Negotiated contract could cost $350K

Local school district and CUPE union reach agreement

CUPE local 593 and the Mission school district have come up with a memorandum of agreement after a day of talks last week. Details of the agreement will not be publicized until it has been approved by the province and local CUPE members, who are expected to vote on the settlement Nov. 12.

“We’ve certainly followed the guidelines [of the provincial framework reached in September] and took them into consideration,” stated Edie Heinrichs, board chair, Mission Public Schools.

“The bargaining committee feels happy with the progress and agreement reached,” said George Forsythe, president of CUPE local 593. “We’ll be recommending acceptance of the agreement.”

All non-monetary issues were dealt with in March locally, and the Provincial Framework Agreement included a 3.5 per cent wage increase over three years, from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014.

Mission school board is calling a meeting with representatives from the B.C. ministry of education to discuss how the district can fund such increases.

Last year school district 75 had a $3.9 million deficit on the books and every dollar saved goes into the repayment plan, explained Heinrichs. “How do we pay for these raises?”

The CUPE wage increases are expected to cost about $350,000 for the local school district.

Both Forsythe and Henirichs say the province should be picking up the tab for the wage increases, similar to the arrangement made for the BC Teachers Federation.

“CUPE bargains locally, but the government took over and gave them a raise,” explained Mission school board vice chair Jim Taylor. “Now we’re being told to fund this.”

School districts across the province have been given a list of suggested cuts, but neither Heinrichs or Taylor would elaborate on what the proposed reductions are or if any will be made in Mission.

“We haven’t just cut (services) to the bone; we’ve done amputations,” said Taylor, adding the district is projected to be back in the black in 2015. “We can save again then, but not if the province keeps spending for us.”

There are more than 440 CUPE members in the Mission school district. Members include supervision assistants, trades people, custodians, bus drivers and other support staff.