As the mid-December deadline for reaching settlements between school districts and its non-teaching Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) support staff looms large, many districts in the province have yet to come to terms with the budget adjustments necessary to fund the wage increase.
A recent media release by CUPE reports that only eight of B.C’s 60 local school districts have reached agreements with the union.
Darrel Ganzert, chair of School District 20, feels that the local discussions are on track for the short and the longer term to be able to cover the costs of the agreement negotiated by the provincial government with CUPE.
“We’ve been able to find a modest surplus that we could dig into for this year,” said Ganzert.
“For the future we will be able to submit a budget that meets government requirements.”
SD 20 was required to find over $130,000 in savings for the current year and almost $250,000 per year for the remainder of the contract to cover the 3.5 per cent raise agreed to by the province.
School districts were required to have the current year’s increase funded by Oct. 15 with negotiations for the remainder of the contract to be completed in December.
“They (CUPE) came to us with a fairly large package but in our district the wages are settled,” Ganzert said.
“There are still some other issues we’re working on and we’re looking at potential cuts in jobs to be able to meet budget requirements in the future.”
The Provincial Framework Agreement negotiated by the B.C. Government and education workers provides for a 1 per cent wage increase on July 1, 2012 (retroactive), 2 per cent on February 1, 2014, and 0.5 per cent on May 1, 2014.
“CUPE will continue working with school board trustees in calling on the provincial government to adequately fund B.C. Schools,” Mark Hanson, CUPE BC President, said in a press release. “After negotiating this deal with education workers, it is reasonable for the provincial government to adjust its budget to protect the vital services education workers provide.”
The agreement covers school district employees working in custodial, clerical, maintenance, and education assistant staff represents 85,000 employees in the province.