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School food workers seek 7% raises, more fans Pay is now $6.36 to $8.87 an hour


Food service workers in Carroll schools are asking for a 7 percent raise and more fans in school kitchens.

They made the request yesterday during their first meeting to negotiate a new contract with the Board of Education.

This is the second of five employee groups with which the board must bargain.

The board has made no salary offers, although it has made other proposals.

Board officials have said they could make an offer later this week or next week, in individual meetings with the five bargaining groups.

About one-third of Carroll County's 34 school buildings don't have efficient fans to cool kitchens, which get very hot in the late spring, said Jo Nusbaum.

She is the chief negotiator for the food service workers and manager of the Sykesville Middle School cafeteria.

Food service workers make $6.36 to $8.87 an hour, and generally work an average of 20 hours a week during the school year.

In addition to seeking a 7 percent increase, the workers are asking to keep the existing 10 steps in the salary schedule and add two more steps so that workers have more room to advance.

Mrs. Nusbaum said it used to be that workers could look forward to becoming managers within 10 years, but fewer of the senior workers are getting those jobs.

"Your older people are not getting manager jobs, so they deserve more steps," Mrs. Nusbaum said.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, which represents school custodians and maintenance staff, opened its contract talks last week and asked for a 6 percent pay raise.

James Reter, the school system's director of business and finance, represented the board in talks with the food service workers.

He said the board has been trying to address the installation of fans in more schools.

"Not as fast as you're making the school year go longer," Mrs. Nusbaum said, referring to the possibility that three days will be added to the end of the school year to make up for days missed because of snow.

"It's hard to serve lunches when you're stepping over employees passed out from the heat," she said.

Mrs. Nusbaum said safety regulations prevent employees in the kitchens from using portable fans with cords, because of the proximity of water, among other hazards.

With food service workers and other classified employees, the board is seeking to remove contract language that allows dismissals to be appealed through a grievance procedure, although board and court appeals would still be available.

Also, the board is asking to be able to extend probationary periods for classified employees.

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