Martha’s Vineyard Schools sign new pact with cafeteria workers

In this photo taken on the first day of the 2012 school year, new West Tisbury School cafeteria director Jenny Devivo served up the day's meal with a big smile. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The All-Island School Committee (AISC) met Thursday night and ratified a new three-year tentative contract agreement with the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) food service workers’ bargaining unit. Superintendent of Schools James Weiss said the food service workers had already ratified the tentative agreement, which runs from September 1, 2013,

through August 31, 2016.

A total of 14 school cafeteria employees will receive salary increases of 2 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, 2.5 percent the next year, and 3 percent the third year under the terms of the new contract. In the second year of the agreement, all workers on the top step will receive a one-time payment of $500. The salary scale ranges from a low of $16.44 per hour to $31.75 per hour.

Under new longevity pay categories, food service workers will receive payments after completing 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years of continuous service. The amounts range from $1,250 after completing 10 years of continuous service to $3,000 after completing 30 years of continuous service.

Mr. Weiss called the school committee’s attention to the agreement’s last provision, which states that the negotiation committees “propose to seek ways to reduce the impact of paperwork on the food service staff based upon the local situation in each district.”

“One of the challenges of the food service program is the level of paperwork now required by the state and Federal government,” he said. “However, since the ladies and gentleman who work in our cafeterias are basically cooks, they now have to be accountants and paper managers, and that’s really very difficult. We’re going to try to see if we can work with them to have other people in the school buildings help them with that.”

Susan Mercier of Edgartown, who served on the AISC negotiations subcommittee, said all of the food service workers participated in the negotiations. She described their meeting as “amicable and light-hearted.”

In keeping with a new contract agreement ratified by MVPS teachers in February, the food services workers agreed to two additional work days, one in the second year of the agreement and another in the third year. A significant change in the agreement is that it includes the addition of new food service workers employed by the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD), as well as cafeteria workers employed in the Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury Schools.

It does not affect food service workers at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, who are employed by Chartwells, a food service management company contracted to run the school’s cafeteria.

In the past, the high school’s contract included the provision of meals for UIRSD students at the West Tisbury and Chilmark Schools, prepared at the high school by Chartwell employees. The UIRSD started its own food service program last September, and hired four part-time employees.

The Island has two educators’ professional associations, the Martha’s Vineyard Educators Association and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional Teachers and Educators Association. Their representatives negotiate as one team for teachers, education support professionals (ESPs), cafeteria workers, secretaries, and custodians. Each group has a collective bargaining unit.

Mr. Weiss said the AISC negotiations sub-committee has had an initial meeting to start negotiations with custodians next, which will be followed by negotiations with secretaries and then ESPs.