Jun 01, 2010

CUPE school staff give notice to bargain

BURNABY—CUPE locals representing staff in the public education system have served notice to open bargaining with their employers. Collective agreements covering over 26,000 workers in school districts throughout the province expire on June 30.

The CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council served formal notice today to the BC Public School Employers’ Association on behalf of member locals. Local unions also served notice individually to their employers.

CUPE’s Presidents’ Council was formed in September 2009 and council vice-chair Leslie Franklin says that this round of bargaining will see historic levels of coordination both within CUPE and with unions who represent staff outside of CUPE. Franklin expects that bargaining will begin at the local level between school districts and individual unions and will move to the provincial level to deal with cost and benefits areas.

Key issues for school staff will be job security, addressing the unpaid work of education assistants and ensuring proper funding for long-term disability and other benefits. CUPE K-12 staff coordinator Bill Pegler says CUPE will be seeking ongoing support for province-wide initiatives like the Public Education Benefits Trust, which provides cost-effective and comprehensive benefits, and the Support Staff Education Adjustment Committee, which deals with training and professional development to ensure a workforce that can meet the needs of learners.

“We are hopeful that we can gain a solid financial footing for the joint initiatives that currently exist and work well, particularly given the B.C. government’s support for joint work and pooling resources for efficiencies within the K-12 system, ” says Pegler.

Given that the teachers’ agreement provides a 2 per cent wage increase in the coming year - Pegler says the issue of wage fairness for staff whose work keeps the public education system running will be on the table.

CUPE members work in every support role within the public school system. We are there to ensure children arrive at school (bus drivers, crossing guards). We support students in the system (noon-hour supervisors, education assistants, cultural workers). We provide clerical services (payroll, accounting, secretarial). We maintain facilities (trades, maintenance, information technology, custodial).

COPE 491