After months of discussion and opposition from support staff employees, the school district and QESPA (Quakertown Educational Support Personnel Association) announced Thursday they have reached a mutual agreement in favor of subcontracting the district’s food service department.
The agreement will see food service workers rehired by Chartwells, a dining services company based in Charlotte, N.C. Chartwells is a subsidiary of Compass Group North America.
Staff will receive a 10-13 percent pay cut, depending on their job title, school board President Bob Smith announced at the school board meeting. The contract period will last two years with no wage increases during the time frame of the agreement, Smith explained.
The agreement will go into effect July 1, 2013, Smith said, adding, “I’d like to thank all who were involved. It’s not the ideal situation for anyone but it is something that happens in today’s environment.”
Business Administrator Bob Riegel informed the board there will be a guaranteed profit of approximately $105,000 with the decision to subcontract. This will affect 35 food service workers.
Prior to school board members voting on the agreement, Scott Hendricks, head custodian at Richland Elementary and president of QESPA, approached the podium to offer his thoughts by stating, “I’d like to thank the food service workers and the public at large for their support. We worked very hard on the settlement and it wasn’t easy for us (QESPA), for them (employees), or you, I guess.”
School board member Dwight Anderson paused when asked for his vote on the agreement, remarking on his apprehension but reluctantly voted in favor of the subcontracting plan.
Several members of the audience left abruptly after the unanimous vote was received, visibly crying. One unidentified woman shouted, “Shame on you!” as she exited the room.
While there was no further comment on the outsourcing, Smith added, “We are trying to do what’s best for the community, students, and everyone.”
The topic of teacher contracts was discussed briefly with a unanimous decision to award increases over the next three years. Teaching staff will see a 1 percent pay increase in the first year, 1.5 percent in the second year, and 1.5 percent in the third year of their contracts.
A press release provided after the meeting stated, “The agreement meets board goals to keep costs within the Act 1 index in each year of the agreement and to constrain salaries and benefit costs.”
The benefits utilized will remain with Bucks Montgomery County Health Consortium and will not use the highest cost plan.