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Orange School District, Union Stepping Up Talks to End Strike

May 11, 1994|MARTIN MILLER

ORANGE — Efforts to end a 7-day-old strike by non-teaching employees in the Orange Unified School District intensified Tuesday as district and union officials discussed proposals to save the district money on health insurance costs.

Although the two sides haven't met formally since hundreds of classified employees walked off the job, district and union officials said they have talked to each other dozens of times over the past two days.

"We are talking every day by phone," said Jack Elsner, head of the district's personnel department. "But I hope one of these days we can sit down together and resolve this."

Union representatives have offered district officials a proposal to switch health insurance companies, a move that could reduce the district's annual health costs from $4.8 million to $4.5 million. The figure includes health care costs for retirees.

District officials said that before they will sit down and talk with union representatives, they must have written confirmation on the exact saving under the proposal.

The union and district have been deadlocked for months over a school board-approved contract that cut health benefits, imposed three furlough days and gave the district authority to reduce hours and lay off workers without negotiating.

The district said the cuts were necessary to save $485,000, which was needed to close a $2.2-million shortfall in this year's $107-million budget.

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