The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 441 has applied for mediation on behalf of K-12 members who work in the Saanich School District (SD63).
CUPE 441 represents nearly 500 K-12 support staffers who have voted to take job action if necessary, such as educational assistants, technical support, library techs, youth and family counsellors, clerical, custodial, grounds, maintenance, and transportation staff.
Dean Coates, president of CUPE 441, said in a statement that support staff in SD63 have been paid less than those who do the same work in the Sooke and Greater Victoria school districts. This has been an issue for about 40 years and has been brought up at every contract negotiation, he explained.
Saanich board of education vice-chair Elsie McMurphy said in a statement that they are hopeful productive discussions can continue with the assistance of a mediator.
“We greatly value our support staff and the school district has worked diligently to find creative solutions to help bridge the wage disparity of our most disadvantaged employees while working within the compensation mandate established by the provincial government for public sector bargaining,” McMurphy said.
According to McMurphy, the District has presented three concurrent proposals, all of which provide for way increases through a reallocation of funds. The proposals provide for wage increases beyond what is contained with the provincial framework agreement, which provides for general wage increases of six per cent over the three-year term of the agreement.
Coates noted they are asking for their needs to be met and for wages to match those of support staff in other districts on the South Island. CUPE 441 is losing staff to other regions because they can do the same job for “quite a bit more money,” he said.
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