After a second round of bargaining talks broke off with a stalemate, a local education worker is feeling frustrated and ready to strike.
Cherryl MacLeod, education assistant and Local 1285 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) president, returned to her Castlegar home Tuesday after talks broke off in Vancouver over the weekend.
“It quickly became apparent that they are in a mode of wanting concessions,” said MacLeod. “I really had high hopes for an agreement this time around,” she said, adding, “but now I feel like we are being attacked.”
CUPE met with the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPC), the bargaining arm for the boards of education, last week hoping to negotiate a new contract for the 27,000 education workers in the K-12 education system.
CUPE is asking for “two and two,” which means a two per cent wage increase now, and to be paid retroactively to when the workers contract expired over a year ago.
“The government has offered us two per cent effective July 1, 2013,” explained MacLeod. “With the second two per cent on June 30, 2014, the day before the (proposed) contract would expire. They are not currently willing to pay us retroactively.”
In addition, BCPC is proposing to cut paid sick time by two thirds and cut sick pay by 15 per cent for the newest employees, said MacLeod.
“We don’t understand how that will work logistically and monetarily. We’ve asked for that costing to be available at our meeting next week.”
If the lack of progress for a settlement continues, CUPE’s 57 presidents will be meeting in Vancouver next Thursday.
“I hate say it but if those talks don’t go well, we will be figuring out strike action,” confirmed MacLeod.
CUPE represents school bus drivers, custodians, clericals, maintenance, tech and trades, education assistants, childcare and youth workers, and aboriginal education employees.