From left to right, Educational Assistants Ute Perry, Sylvia Sundby, Christine Gillies, and Maria, Mangiola on the picket line for CUPE Local 441 as talks break off between the school district and the union on Nov. 6, 2019. (Sophie Heizer/News Staff)

‘No option’ to fix pay parity at local bargaining table: SD63 superintendent

Superintendent Dave Eberwein said there is no more provincial funding to negotiate with

Job action in School District 63 (SD63) continues on Thursday after negotiations broke down between CUPE Local 441 members and SD63 late Tuesday night. SD63 Superintendent Dave Eberwein said Thursday morning the most frustrating part is the “campaign of misinformation” that there is more provincial money available to bargain with.

READ MORE: Talks break off between CUPE, SD63 as strike heads toward the end of day eight

“The provincial government won’t be putting any more money in the pot,” Eberwein said. “They have been very clear about that.” He said CUPE Local 441 President Dean Coates is giving “false hope” to union members.

Eberwein said the provincial government will not reopen the Provincial Framework Agreement under which the school districts, unions and employees negotiate pay and benefits just for Saanich because it would trigger what’s called a “me too” clause that means all other school districts in B.C. are entitled to have their frameworks reopened for negotiation.

“The only way this is going to be resolved is if CUPE ends the strike, comes back to the table and negotiates within the framework,” Eberwein said. CUPE Local 441 President Dean Coates said the current deal on the table is simply not good enough for CUPE members, parents or students. “It would still not address the actual problem which is retention and recruitment,” Coates said. “We would still have a mass exodus.”

Coates said CUPE Local 441 is asking for the provincial government to step in, given all they need to achieve pay parity for SD63 is $1-3 million, and that’s “peanuts” in a provincial budget. But Eberwein said there is “no option” to fix the pay parity issue at the local bargaining table.

Eberwein said there are two pools of money in play: the two per cent wage increases each year for three years plus benefits under the Provincial Framework Agreement, and money from the provincial Job Evaluation Committee, which is currently assessing pay and other disparities between similar jobs across the province.

READ MORE: Pay disparity at heart of Saanich schools strike has 45-year-old roots

Eberwein said the District has shuffled things around within its salary and benefits budget to increase wages more than two per cent each year for SD63 support workers, and that’s all they have the power to do. Coates said local CUPE members don’t think they should have to fund their own wage increases.

Eberwein said if funding SD63 pay parity with other local districts came from the Job Evaluation Committee, all other districts in B.C. could go to labour relations board and say the B.C. Public Shool Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) has negotiated in bad faith. “That is never going to happen,” Eberwein said.

There is provincial money in the Job Evaluation Committee project that will flow to Saanich to address the issue of pay parity, but it will take some time as it’s a lengthy and complicated process that looks at all provincial school districts.

Coates said everyone admits there’s a problem, everyone admits there’s a solution, but the provincial government will not fix it. “The District and the provincial government cannot profess to have a commitment to inclusive education if they won’t fund it,” Coates said.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

EducationEducation funding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Greater Victoria records highest unemployment in history with 11 per cent

Past peak was 7.8 per cent more than a decade ago, according to South Island Prosperity Partnership

Garth Homer Society in Saanich turns lemons into lemonade with online programs

Victoria disability organization sets up online programs and learning tools in wake of COVID-19

Human behaviour likely to deter birds from Esquimalt Lagoon, survey suggests

More Great Blue Herons spotted, fewer mallard ducks seen

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read