, with consent of human resources department, “engaged in a program of discrimination, intimidation and retaliation toward the association in general and the officers of the association in particular.” In the filing, it says “it appears that the school district would like to outsource the transportation department. To that end, the school district, through the transportation and human resources departments, in addition to a blatant disregard for the terms of the contract, engages in daily bullying of the drivers.”

January to June 2009 – CD district contacts representatives from Rohrer Bus Service, First Student and Student Transportation of America to discuss outsourcing, according to testimony of Karen McConnell, business manager, at an unfair labor practice hearing. During this time frame, there is no discussion with association about privatizing the transportation system, McConnell says.

Feb. 9, 2009 – Board president Kathy Stone announces at board meeting that finance committee will become a committee of the whole with meetings publicized.

May 2009 – Discussions about outsourcing become very serious, although they are done in private. Billing records for Rhoads & Sinon LLP, the district’s solicitor, show research on transportation department privatization began around May 21.

June 2009 – Bus drivers receive letters from school district asking them if they intend to return to work for the next school year.

June 8, 2009 – School board gives the go-ahead for placing an ad seeking requests for proposals (RFPs) for outsourcing services, according to McConnell’s testimony.

June 11, 2009 – School district tries to contact Donna Ricupero, union president, to advise her of the planned RFP. Ricupero is on vacation in New Jersey (school ended a week earlier) and cannot attend a meeting district would like to hold on June 12.

June 13, 2009 – RFP is advertised in local newspaper.

June 18, 2009 – Union meets with school district and is provided with a draft copy of the RFP.

June 24, 2009 – District holds a walk-through with prospective bidders. Union members are in attendance. Four companies participate in the walk-through.

June 25, 2009 – Union and district meet again for negotiations.

July 1, 2009 – Bids are received from three of the bidders that participated in the June 24 walk-through.

July 24, 2009 – Union and district hold another negotiations session.

July 30, 2009 – Union and district meet again. As at the previous session, the union complains about receiving inaccurate and incomplete information regarding union members’ pay data, length of service and benefits. Union said solicitor James Ellison indicated at meeting that there was an impasse. Ellison denies this. “I don’t know where that came from,” he says at unfair labor practice hearing.

Aug. 4, 2009 – Union files unfair labor practice charge, saying district has not provided information that is accurate and complete to enable it to bargain. Union also says it has advised school district it is available for bargaining on Aug 11, 12, and 14.

Aug. 6, 2009 – Ellison advises union that there is an impasse

Aug. 10, 2009 – Union files a request for mediation under Act 88, saying such service is required by law before any privatization decision can be made.

Aug. 10, 2009 – The school board meets and decides in a 5-1 vote, with three members absent, to accept the proposal from Durham School Services of Downers Grove, Ill., for bus transportation services for five years.

Aug. 11, 2009 – District turns over to Durham personnel information such as names, addresses and phone numbers of bus drivers, even though district has not entered into a contract with Durham. Union files an amended unfair labor practice charge against district, saying district did not exhaust impasse resolution procedures before deciding to privatize its bus transportation services. It asks that the privatization decision be rescinded.

Aug. 12, 2009 – Durham and school district officials hold a meeting with bus drivers on school property, advising them – according to testimony from union representatives at the unfair labor practice hearing – that they will be furloughed on Aug. 23 and become Durham employees on Aug. 24. District also sends out a letter to eight bus mechanics represented by AFSCME Council 90 that they will be furloughed effective Aug. 21.

Aug. 13-14, 2009 – Procedures begin to process bus drivers as Durham employees. Procedures include drug testing, fingerprinting and physicals.

Aug. 14, 2009 – School district requests mediation under Act 195.

Aug. 19, 2009 – Bus drivers are informed that they are still employees of the school district. Mechanics receive letter from district that the previous furlough date was “incorrectly stated.” No contract has been signed with Durham. Around this time, district residents start receiving a mailing from the district about the partnership with Durham.

Aug. 27, 2009 – Unfair labor practice hearing begins.

Aug. 31, 2009- School year begins. Union files a second amended unfair labor practice charge.

Sept. 1, 2009 – Second day of unfair labor practice hearing.

Sept. 25, 2009 – Union and school district begin a mediation hearing. Five sessions are to be held.

Oct. 14, 2009 – Central Dauphin School District files a lawsuit against the Central Dauphin Bus Drivers Association, asking Dauphin County Court to declare that Act 88 does not apply in the dispute regarding bargaining timelines and impasse procedures.

Oct. 15, 2009 – Eric Epstein, business agent for the bus drivers union, receives a call from state Bureau of Mediation saying the district wants to declare an impasse even though there have been no joint mediation sessions. Two mediation sessions had been held with the parties meeting in separate rooms.

Oct. 20, 2009 – Union is served with the lawsuit that the district filed six days earlier.

Oct. 21, 2009 – District signs outsourcing contract with Durham. No announcement is made until the school board meeting on Oct. 26.

Oct. 23, 2009 – Union hears rumor that contract with Durham has been signed. Union’s lawyer asks district solicitor for verification or denial, and receives no response.

Oct. 26, 2009 – District admits it has signed a contract with Durham, effective Nov. 9.

Oct. 30, 2009 – District sends out letter to bus drivers telling them they will be furloughed effective Nov. 9. Furloughs are “purely for economic reasons,” the letter states. Drivers are advised they are eligible for continuation of benefits through COBRA, but they will have to pay the full COBRA premium beginning in January. They also are advised to contact human resources office if they are contemplating retirement.

Also this day, bus drivers union filed an additional unfair labor practice charge relating to the furloughs and refusal of school district to bargain in good faith. Union also requests appointment of fact finder under Act 88.

Nov. 2, 2009- Union files a lawsuit in Dauphin County Court requesting an injunction to prevent the start-up of the Durham contract on Nov. 9.

Nov. 5, 2009 – Dauphin County President Judge Richard A. Lewis issues a preliminary injunction restraining Central Dauphin from implementing its outsourcing agreement with Durham on Nov. 9. He also enjoins any sale of the school buses, although attorneys for CD said in court filing that the buses have already been sold. Lewis schedules a hearing for Nov. 10 on the district’s request for a declaratory judgment that state Act 88 does not apply to the bus drivers dispute.

Nov. 18, 2009 – Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board appoints a fact finder in the CD/bus drivers dispute.

Nov. 20, 2009 – Judge Lewis issues a ruling denying CD’s request for a declaratory judgment that Act 88 does not apply in the dispute. CD later appeals the ruling.

Dec. 15, 2009 – The bus drivers association’s attorney is advised by the CD superintendent of its new policy to deny drivers representation while they are being investigated. The policy is contrary to provisions in drivers’ contract.

Dec. 28, 2009 – Fact finder Robert C. Gifford issues his report with two recommendations to resolve the dispute between the district and the union.

Dec. 29, 2009 – School board meets at 7 a.m. with five members present and votes 5-0 to reject the fact finder’s report.

Dec. 31, 2009 – Union members accept one of the options suggested by the fact finder. This option would require the district to receive proposals from the union that would allow the district to rescind its decision to outsource its transportation services during the duration of the collective bargaining agreement through a revised agreement that would either defer or modify compensation and benefits as currently provided.

Jan. 29, 2010 – CD signs an agreement with Durham for the leasing of 150 buses from Durham, at a total cost of $395,655 through June 30, 2010. District must pay Durham $79,131 a month on Feb. 1, March 1, April 1, May 1 and June 1.

Feb. 2, 2010 – A hearing examiner for the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board finds that the Williamsport Area School District committed an unfair labor practice when it decided to outsource its bus transportation services. Williamsport’s contract with its bus drivers had expired in the summer of 2008, and the school board decided in June 2009 to outsource at the start of the 2009-10 school year. (Other details regarding Williamsport are found on rockthecapital.org, a report on “Haste Makes Waste: The Central Dauphin School Board’s decision to privatize its bus transportation service and the flawed process to save money.”)

March 5, 2010 – CDBDA files a harassment complaint under district policy covering events from April 15, 2009, to Feb. 8, 2010. The complaint alleges that bus drivers are being denied due process, runs are being shortened or eliminated to cut accessibility to health benefits (by cutting hours worked), and members of the association are targeted for discrimination and termination.

March 9, 2010 – CDBDA files an unfair labor practice complaint against the district over allegations that the district has not provided necessary information for bargaining purposes and has refused to meet with association representative (business agent Eric Epstein) as chosen by the association

Late March, early April 2010 – Bus drivers receive information from Durham regarding 401(k), even though they remain employees of school district with no apparent change in sight.

April 7, 2010 – At an unfair labor practice hearing, district admits it cashed the $2.26 million check from Durham for its bus stock. Until then, it was generally believed the district had placed the money in escrow due to restrictions in Judge Lewis’ injunction that was issued in November. One of the conditions of the injunction was that the buses not be sold. Buses were actually turned over to Durham in late October.

April 12, 2010 – At regular board meeting, CD board issues statement that faults the bus drivers for failing to resolve the dispute and help the district save money with its outsourcing decision.

April 26, 2010 – CD School Board selects Shaffer and Engle Law Office LLC as its new solicitor, replacing the firm of Rhoads and Sinon LLC.

May 18, 2010 – In a 23-page ruling, with no dissent, a panel of the Commonwealth Court upholds Judge Richard A. Lewis’ Nov. 20 ruling that Act 88 governs the school district’s dispute with its school bus drivers.

June.16, 2010 – In an article published in The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, board president Ford Thompson said the district will not appeal the Commonwealth Court ruling.

July 1, 2010 – Revised rental fees kick in for Durham. District now pays Durham approximately $49,000 a month for rental of the bus fleet.

July 1, 2010 – In a response to right to know request, CD School District provides information on the updated costs paid to Rhoads and Sinon LLC for its legal work on bus outsourcing. Legal fees from May 2009 to May 2010 (when Rhoads and Sinon was replaced as board solicitor) are $279,922.50.

July 13, 2010 – Bus drivers association and school district announce they will pursue mediation to explore a possible settlement of the ongoing dispute. Because of this, both sides are temporarily halting all legal proceedings until mid-August. District says it hopes to reach a settlement before the start of the school year for students on Aug. 30.

Aug. 26, 2010 – CD School Board unanimously approves a settlement agreement with the bus drivers association. Earlier in day, bus drivers approved settlement agreements with the district and Durham. Details are not released.

Aug. 27, 2010 – In joint announcement, CD School District and bus drivers association announce details of settlement. As part of settlement, the bargaining agreement between CD and bus drivers will end on Oct. 31, 2010, and Durham will take over bus transportation services on Nov. 1, 2010. At that time, drivers will become Durham employees.

Other terms:

CD will pay health care for employees until Oct. 31, 2010, and will cover COBRA payments through June 30, 2011. Drivers will have option to choose COBRA for an additional 10 months after this period.

Durham agrees to waive the 90-day probationary period, and drivers will be immediately eligible to receive holiday pay for Thanksgiving on Nov. 25 and 26, 2010. They will be entitled to holiday pay for Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day as well.

Six drivers with 4.08 to 4.5 years of service will be allowed to vest as district employees. After they are vested, they will become Durham employees.

Raises effective on July 1, 2010, will remain in effect and Durham will provide a wage increase for the 2011-12 school year.

Finally, the union and district agree to end all unfair labor practice charges, grievances and all court actions between the parties.

Aug. 30, 2010 – School year begins for students.

Sept. 13, 2010 – School board approves a new agreement with Durham covering a period from Nov. 1, 2010, to June 30, 2012. Agreement allows Durham to notify CD by Dec. 31, 2011, whether it wants to renew the contract for an additional three years.

Oct. 25, 2010 – Eric Epstein, business agent for bus drivers association, speaks at school board meeting, informing members that some current drivers may not be hired by Durham but others that have been dismissed by the district for “inappropriate behavior” are being considered for employment.

Oct. 29, 2010 – Drivers, school district and Durham resolve remaining issues, including the hiring of drivers who fell short in Durham’s so-called personality test. Durham ends up hiring 99 of 100 drivers who applied for jobs.

Nov. 1, 2010 – Durham begins implementing contract as Central Dauphin’s school bus provider.

Jan. 24, 2011 – Central Dauphin School Board approves a settlement agreement with the mechanics for the transportation department. The agreement will allow the six mechanics to remain district employees until the end of their AFSCME contract on June 30, 2012. One of those mechanics can remain a district employee until his 24th anniversary of employment on Nov. 9, 2012, at which time he is to retire.


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- who has written 5 posts for Rock The Capital
Tom Dochat was a newspaper reporter for more than 32 years, with most of that time at the Harrisburg Patriot-News. He received or shared journalistic awards for his work on the hostile takeover attempt of AMP Inc. in 1998, the manufacturing restructuring plan at The Hershey Co. in 2007, and the botched retrofit project at the Harrisburg incinerator. - Email tdochat

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