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Food service workers get raise

Merrie Leininger, staff writer

The Douglas County School District’s food service workers will receive a 2 percent raise, retroactive to the start of last school year.

Randy Cahill of the Nevada State Education Association, which represented the food service workers in an arbitration hearing, said the hearing was held in May at the district office and arbitrator Bonnie Bogue released her finding last week.

According to Cahill, the arbitrator is required to choose between the district’s demands and food services’ demands – she could not order the two to compromise.

The Douglas County Support Staff Organization asked for a 2 percent raise and the district offered no raise. Cahill said the criteria used by the arbitrator to make the decision are if the district can afford it and which demand is more reasonable. Bogue sided with the support staff because the district agreed it could afford the raise.

DCSD personnel director John Soderman said the raise amounts to $9,500 for about 35 employees.

He said the district knew going into arbitration that there was little chance to win, but DCSD felt because no one else received a raise this year, food service shouldn’t, either.

“Our basic thing was, it’s not a lot of money, but when the state gives you no money and then people ask for money, what do you do or not do to pay for that? It’s not fiscally responsible,” Soderman said. “Usually, when it comes to salary, we believe they all deserve it.”

He said the other contract issues had been tentatively settled, and now the contract has to be approved by the board with the raises.

Food service workers’ jobs range from cashier to cook to nutrition manager. Wages range from $8.06 per hour to $15.41 before the 2 percent raise.

The school board is still going to arbitration with the teachers over the issue of salary. Because there are about 450 teachers, Soderman is not sure how this decision will affect arbitration.

“I don’t know, that’s a whole lot more money and a whole lot more people. We pretty much recognized it would be an uphill battle with a small amount of workers, but then, (raising teachers’ salaries) would have a bigger impact on the budget; it is a different case,” Soderman said.