Recent Privatization of Food Services Ruled Unlawful
CONCORD, NH (April 10, 2014) – The Public Employee Labor Relations Board, PELRB, has ruled that the Farmington Schools District has violated New Hampshire labor laws when they outsourced and privatized food services in the district.
The decision to privatize food services, made during a last-minute board meeting in August, meant Farmington food service employees would have their wages cut and the loss of their current benefits including sick leave and participation in their health care plan and in the New Hampshire Retirement System.
The PELRB decision instructs the District to make affected employees whole by taking “the steps necessary to restore all terms and conditions of employment and otherwise refrain from making unilateral changes in areas that are mandatory subjects of bargaining.”
“These are state laws that are being violated, not guidelines or recommendations but laws,” said Debbie Pate, President of Farmington Educational Support Professionals United (FESPU). “You can’t just disregard the law because it’s not convenient for you,” continued Pate.
This most recent PELRB decision comes on the heels of a prior decision that found Farmington Superintendent Steven Welford had violated New Hampshire labor laws on four separate occasions in 2012 and 2013.
On March 20th of this year the State upheld charges by the Farmington paraprofessionals’ union that Welford illegally coerced employees who exercised their rights, illegally interfered in the association’s operations, and failed to negotiate in good faith.
“This Superintendent continues to ignore the laws of New Hampshire,” said Pate. “The School Board needs to ask how much extra money his unlawful actions have cost the town of Farmington and for how much longer they are willing to put up with it.”
The PELRB is the second New Hampshire agency to find Welford violated the law. In 2012, the NH Department of Labor fined the Farmington School District over $3,000 for failing to pay wages. The fine was reduced after back wages were paid.