Union grievance targets food, drinks

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Jan. 17, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The school custodians’ union, concerned about food and drinks that students take out of the high school cafeteria, has filed a grievance with the school district.

The Board of Education will hold a hearing on the grievance at its regular meeting tonight.

The issue stems from concerns that students eating and drinking outside of the cafeteria are creating “potentially hazardous working conditions,” said Larry Dorman, a spokesman for parent union Connecticut Council 4.

The custodians’ union in North Branford is Local 1303-54 and includes 13 janitors and one grounds keeper, Dorman said. One employee filed the grievance. Dorman would not release the employee’s name.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish is to get the board and superintendent to understand why we’re concerned about the issue of food and water being taken out of the cafeteria and we’re looking to make sure that the schools are safe,” he said. “We think that bringing food and drink out of the cafeteria poses hazards and liabilities that the school system ought to address.”

Dorman said he could not discuss details before tonight’s hearing of any possible accidents involving trash or food and drink spills outside of the cafeteria. He added that the grievance primarily concerns North Branford High School.

Principal Michele Saulis could not be reached for comment.

According to the meeting agenda, board members are set to hear the grievance and then adjourn to executive session for discussion. Dorman said he is not sure why there is a public session portion of the hearing.

“It can be unusual to have a grievance hearing in public,” he said.

Superintendent Robert Wolfe said this week that he can not comment on the matter before the hearing. The grievance was filed on Nov. 21.

Under the grievance procedure, Wolfe said, an employee can meet first with his or her supervisor, the district’s business director and the superintendent.

If the employee is not satisfied with the outcome of those meetings, he or she can request a hearing before the Board of Education.

After the hearing, the board has 14 days to make a decision, Wolfe said.

“They’ll hear the grievance and then they will decide if any action is warranted,” he said.

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