Education sector negotiations are looking a lot like amateur hour and if the government doesn’t get up to speed very soon, it may end up wearing the mess.
What caused negotiations with CUPE education support workers to crawl to a standstill once again last week?
Is the province so preoccupied with nailing down a 10-year contract with teachers that it’s
neglecting its other unionized workers?
Maybe it’s a bureaucratic shambles caused by a perfect storm of election, cabinet shuffle, dismantling of B.C. Public School Employers Association and freezing out school trustees.
Whatever it is, a chaotic contract bargaining process may well lead to widespread school strikes in just a few weeks time.
Last week CUPE negotiators sat down with provincial negotiators to talk about pay raises — again.
The province says raises can only come from other savings. CUPE education support staff
negotiators brought funding proposals to the B.C. Public School Employers Association over 14 days of meetings months ago.
CUPE broke off talks in April out of frustration with BCPSEA’s insistence that they had no
direction or mandate to approve or reject those proposals.
Five months later, the employers’ association was gone — kind of.
The organization can’t be eliminated legally, but the province circumvented this inconvenience by replacing its entire board with Michael Marchbank, CEO of the Health Employers’ Association.
Part of his responsibilities as noted in a government press release is: “Ensuring that the collective bargaining undertaken by BCPSEA is aligned with the government’s education policy objectives and mandate.”
But just what is that mandate?
After meeting with CUPE last week, the newest negotiating team also told the union it has no direction or mandate from its employer — and at this point CUPE doesn’t even know who that is. The minister? The premier? The treasury board?
The provincial negotiator wouldn’t talk to us but issued a statement saying the meeting was merely “exploratory.”
Unsurprisingly, the months of talks with BCPSEA seems to have disappeared along with its board. The province should be embarrassed and it should ensure this slapdash process doesn’t punish students and parents come September.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.