CUPE, BCPSEA inch closer to finalizing deal to end school support workers labour dispute
It’s music to the ears of Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 Superintendent Jeff Jones that the Canadian Union of Public Employees has reached a tentative Provincial Framework Agreement with the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).
The Framework Agreement was unanimously endorsed by the CUPE BC K-12 Provincial Bargaining Sub-Committee and will be recommended to the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council for endorsement.
“Our School District highly values our employees and we are glad that we are much closer to a ratified agreement than we were at the beginning of the school year,” Jones told The Nelson Daily Thursday.
“Local 748 and School District 8 (Kootenay Lake) will resume bargaining at the local level once the provincial framework is ratified, and local bargaining dates have been set.”
Kootenay CUPE Local 748 represents all employees in the School District No. 8 except members of the Kootenay Lake Teachers’ Federation and excluded management positions.
Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 stretches from Yahk in the east to Slocan City in the west, Salmo in the south and Meadow Creek in the north.
The two sides reached the tentative deal late Wednesday night, ending fears the potential labour strike could disrupt the school year.
The tentative two-year deal, retroactive to July 1, 2012, includes a 3.5-per-cent wage increase over the two years — and one percent wage increase on July 1, 2013, two percent on February 1, 2014 and 0.5 percent on May 1, 2014 — introduces a system for up-front prescription costs.
There are no concessions for CUPE workers in the tentative deal
However, if CUPE unions ultimately ratify the agreement, school districts will be on the hook to pay for a negotiated 3.5-per-cent wage increase.
“As you know the responsibility of funding the proposed provincial agreement falls to each school district in the Province,” Jones explained.
“Our School Board will be looking at all facets of our current financial position in order to determine how we will attend to this.”
The bargaining now reverts back to each CUPE union local and their respective tables with school districts to conclude collective bargaining.
Now that wages have been agreed to, Jones is hopeful the final part of the deal can be concluded soon so everyone can get back to the task at hand, delivering quality education to students in School District No. 8.
“CUPE employees continue to be in a legal position to strike until such time as an agreement is signed,” Jones said.
“At this time it would be inappropriate for me to discuss particulars about the outstanding items for discussion at the local level.”
Kootenay CUPE Local 748 president Michelle Bennett could not be reached for comment prior to the story being posted to The Nelson Daily.
In an earlier story, however, Bennett said a major issue still to be bargained was seniority at the local level.