Wednesday April 23, 2014

School workers get tentative deal

Union members to vote Saturday on contract that includes 3.5 per cent increase over two years

School support workers and District 73 reached a tentative contract settlement on Tuesday, opening the door to possible union ratification later in the week.

CUPE Local 3500 members will vote on the proposed contract on Saturday, said local president John Hall.

The union bargaining committee has met several times with district negotiators since a provincial framework agreement was settled in late September in keeping with the provincial government’s co-operative gains mandate.

That framework covered provincewide issues, including wages, but still left individual union locals with the responsibility to hammer out their own specific contract requirements. It includes a 3.5 per cent wage hike over two years, but school districts must find savings within their budgets to cover the increase.

There were lots of local challenges, but Hall didn’t want to elaborate before taking the proposal to his members.

“The provincial framework agreement certainly wasn’t enough on its own,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to the members whether or not they’ll accept it.”

He hopes members will ratify the proposal for a quick turnaround so that the union can meet the government-imposed deadline of Dec. 20. The district’s bargaining committee must still obtain ratification from school board.

“Ultimately, our members deserved a lot more. We did the best we could under the circumstances. We’ll be right back at it in six months with some of the things that dropped off the table.”

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