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

Totem pole, doors unveiled in historic collaboration between Nuxalk Nation and BC Parks

The ceremonies took place in traditional Nuxalk territory (Stuix) - also the home of Tweedsmuir Park

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north coast First Nations

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Local artist Danika Naccarella commissioned to design artwork for Northern Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf symbolizes family, loyalty and the protection of those travelling their waters.

Pigs crash yoga class in B.C.

First it was goats, now it’s pigs — you can get downward dog with the whole farm in Aldergrove

Mexican bird makes a rare appearance in Bella Coola

The Northern Crested Caracara was spotted galavanting around Bella Coola for several weeks

Judge dismisses DNA request in Cranbrook triple murder case

Dean Christopher Roberts must appeal directly to the federal Minister of Justice, reads ruling.

Yes, we could use a soft drink tax

NDP rejects useful tax advice because it’s not popular

Canada sweeps China in Pacific Rim Basketball Classic

National men’s team beats China twice over weekend in Vancouver and Victoria

Rainbow crosswalk in B.C. defaced 10 days after installation

Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk has been defaced sometime over the weekend

Closing arguments expected in trial for twice convicted Canadian killer

Crown, defence expected to give closing arguments in Millard murder trial

Canadians undertake the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission

A dozen Canadian peacekeepers arrive in Mali as yearlong mission begins

Most Read