BURNABY—After the first week of summer vacation for students, education workers across the province are resolved to make sure BC schools are clean, safe, and inclusive. The 27,000 CUPE education workers have voted to strike in almost all of the 57 K-12 Locals, in 53 school districts.
Going without a wage increase since 2009, CUPE education workers remain hopeful for funded settlements that would see similar agreements as were achieved for other public sector employees.
"CUPE education workers want a fair settlement with the provincial government," said Colin Pawson, President of CUPE Local 1091 in Delta and Chair of the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council. "Without any adjustment of wages for more than 4 years, it is time the people who keep our children's schools working are respected."
Both CUPE K-12 Locals and school boards agree that needs of students must be at the forefront of negotiations. This sentiment had been clearly expressed by school boards early this year and is now being reaffirmed to the new Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender.
Most recently, School District 33 in Chilliwack expressed "grave concerns" to the Minister that for the BC Government to realize long-term labour peace "the best interest of students and the implementation flexibility of Boards may be marginalized."
"We further urge your Ministry to provide funding for a reasonable increase for our CUPE staff and any wage changes considered for our teaching staff in this round of bargaining," said Chilliwack School District Chair Walt Krahn and Vice Chair Silvia Dyck in a letter to the Minister.
"Any agreement is only successful if all sides have been considered and the delivery of public education can continue to meet the needs in the most cost effective manner," the letter stated.
CUPE education workers include education assistants, clerical staff, trades, aboriginal workers, youth and family workers, custodians, and bus drivers.