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.

 

Just Posted

Pioneer Park playground opens for fun and play

The $160,000 playground is wheelchair accessible and funded partly through grants

After 30 years, Agassiz’s Miss Marge set to retire from Variety Play

From 1989 to today, Miss Marge has taken generations of kids through the district play program

RCMP believe Missing Hope teenager was headed to Chilliwack

Keely Reeze Loewen, 18, last in contact with a family member on June 13

Summer service by bus from Chilliwack to Cultus Lake starting soon

Seasonal change will see bus service from Vedder Road to Cultus elementary until Labour Day

Chilliwack trustees divided on Trans Mountain pipeline route near two schools

School district will pen letter to NEB to ask for re-routing away from schools to be considered

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

New Westminster police seek video of fight between two teens

Police responded to a fight at Pier Park in the early hours of June 14

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

Most Read