Home Minnesota Educator East Grand Forks transportation staff get needed support in latest contract

East Grand Forks transportation staff get needed support in latest contract

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The members of the Education Minnesota: East Grand Forks Education Support Professionals who work as bus drivers for the school district were able to secure large salary increases in their latest contract to help support their current and future employees.

The union’s priorities going into bargaining were to address the needs of all drivers in order to retain their staff.

“When we bargain, our testimony and passion come from the drivers. We want to relay the benefits of both sides of the table,” said Bryan Olson, the local union president and a member of the bargaining team.

Olson said before negotiations, the team went around and listened to the members on what to bring to the table. The union has 11 members, and Olson said they work collaboratively to bring issues to the table the membership wants to see addressed.

Thankfully, Olson said, the district was eager to address the issues of the drivers.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I thought the tone was a spirit of cooperation to meet all the transportation needs. That was really positive.”

The union settled a contract that met a lot of the needs of their members.

Included in the contract is:

  • A 17% wage increase over the two-year contract.
  • A 10% increase for members’ HRAs.
  • A 60% increase in weekly bonuses.
  • Starting the 403(b) match after year one of employment.
  • A 33% increase in wages for weekend activity trips.
  • A $500 bonus for recruiting new drivers.
  • Restructured longevity pay to get long-time drivers paid sooner.

Members were very happy with the contract.

“They were more eager to step in and help out with shortages, take trips they normally wouldn’t take, and were very excited to feel respected for the services they provide,” said Olson.

Olson said he has also seen morale and the feeling of respect from their employer increase.

“Dignity was restored, and we felt more a part of the system,” he said.

The Grand Forks ESPs not only feel good about their current contract, but found some lessons they will take into future bargaining rounds.

“We’re going to stay positive, keep an open mind and rely on Education Minnesota to help us get the wins we need,” Olson said. “Your issues need solutions that give benefits to both sides. Use your field staff for getting all the right information to be successful.”

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