BRISTOL — The city’s 53 cafeteria workers will keep their jobs.
A ruling by the state Board of Labor Relations Tuesday said the Board of Education must honor the tentative agreement it negotiated with the union, a deal that the Republican majority on the panel declined to back.
“I’m very, very happy about the cafeteria workers,” said Mike Petosa, president of the Greater Bristol Labor Council. “This was a long struggle they went through.”
School board members could not be reached late Tuesday.
It is not clear what will happen with the contract the schools recently made with a private cafeteria operator that hoped to begin serving city students in the coming academic year.
Chad Lockhart, president of the Local 2267 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, which represents the cafeteria employees who feared losing their jobs, said the union is thrilled with the decision.
“For two years, school cafeteria workers have been kicked around like a political football at the expense of all Bristol taxpayers,” he said, urging the school board “to do the right thing by the food service workers and all Bristol taxpayers.”
“It’s time to stop running up the legal bills and to start respecting the concept of good faith negotiations,” Lockhart said. “We all need to move forward to act in the best interests of our schools and our students.” City Councilor Calvin Brown called the ruling “a great news” and congratulated “the fine ladies and the union that represents them” for winning at the state level.
“Never give up hope when you’re hoping for justice,” Brown said.
The ruling specifically cited Board of Education Chairman Larry Amara’s refusal to back the tentative deal reached by a negotiating committee he served on. It said his opposition to the contract violated labor law.
“The ruling vindicates our legal position that the Board of Education chairman overstepped his boundaries and acted in bad faith by refusing to honor a concession agreement designed to prevent outsourcing in the first place,” said Kevin Murphy, director of collective bargaining for AFSCME’s Council 4.
Steve Collins can be reached at (860) 584-0501, ext. 7254, or firstname.lastname@example.org.