By Diana Bowley of the BDN Staff: DEXTER, Maine - SAD 46 directors voted this week to go to mediation with the union representing the district's bus drivers to settle a conflict over insurance.
Directors have been negotiating with Teamsters Union Local 340 on a new 2008-2011 contract since last spring, according to SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan. Everything except insurance has been tentatively agreed upon in the proposed contract, he said.
Essentially, a bus driver who works 35 hours or more receives a full-time insurance benefit, Jordan said. The district pays 100 percent for a single subscriber. For those who work less than 35 hours, the insurance is on a prorated basis, he said. What the union is requesting is that all bus drivers receive the single subscriber benefit, he said.
The last contract offer made by the district to the union, one of four unions in the district, was turned down by bus drivers 11-1. They, in turn, requested the matter go to mediation and the board accepted that recommendation.
Jordan said the cost of the mediation will be divided between the union and the district.
Also this week, Jordan updated the board on a settlement the district received.
Nitram Inc. of Fairfield, the site contractor that won the bid for the new school, was not able to get a performance bond from its surety company, Jordan said. Since the company could not fulfill its obligation, it backed out of the project and when it did so, the district filed a lawsuit in Penobscot County Superior Court for breach of contract.
"We were eligible to collect damages from them," Jordan said. To do that, the district had to show the extra costs that were involved because of any delay or for any further architectural or engineering costs.
Jordan said the court required the district and the firm to go to mediation before the matter was heard in court, and they did so on Oct. 17. As a result of that mediation, the matter was settled.
"I'm prohibited by the settlement to tell you the amount, but we did receive a small settlement," Jordan said. "Essentially the settlement is to cover our damages and the things we had to do to move on to the second bidder."
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