NEARLY 50 Coast Mountains School District (CMSD) school support staff workers staged an information picket outside of the school board offices on Kenney St. yesterday, part of a province-wide effort to put pressure on districts to return to the bargaining table.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2052 voted in favour of strike action earlier this week.
The local represents nearly 400 education assistants, clerical workers, maintenance staff, IT workers and other workers throughout the district.
“We are doing our job action today because negotiations have stalled with the board and with the government body for all CUPE support staff workers in K-12,” said Monica Brady, president of Local 2052. “We’re not disrupting any jobs at the board, we’re not disrupting your children’s education, its just to get the word out that we’re still here and we’ve been without a contract for a year.”
The picket lasted for an hour, and is the only one planned for Terrace.
“We would rather be at the bargaining table and negotiating than having to serve strike notice,” said Brady. “This is our one push at job action and then hopefully get back to the table along with the rest of the province.”
Similar job-actions have been occurring throughout the province for most of June. CUPE is looking for wage increases and job security pieces to be included in the next collective agreement, citing the fact its members have not had a wage increase since 2009.
“We want to get a settlement in line with the other public sector settlements,” said Bill Pegler, CUPE BC K-12 coordinator. “Our priority is to get a settlement and if that takes bargaining in the summertime, we’re happy to bargain in the summertime.”
Locally, CMSD board chair Art Erasmus says the district is also willing to return to the table.
“We’re ready to get together,” he said. “We’re basically waiting for them to give us a call to meet again and then we’ll be ready to meet again.”
He says the district hopes to explore savings that can be found throughout the contract, similar to what other public sector unions, like the nurses’ union, have done.
“The government hasn’t given the board any money that we can negotiate wage increases with,” he said.