Union local skeptical of proposed deal

NANAIMO – Resident of the union representing education support workers has reservations about a tentative proposal with the province.

The president of the union representing Nanaimo education support workers has reservations about a tentative agreement with the province.

A framework proposal was announced Thursday between B.C Public Schools Employers’ Association, the bargaining agent representing B.C. boards of education, and the bargaining team of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which unanimously endorsed the deal.

The deal is retroactive to July 1, 2012 and runs until June 30, 2014 with a one-per cent wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2012, a two-per cent increase on Feb. 1 and a 0.5-per cent increase on May 1 for a total 3.5-per cent increase.

Rob Zver, president of CUPE Local 606, said the deal isn’t done yet, as it has to be brought to the local table and negotiations with Nanaimo school district must take place before the collective bargaining process is complete. He said he wonders where the money for the wage increases will come from.

“My initial reaction is there’s no funding from the provincial government, which means it still goes on to the ability of the boards to pay and we’re not quite sure how that will look local by local,” Zver said. “How are the boards going to pay if the province is not providing additional funding? The government … didn’t provide locals with any additional funding so the board’s ability to pay means what then will be lost? What kind of services may we might not [be able] to provide?”

Some school boards might have the ability to provide wage increases based on surplus funding this year but Zver wondered about the year after.

Phil Turin, secretary-treasurer for Nanaimo school district, estimated that the cost of the wage increase would be $554,000 for 2013-14 (calculated at a blended rate of 1.9 per cent) and $1.1 million for 2014-15 and beyond, which he said is the estimated cost of the 3.5-per cent annual increase.

“We will need to find sustainable savings from non-core services in our budget and will probably use some of the budget savings from the school closures,” Turin said.

CUPE Local 606 represents bus drivers, caretakers, maintenance, clerical, educational assistants, noon-hour workers, child and youth care workers in Nanaimo.