KOOTENAY LAKE-Members of CUPE Local 748, education workers of School District 8 (Kootenay Lake) voted to reaffirm their strike mandate over the weekend. 100% of members voting decided that job action is necessary if an agreement with the school district is not achieved. Two rallies are planned for this week; in Creston on Wednesday November 27, and in Nelson on Thursday November 28.
“The major stumbling block has been the School Board’s decision to reject a savings plan impacting jobs, in order to fund the long overdue wage adjustment education workers deserve,” said Michelle Bennett, President of CUPE Local 748. “We hope job action is not required, but we owe it to our students, parents and our communities to be honest and transparent by informing them that there is a real possibility if a settlement with the employer cannot be reached.”
“CUPE Local 748 members understand and live every day with the challenges school board trustees face as a result of the BC Government’s ‘Cooperative Gains’ mandate and their persistent, chronic underfunding of BC’s public education system,” said Bennett. “Moving beyond this difficult round of bargaining, I look forward to finally working together with other CUPE Locals, teachers, and school districts around the province to ensure our public education system is fully funded so that every student can succeed in schools that clean, safe, and inclusive.”
On September 18th, the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council Bargaining Subcommittee signed a Provincial Framework Agreement with the BC Government providing a 3.5% wage increase for BC education workers. BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender required local boards of education to submit a ‘cost savings plan’ to fund the agreement. School District 8 stands alone as the only board to not submit a plan to pay for the wage adjustment.
“I am proud of the trustees of the Kootenay Lake School Board for rejecting the presented savings plan because they understand it would affect core services for students. However, our school district does need to approve a plan – one that does not have an adverse affect on students,” said Bennett. “While Local 748 supports the Board in calling for much needed funding, our first priority is a fair collective agreement. After a settlement is achieved, we hope to work with the Board, parents, teachers and the community in a sustained campaign to pressure the BC government to adequately support BC students.”
Across BC, 21 CUPE Locals have ratified collective agreements settled with their respective School Districts, 17 Locals have reached a settlement and are scheduling ratification votes, and 19 Locals have yet to finalize a settlement.
CUPE Local 748 will be holding two rallies this week calling for “A Fair Deal for Kootenay Lake Schools”:
Wednesday November 27th
Rally from 3:00-4:00 p.m. MST
Prince Charles Secondary School
223 18th Ave. South Creston B.C.
Thursday November 28th
Rally from 3:00-4:00 p.m. PST
Hume Elementary School
310 Nelson Avenue, Nelson B.C.