School District 20 support staff ratifies labour deal

New CUPE president counts deal as a success but fears further cuts

School District 20’s support staff have a new union president to fight their battle, following a recent election.

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1285 has voted in Roger Smith as its new president. Smith has been an executive member for just over four years and has acted as a local custodian for 24 years.

“I hope that I can fill the shoes that Cherryl (MacLeod) provided as president because I think she did an excellent job,” he said.

His first order of business was seeing that his 230 members voted to ratify the deal that resulted in a 3.5 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract. A vote held Thursday in Trail and Castlegar resulted in 93 per cent in favour, which came as both a surprise and relief to Smith.

The new deal between the BC Public School Employers’ Association and CUPE BC was reached mid-September after long negotiations. Though some strides were reached at the bargaining table, Smith is disappointed that school districts have to reach into its coffers to cough up the cash.

“I’m not happy that the government has decided not to fund any raises or increase in benefits themselves, that they’ve downloaded all the costs onto the districts,” said Smith. “Because the districts are already under a financial strain due to underfunding by the government.”

This demand from within will likely lead to further cuts, he said, that could again fall on CUPE members, which includes school bus drivers, custodians, clericals, maintenance, tech and trades, education assistants, childcare and youth workers, and aboriginal education employees.

While in office, Smith hopes to regain the trust of members, reign in spending and get members involved.

“We haven’t had a raise for four years and it (was) due but at the same time we’re the ones that are going to bear the brunt of it and I don’t believe that that’s a fair system and an unfair system has once again been set up by the Liberal government,” he said.

Over 20 years ago when he started, he said expectations were high and people took pride in their work. Over time, Smith has watched work quality and employee morale diminish as budgets were slashed.

He can speak directly to the custodial department, which he said has been cut down to 11 months and now follows a new level of cleanliness called “moderately dingy.” Deep ceiling to floor sanitization is no longer done and staff no longer goes in at Christmas or during the first week of spring break to maintain conditions, he said.

“We have employees who have been there as long as I have and longer whose attitudes have changed 180 degrees and part of it is it feels like a lack of respect,” he added.

He’s not laying blame on senior management or on trustees because he knows they too are feeling the pinch and just trying to do their jobs, which lately has been a real challenge.

To work within the 2013/1014 budget, superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach said the school board closed MacLean Elementary School and is finalizing the sale of it to Rossland’s French school to save a projected $265,000.

SD20 also used some one-time money to help continue some programming, made a reduction in clerical support at secondary schools and in the transportation department, reduced anticipated utilities cost by leasing out its Blueberry Creek site, reduced the usage of its Warfield satellite shop and sold the Sunningdale school.

The school district plans to move the district office out of the Fortis building by the end of December, has restructured its technology department and reduced the amount of technology being purchased for students to use.

Reductions have been made to administration, a lead hand allowance in its operations department has been eliminated and increased anticipated revenue from a number of sources (leases, sales from Old School Café in Castlegar and a surplus portable) have popped up.

“How the board balanced the 13/14 budget is not related to the CUPE deal,” confirmed superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach. “The board will need to find additional savings on top of all that was done  to balance the 13/14 budget.”

During the budget setting process, the board will determine exactly where the money will come from.

Just Posted

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read