About 50 school bus drivers, janitors, groundskeepers, food service and maintenance workers carried signs and waved at motorists Thursday night in front of Tumwater School District headquarters.
Their message: The district’s latest contract offer to Tumwater United Public School Employees is unacceptable.
The organization represents about 150 employees, and is one of four unions in the district, according to district spokeswoman Kim Howard.
“We have been meeting regularly regarding a robust set of PSE (Public School Employees) proposals,” Howard said in a statement for The Olympian. “We make progress in each session and look forward to our next meeting on Oct. 16.”
The group’s contract expired Aug. 31, according to David Fleming, a field representative for the union. The workers haven’t seen a pay raise in at least four years, and their medical premiums have increased by 42 percent during that time, he said.
Paul Mueller, the head custodian at Black Lake Elementary School, said the district cut a third of the janitorial staff in recent years, which increased his workload. He described the district’s latest offer as “an insult.”
“We were willing to put up with it when the times were tough; we rolled with it,” said Mueller, 58, who has worked in the district for 26 years. “We just feel we need a little more than what the district has offered.”
School board President Jay Wood said he believes the issues will be resolved in time.
“They’re all wonderful people,” Wood said. “And they’re just as important to all of us (as the district’s other employees).”