School support staff threaten strike

Education assistants, custodians, bus drivers, librarians and other support staff have been without contract since June 30, 2012

For the second time in three years, labour action could disrupt the school year, only this time it is support staff workers that are threatening to go on strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents more than 27,000 school support staff workers across B.C., is threatening to go on strike if negotiations continue to stall on a new contract.

“If the government doesn’t show a commitment to bargaining, our members will take full scale job action,” said Colin Pawson, chair of the CUPE BC K-12 President’ Council. “They’re frustrated that we’ve had three false starts to negotiating, and the clock is ticking.”

CUPE represents workers such as custodians, librarians, clerical staff, bus drivers and education assistants.

The union’s last collective bargaining agreement expired more than a year ago and the support staff have been without a contract ever since.

On the employer’s side, the government has taken over negotiations and has appointed Peter Cameron to represent the government at the bargaining table.

Jean Frolek, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 523, which covers Revelstoke, said CUPE walked away from bargaining because the B.C. government’s negotiator was unable to discuss wage increases.

In recent negotiations with public sector unions, the B.C. government has imposed a collective gains mandate that  stipulates any wage increases must come from savings found within that sector. Last winter, school districts were asked to identify budget reductions to fund potential CUPE contract increases, however, school boards claimed there was no money to be found and refused to complete the exercise.

Alan Chell, the chair of the Revelstoke Board of Education, said another round of bargaining is scheduled for Sept. 4–6 in order to establish a provincial framework for an agreement that can then be taken back to the local unions. “Both parties would hope during that three-day period that we would be able to establish a provincial framework,” said Chell.

He is hopeful an agreement can be reached and said support staff workers make important contributions to the education system and the union’s demands for a wage increase are valid. At the same time, the province has allocated no money to cover a wage increase, so savings will have to be found elsewhere in the budget, either by re-allocating funding or by finding efficiencies in other parts of the contract.

“There’s a lot of potential sources for money, but the two things that are absolutely clear is there is expectation for wage increase and there will be no new money added,” he said. “It’s up to the parties take it from there and reach an agreement.”

 

Just Posted

Second cannabis store in the works for Revelstoke

City Council approved a development variance permit for Revelsmoke Aug. 13

No public comments on Mackenzie Village development agreement amendments

Revelstoke City Council held a public hearing and heard one written comment and none in-person

Author of Emily Carr books coming to speak in Revelstoke

Laurie Carter will be at the Revelstoke library on Sept. 26

Photos: Railway Days at Revelstoke Railway Museum 2019

Today was Railway Days at the Revelstoke Railway Museum. There was food,… Continue reading

Festival goers at the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Summerland’s downtown has gone through numerous changes

Main Street has been commercial hub of community for many years

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Okanagan climate advocacy group protests against Tolko

Group to demonstrate outside Vernon head office Monday over plan to log close to water supply

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Okanagan Cultural Connections live venue tour kicks off in Vernon

Two dozen promoters, national booking agents, and music reps to visit venues from Vernon to Oliver

Most Read