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Funding for tentative provincial CUPE agreement at issue
Canadian Union of Public Employees reached a tentative agreement with the B.C. Public Schools Employers' Association, but were still sorting through the details Thursday afternoon.
"We're still going through the proposals based on what we need to know,'' said Rob Zver, president of CUPE Local 606, which represents inside workers in Cowichan School District 79.
"There is a problem that the (provincial) government is not funding the proposed wage increases.''
How funding will be covered and to what degree budgets will be impacted was still being sorted out, Zver said during a break in meetings in Vancouver.
If the province is unable to provide funding, it's "what other areas are going to be affected that concerns me,'' said Zver.
The agreement pledges no concessions for CUPE workers, but if there are potential job losses that would change based on individual circumstances.
Zver still expected proceedings to conclude Thursday.
The Cowichan district is looking forward to having the situation settled, assuming everything finished according to plan.
"It gives us a point we can move ahead,'' said SD 79 secretary-treasurer Bob Harper. "That's the biggest thing for us.''
The district has two support unions, CUPE and the United Steelworkers.
There are 298 CUPE positions plus 171 casual employees within SD 79, with 120 USW positions plus 30 casuals. The casuals fill in when there is extra work or when a permanent employee is absent.
"One thing with Labour Relations, you know there will be an end to it,'' said Harper. "We're glad we can get to this point without job action.
"There's the stability. we certainly value the work our support employees do. We need them on our team.''
The basis of the Provincial Framework Agreement calls for a total 3.5% wage adjustment. There's a 1% wage increase retroactive to July 1, with another 2% raise on Feb. 1, 2014 and 0.5% on May 1, 2014.
The term of the agreement runs until the end of June next year and also includes the introduction of a pay-direct card for up-front drug expenses for virtually all locals.
Each CUPE local will now take the provincial agreement back to its respective tables for the conclusion of collective bargaining with school districts.
CUPE represents more than 27,000 education workers in the kindergarten through Grade 12 school system.