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UPDATED: CUPE deal worth it but will cost the district — chair
A tentative province-wide deal for a two-year contract for CUPE support workers could cost School District 43 just under $1 million a year.
But chair Melissa Hyndes says the clerks, custodians and special education assistants deserve the raise if the deal is approved.
The tentative deal announced Thursday between the BC Public School Employers' Association and CUPE BC narrowly averted a strike that could have started as soon as Monday. The agreement provides a 1% increase effective July 1, 2013, 2% on Feb. 1, 2014 and 0.5% on May 1, 2014.
The deal — which would begin retroactively on July 1, 2012 — is set to expire on June 30, 2014.
Hyndes said the district has been told it will have to find $984,000 within its budget to cover the wage increases in 2012/’14 — a stretch after $12.1 million in cuts were already made.
"I can't say it's not going to involve more cuts next season, this is not a one-time thing," Hyndes said.
But she said the CUPE should have received a raise after going four years with no wage hikes.
"I firmly believe our employees deserve a wage increase, they've earned a wage increase," she said. "The government should have funded it, though; it should not be on the backs of school districts."
According to CUPE BC president Mark Hancock, the deal was reached without CUPE having to make any concessions.
"CUPE BC's 27,000 education workers are vital to keeping our schools clean, safe and inclusive," Hancock said in a statement. "I want to thank all 85,000 of our members across the province, and our K-12 members in particular, for their solidarity. It's only because we held together that we were able to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract, despite demands for concessions from the government."
He also thanked the BC Teachers' Federation for its support.
Both sides have yet to ratify the deal but CUPE is recommending it to locals, which also have issues to discus in negotiations with individual school districts.
Meanwhile, talks between the province and the BCTF are expected to resume in October. SD43's Hyndes said that agreement is expected to be funded from provincial coffers, not from existing school funding.