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Non-Teaching Workers in Orange OK Strike : Labor: School bus drivers and food and clerical employees will be affected by job action Monday. Dispute is over contract.

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Angered over their new contract, the union representing non-teaching employees of the Orange Unified School District--including bus drivers, food service and clerical workers--will strike beginning Monday, officials announced Friday night.

District officials, who persevered through a massive union sickout earlier this week, said schools will maintain regular hours during the walkout. The district is urging parents to drive students to school during the strike.

“We are preparing for a strike Monday,” Gretchen Hanson said Friday night. Hanson will assume duties as interim superintendent Monday.

The California School Employees Assn., which represents 1,160 employees, has accused the district of unfair labor practices. The district has steadfastly denied the charges.

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Union officials said a canceled meeting with district officials Friday afternoon led to the strike.

“It’s like they were rubbing our noses in the fact we want to sit down and talk,” said union President Becky Mayers. “The anger is building with the troops, and it really peaked this afternoon.”

About 900 classified employees staged a one-day sickout Tuesday, causing considerable delays in student bus transportation, changing cafeteria menus and closing down some school child-care facilities.

The union wants to renegotiate a controversial board-imposed contract that cuts health benefits, imposes furloughs and empowers the district to reduce hours or lay off workers without notice.

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However, district officials say negotiations on the contract, which took effect April 10, are over. But district officials said they were willing to talk about resolving the dispute over unfair-labor charges.

District officials defend the contract with classified employees, arguing that the $485,000 in savings it provided helped close a $2.2-million shortfall in the district’s $107-million budget.


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