Province cuts school support deal ahead of teachers strike vote

Tentative agreement gives CUPE staff in schools 5.5 per cent wage increases over five years (WITH AUDIO)

The province has struck a tentative deal with 34,000 school support staff on the eve of B.C. teachers’ vote on staging a full-scale strike.

The five-year agreement reached Saturday provides wage increases totalling 5.5 per cent, with potential for more tied to the performance of the B.C. economy – in line with the standard settlements reached with other public sector unions.

It covers education assistants, school secretaries, caretakers, bus drivers and other education support staff, mostly represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The union and provincial negotiators with the B.C. Public School Employers Association hammered the deal out in just five days following the start of talks last Tuesday.

“This success provides ample evidence that the bargaining system works — when the parties come to the table with reasonable expectations and a flexible, solution-oriented approach,” said BCPSEA public administrator Michael Marchbank said.

“We built some momentum very quickly,” CUPE B.C. spokesman Rob Hewitt said. “The government came our direction enough to meet in the middle and we found a solution.”

He said the union also secured increased hours for education assistants and standardization gains to extended health benefit plans.

Asked if the timing of talks amid the intensifying teachers dispute helped CUPE negotiators, Hewitt said only the teachers were not discussed at the table.

Also included is an Employee Support Grant covering any wages CUPE members lose by refusing to cross legal picket lines.

The union’s support for the B.C. Teachers Federation and teachers’ pursuit of long-term adequate funding for public education “hasn’t changed one iota,” CUPE B.C. president Mark Hancock said.

“Just as the teachers have been at our side as our members have fought for public education, we continue to stand with them.”

The deal running through to the summer of 2019 must still be ratified by union members.

As with other agreements, school support staff get further wage increases in the final four years of the agreement equivalent to half of any increase of provincial economic growth in excess of the budget’s forecast.

GDP growth of one per cent above the forecast in a given year would, for example, trigger a further 0.5 per cent pay hike.

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

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read