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

North Island students release salmon fry

180 students from kindergarten to grade seven partipcated in the program

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Port McNeill gets yarn bombed

Colourful crochet creations pop up all over town

Port Hardy Council approves construction of the Multiplex project

Goahead given to “phase one” of the process

Pacific Coastal Airlines in the hot seat at council meeting

Boothroyd noted Pacific Coastal Airlines “Give is larger than the size of our footprint.”

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

BREAKING: Cassie Sharpe adds world championship to Olympic gold

Mount Washington skier defends her crown in France, wins overall halfpipe title

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

Most Read