Only one school district says no to CUPE costsOctober 17, 2013
It appears Kootenay Lake is the only board of education that refused to submit a report to government this week describing how it will pay for a CUPE pay increase.
The reports were due Tuesday.
Kootenay Lake trustees said they would not comply with the order because they could not make further spending cuts without hurting student services. Education Minister Peter Fassbender hasn’t yet responded publicly to this act of defiance.
Meanwhile, other boards of education say it will be a struggle to pay for the 3.5 per cent wage hike contained in a two-year framework agreement negotiated by the union and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association*. The deal covers CUPE members who work as education assistants, bus drivers and janitors.
As of Tuesday, seven CUPE locals had signed local contracts under the framework agreement.
*The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association no longer has an elected board of directors. In August, the government dismissed that board (most of whom were school trustees) and installed a public administrator, Michael Marchbank. The former directors were invited to remain as advisers.
In a story this week, the Chilliwack Progress says school trustees from around the province are upset about that move and worried about the direction of contract negotiations. “The government is stripping the power and authority of local school boards,” trustee Barry Neufeld is quoted as saying.
Some trustees fear school boards will also be expected to cover the cost of a future pay increase for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (although an August story by Lindsay Kines of the Victoria Times Colonist quotes Fassbender as saying government will cover any costs arising from a new deal with teachers).
BCTF negotiations are expected to resume this month. The government is pressing for a 10-year deal.