Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) school support staff are closer to achieving a negotiated contract.
CUPE BC K-12 reached a tentative two-year framework agreement last week with the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).
Both sides must still ratify the agreement.
“Over two years this agreement provides our members a total 3.5-per-cent wage adjustment, with no concessions,” CUPE BC K-12 presidents’ council chair Colin Pawson said in a news release.
According to the news release, each CUPE union local will conclude local bargaining with school districts, and then the provincial settlement and local settlement will be considered together at local ratification meetings.
The agreement was unanimously endorsed by the CUPE provincial bargaining sub-committee and was recommended by the CUPE BC K-12 presidents’ council, according to the CUPE news release.
The Province told school boards they must find savings in their budgets to pay for any CUPE wage increases, as per the co-operative gains mandate.
Comox Valley board of education chair Tom Weber said late last week the board has been looking at its options.
“Obviously, we’re running various scenarios and options and I think once we get to a point where there’s actually been a ratification … and there’s further clarification from government about their co-operative gains mandate, then we’ll be speaking to that publicly,” he said, noting finding savings to pay for wage increases would be a challenge.
“Any dollar that we need to find to cover off costs incurred through contract negotiations will be a challenge.
“I think it’s fairly well-known sort of across the province that there are boards who have arguably greater overall budget pressures than perhaps we do, but that’s not to suggest that it wouldn’t be a challenge for us.
“Our goal through any sort of austerity process where we need to find dollars is to find those dollars as far away from the classroom as possible, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Comox Valley School District superintendent Sherry Elwood spoke about finding savings during Tuesday’s board of education meeting. She noted the board is expected to find the savings and send its plan to government by October 15.