Strained and protracted contract negotiations resume next week for the Kamloops-Thompson School District’s support staff as union workers head into their 28th month without a settlement.
CUPE local 3500 has had 700 employees without a contract since June 2010. Its representatives and employers are meeting on Oct. 12 for the first time since last June to recap where the two sides are at and set future dates for talks.
It’s none too soon for the union, whose workers’ patience is wearing thin, said John Hall, the local’s president.
“We’re going to have to get a good sense of (progress) out of this meeting because it has gone on long enough,” said Hall.
Negotiations need to be wrapped up quickly if they want to avoid job action, said Hall.
“We’re not looking at December and January (for future meeting dates). We’ve got to get back to the table, and seriously and quickly, or else we’ll have to do something else,” he said.
“I’m not afraid of a strike vote but I’m not rumbling about it. The members will tell me what they want. We always want to try the diplomatic route first.”
The union has felt put off by the district while trying to set dates for meetings, said Hall. But district Supt. Terry Sullivan characterized the criticism as “unfair.”
“We’re anxious to meet with the local and we’re anxious to conclude a collective agreement,” he said. “We both have had difficulties with arranging meeting times. Sometimes due to the availability of the local negotiating team and sometimes it was as a result of the availability of our group.”