Local 799 Wins Improvements in Wage Reopener

June 10, 2024

Members of Local 799, who work various jobs in the food service, maintenance, custodial, and transportation departments at Delaware City Schools, had to settle their previous contract with the school district in 2022 under difficult circumstances. Students had just recently returned to the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the district’s financial future was unclear. The union agreed to relatively low wage increases, with a wage reopener in 2024.

As the bargaining committee entered negotiations this year, they knew they needed to make up the ground they had lost to inflation. The school district has two other bargaining units who negotiated their wage reopeners first, both of them settling after only one meeting with the district. Local 799 was interested in putting up a bit more of a fight. 

Members of the local wore union buttons in support of the bargaining committee, who came prepared to negotiate for a variety of changes related to salary, steps, and insurance. After meeting with the employer multiple times, they settled on a five percent raise, commensurate with the other bargaining units. They also eliminated a historic contract issue: “duplicate” steps in which members were moved up a step but did not get a raise. In doing so, they compressed the wage table, allowing members to reach the top rate sooner. The local also achieved longevity bonuses for members sooner, as well as language that allows them to pick up additional work outside of their job codes and a $250 one-time bonus to offset rising insurance costs. Improved communication tactics around the wage reopener increased member participation, and Local 799 hopes to win further gains when they renegotiate the full contract in 2025. 

The bargaining committee consisted of President Dennis Palmquist, Vice President Jeff Wilcox, Financial Secretary Tami Gardner, Recording Secretary Don Shannon, Chief Steward Kathy Goddard, and Food Service Steward Mary Willis. They were assisted by Field Organizer Heather Hillenbrand.


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