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November 28, 2013

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Creston education workers rally for a fair deal

CRESTON–Dozens of education workers represented by CUPE Local 748 rallied today for a fair deal for Kootenay Schools.

School District #8 (Kootenay Lake) trustees have refused to adopt a budget plan for implementing the provincial framework agreement achieved with the BC Public School Employers’ Association in October. Without a plan in place a new collective agreement with Local 748 cannot be signed, making job action and class disruption likely.

On Saturday, November 23, Local 748 members voted 100% to reaffirm their strike mandate.

“Our members keep Creston’s schools clean, safe, and inclusive. Settlements have been reached in 38 other districts without incident,” said Bill Pegler, CUPE’s K-12 Co-coordinator. “It’s time for Kootenay Lake trustees to get the deal done and avoid disruption of classes.”

Today’s rally was hosted by Local 748 Bargaining Committee Chair Mike Kootinikoff and featured remarks from the Kootenay District Council President Gerry Schmon and Bill Pegler.

Creston Valley Teachers President Becky Blair also spoke at the rally and pledged her members’ support for CUPE education workers.

Pegler said that many Kootenay Lake trustees have expressed frustration over inadequate provincial funding, but emphasized that taking out that frustration on CUPE members over a modest wage adjustment is unfair.

“We share the frustration of the Kootenay Lake trustees. The BC government is doing a poor job of supporting BC’s public schools,” said Pegler. “The way forward is to sign a deal with education workers and form a united front to put pressure on the government to make education a priority.”

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