CUPE Local 748 Strike Action Averted
School District # 8 (Kootenay Lake Schools) announced that they were able to conclude negotiations with CUPE Local 748, “and have ratified a negotiated agreement with our employees.”, in a statement on December 19, 2013.
“We value each of our employees and we are pleased that our relationship has been strengthened throughout what has ultimately been a very positive experience.” Jeff Jones, Superintendent of Schools/CEO said in a public statement.
“It was thanks to the dedication and solidarity of our members that we were able to achieve a settlement,” said Michelle Bennett, President of CUPE Local 748, when a tentative agreement was reached on December 13, with successful ratification on December 18.
The Board of Education ratified the CUPE Local 748 Memorandum of Agreement on December 17.
Earlier a, Provincial Framework Agreement (PFA) was negotiated by the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council Provincial Bargaining Subcommittee and the BC Government on September 18th.
CUPE negotiated a tentative Provincial Framework Agreement enshrined a 3.5% end-rate wage increase and a pay-direct card for up-front drug costs (BlueNet and Blue RX card). CUPE locals with existing drug cards and/or PharmaCare formulary as part of their extended health plan retain their same coverage, subject to local negotiations. CUPE also forced all sick leave cuts off of the table.
The PFA also provides CUPE education workers with new recognition and respect for education assistants.
Ratification of the PFA deadline was December 20 for all school district locals and put pressure on on all school district locals to conclude their contract negotiations with their respective school districts under the BC Government’s ‘cooperative gains mandate’ by the same date.
The BC Government’s ‘cooperative gains mandate’ presented a challenge for School District # 8 and CUPE Local 748 and other school districts in finding existing resources for the unfunded agreement. Burdened further with increased hydro rates, districts already struggling with more than a decade of underfunding from the BC government endeavoured to adopt cost savings plans required to find money to pay for the long overdue wage adjustment.