Province cuts school support deal ahead of teachers strike vote

Tentative agreement gives CUPE staff in schools 5.5 per cent wage increases over five years (WITH AUDIO)

The province has struck a tentative deal with 34,000 school support staff on the eve of B.C. teachers’ vote on staging a full-scale strike.

The five-year agreement reached Saturday provides wage increases totalling 5.5 per cent, with potential for more tied to the performance of the B.C. economy – in line with the standard settlements reached with other public sector unions.

It covers education assistants, school secretaries, caretakers, bus drivers and other education support staff, mostly represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The union and provincial negotiators with the B.C. Public School Employers Association hammered the deal out in just five days following the start of talks last Tuesday.

“This success provides ample evidence that the bargaining system works — when the parties come to the table with reasonable expectations and a flexible, solution-oriented approach,” said BCPSEA public administrator Michael Marchbank said.

“We built some momentum very quickly,” CUPE B.C. spokesman Rob Hewitt said. “The government came our direction enough to meet in the middle and we found a solution.”

He said the union also secured increased hours for education assistants and standardization gains to extended health benefit plans.

Asked if the timing of talks amid the intensifying teachers dispute helped CUPE negotiators, Hewitt said only the teachers were not discussed at the table.

Also included is an Employee Support Grant covering any wages CUPE members lose by refusing to cross legal picket lines.

The union’s support for the B.C. Teachers Federation and teachers’ pursuit of long-term adequate funding for public education “hasn’t changed one iota,” CUPE B.C. president Mark Hancock said.

“Just as the teachers have been at our side as our members have fought for public education, we continue to stand with them.”

The deal running through to the summer of 2019 must still be ratified by union members.

As with other agreements, school support staff get further wage increases in the final four years of the agreement equivalent to half of any increase of provincial economic growth in excess of the budget’s forecast.

GDP growth of one per cent above the forecast in a given year would, for example, trigger a further 0.5 per cent pay hike.

Just Posted

Area restrictions rescinded in northwest B.C.

The orders will be rescinded Sept. 19 at noon

Verdun Mountain and Nadina Lake fires 100 per cent contained

Area restriction orders in effect for several fires

Vigil for Jessica Patrick

VIDEOS: Hundreds honour a young mother who lost her life. Jessica Patrick was 18.

Still unclear if Houston will benefit from new opioids crisis funding

Canada’s health minister has recently announced $71.7 million in emergency funding

Houston participant at the BC 55+ Games

This year’s 55+ BC Games (previously the BC Seniors Games) had one… Continue reading

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Pot, cash, mansions: Judge divvies up illegal estate of divorcing B.C. couple

The Smiths ran a multi-million marijuana operation that spanned three counties

Most Read