A Message from the Superintendent - Update on CUPE Negotiations

We wanted to take a moment to provide a further update related to the current contract negotiations underway with our CUPE 441 support staff employees. 
 
The parties met on October 3rd with the assistance of mediator Grant McArthur to discuss the employer’s current proposals. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in reaching a mediated settlement. 
 
Wage disparity is a historical issue that does not impact all positions equally. It is an issue that we can only begin to address by applying larger percentage wage increases to those positions that have fallen the furthest behind in comparison to neighbouring school districts.  To address this important priority, our three concurrent proposals reflect larger percentage wage adjustments for Education Assistants; and for educational, secretarial, and administrative positions. The proposed offer maximizes any money that could be allocated from the Provincial Framework Agreement and the Collective Agreement and applies all new funding towards wages. To be clear, this would provide wage increases for all support staff in excess of 6% over the three-year term of the Agreement.
 
While the Union has requested that the Employer revisit the proposals to find additional funding, we cannot emphasize enough that all available funding, as per the Provincial Framework Agreement and the Collective Agreement, has been allocated to the fullest extent possible in our current proposals. 
 
Further, a number of the elements currently proposed are contained within the Provincial Framework Agreement, which requires the parties to ratify by November 30, 2019. In the event the parties are unable to reach a settlement and ratify the Collective Agreement by that date, the funding associated with the Provincial Framework Agreement will no longer be available.
 
We are deeply disappointed that the Union hasn’t been more receptive to what we believe to be a fair proposal, which distributes the maximized funding allocation in a rational manner and in line with the greatest wage disparity amongst employee groups. 
 
Currently the parties have a second mediation day scheduled and as a result we do not anticipate job action at this time. We look forward to the opportunity to meet once again with the Union and mediator Grant McArthur on October 22 and hope that the Union will recognize that the Employer has proposed a renewed Collective Agreement that equitably benefits all of the district’s valued support staff.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dave Eberwein, Superintendent of Schools
School District No. 63 (Saanich)