Three Okanagan CUPE unions issue 72-hour strike notice
As if Monday’s meeting SD8 Board of Education at 6:30 p.m. in the Nelson Board Room of the Kootenay Lake School Board wasn’t important enough, trustee decisions may be even more concerning to parents of students in District 8 after a decision by three CUPE locals in the Okanagan to issue 72-hour strike notice.
Potential job action could occur in School District 53 (Okanagan Similkameen), School District 67(Okanagan Skaha), and School District 83(North Okanagan Shuswap).
“Ya, we’re definitely going to be at that meeting,” said CUPE Local 748 president Michelle Bennett after hearing the news that three Okanagan locals have issued notice.
The CUPE Local 523 Bargaining Committee is frustrated that the employer group demanded a concession to claw back long term disability savings. The three school districts bargain together and have a single collective agreement with the approximately 1150 members of CUPE Local 523.
“I find it incredibly disrespectful for these employers to deny workers the opportunity to improve their outdated benefit plans,” said CUPE Local 523 Bargaining Committee spokesperson Rob Hewitt.
“The union has clearly demonstrated that by allocating some clearly identified savings towards those improvements, in accordance with the cooperative gains mandate, it would still result in a savings to the Districts.”
Bennett said both rallies held by CUPE Local 748 in Creston, Wednesday, and Thursday, in front of Hume School on Nelson Avenue in the Heritage City, were well attended and got their point across to the public.
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.
CUPE locals serving School Boards across the province have been without a contact since June 30, 2012.
CUPE Local 748 turned up the heat on the Kootenay Lake School board earlier this week when it voted to reaffirm their strike mandate after failing to come to an agreement with the employer, Kootenay Lake School District No. 8.
The vote, 100 percent in favour of job action, happened during the union meeting this past weekend.
Bennett said the major stumbling block has been the School Board’s decision to not pass a savings plan impacting CUPE jobsin order to fund the long overdue wage adjustment education workers deserve.
The BC Governments’ ‘cooperative gains mandate’ allows the parties to find savings within the collective agreement in order to provide improvements to benefits.
CUPE said the Okanagan School Districts — School District 53 (Okanagan Similkameen) is running a $5M surplus, School District 67(Okanagan Skaha) a $15M surplus, and School District 83 (North Okanagan Shuswap) a $20M surplus — are running with extra cash.