Education Minister: School boards knew of CUPE costs

Trustees knew costs were coming, but some figured they could wait for an NDP government to come in and pay for raises: Fassbender

Education Minister Peter Fassbender

VICTORIA – Education Minister Peter Fassbender says boards protesting the cost of a 3.5 per cent raise for school support should have known it was coming, but some opted to wait and hope for an NDP government to take over.

Fassbender said in an interview that school trustees have been working with the education ministry for months on “savings plans.” They knew the B.C. Liberal government would not increase budgets to cover a raise for workers who haven’t seen one in four years, and have been without a contract for more than a year.

“I think there was some hope on the part of some [trustees] that we would, with our backs to the wall perhaps, come up with additional dollars,” Fasssbender said. “And the other reality, quite honestly, was that up until May 14 there was some anticipation that there was going to be a change of government.”

Trustees around the province are grappling with added costs for contracts with 69 union locals representing education assistants, bus drivers, custodians and crossing guards. Mostly members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, support staff workers are currently voting on a two-year tentative agreement that is already more than halfway to expiring next June.

Union locals and boards of education must all vote to ratify the agreement by December for it to take effect. It includes a one per cent raise retroactive to July 1, another two per cent starting Feb. 1 and 0.5 per cent in May 2014.

Districts calculate costs from the deal to be more than $2 million in Vancouver, $700,000 in Chilliwack and proportional amounts in other districts, most of which have already cut services due to declining enrolment.

Fassbender said the support staff settlement meets the government’s “cooperative gains” mandate imposed on all public service unions, because CUPE chose to accept a smaller raise and protect its ability to bank sick days.

The ministry’s new chief negotiator, Peter Cameron, offered CUPE two per cent raises in each year, as other government workers have received, but the tradeoff was to give up accumulating unused sick days.

School support staff and teachers are the last provincial government unions to accept a “cooperative gains” contract. Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark have offered to fund raises for teachers, if they will agree to a long-term settlement.

Fassbender said the expired support staff contracts had to be dealt with first, and new negotiations with CUPE will have to begin soon.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

IN PHOTOS: 2020 Wilgress Lake Fishing Derby

Fishermen dotted Wilgress Lake for the Boundary Métis Association’s annual event

Grand Forks marches against gender violence

The Grand Forks march was part of 1 Billion Rising, a global movement against gender violence

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Students test out future careers with WorkBC visit

By far, WorkBC tour manager said, the airplane pilot station was a favourite

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Two overdose deaths in Nelson over the weekend

Police warn that much of the current drug supply in the city may be dangerous

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Woman arrested in Cariboo after fuel stolen, police car rammed

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

No dramatic shifts expected as B.C. government tables new budget today

Finance Minister Carole James has promised to stay the course when she tables the budget in the legislature

Most Read