A new three-year collective bargaining agreement has been reached between School District 8 and the union representing over 400 support workers.
The deal between the district and CUPE Local 748, which was agreed to on Nov. 23 before being ratified Friday, includes wage increases of two per cent effective July 1 for 2019 to 2021. The new agreement ends June 30, 2022.
Superintendent Christine Perkins said she was “absolutely overjoyed” with how the talks ended.
“[I’m] very thankful to everybody who put the time in to get it done on both sides,” said Perkins.
“As far as the district is concerned we’re definitely delighted it has reached a positive conclusion.”
In a statement, CUPE 748 president Michelle Bennett said she thought the talks were among the most difficult she’s experienced.
“We could not have gotten to a collective agreement without our bargaining team,” said Bennett. “They were amazing.”
The agreement also includes a service improvement allocation of $63,430 for professional development, education assistants and overtime for bus drivers beginning on July 1, 2020.
CUPE 748 represents employees in roles such as youth care, Indigenous support, custodians, administrative support and educational assistance.
Ben Eaton, the district’s director of instruction for innovative learning who served as SD8’s spokesperson for the negotiations, said talks began in April ahead of the previous agreement expiring on June 30.
The process, Eaton said, took time in part because both sides had to work within the provincial framework that was approved in September 2018 by the Presidents Council, which represents approximately 34,000 support staff throughout B.C.
That framework, which included the three-year wage increases, had already been endorsed by the provincial government.
Eaton said negotiations mainly focused on how the service improvement funds would be used.
“There were very specific parameters as to how that money could be accessed,” said Eaton. “So in bargaining we had to come to agreement as to how those funds were to be allocated. It’s just a process.”
A mediator also joined the bargaining table in October, which Eaton said helped bargaining reach a conclusion.
“I think it really brought both parties together and identified what were the core issues that needed to be brought into the collective agreement.”