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Manatee County union representing school employees reaches agreement with top officials

BRADENTON -- One Manatee County union representing school employees has reached an agreement with district officials over the 2011-12 contract.

School board members unanimously approved the 2011-12 contract between the district and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees on Tuesday.

“We are very pleased this is something that has happened -- particularly in this environment,” board Chairman Harry Kinnan said.

Fellow school board members agreed they were pleased an agreement had been reached with at least one of the unions representing school employees. The district halted contract talks with the teachers union known as the Manatee Education Association in early October. Now the two groups await a hearing before a special magistrate Dec. 7. Special Magistrate Robert Hoffman will be hearing from the district and MEA officials.

American Federation union President Bruce Mohr believed his group was going to meet the same fate regarding 2011-12 contracts. Then, at the last minute, Mohr said, the group that represents food service, transportation, custodial, maintenance workers and others decided it had received “the best we were going to get” from the district.

Two-thirds of the group ratified the contract although they weren’t pleased with the agreement, Mohr said. They haven’t received a pay increase in years, Mohr said. Plus, their salary is going to be cut because of furlough days.

“Nobody really likes to take a pay cut,” Mohr said. “People are hurting.”

No other details of the contract were immediately available.