The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) has reached a tentative two-year collective agreement with unions representing 30,000 support staff in K-12 public schools.
The deal, involving the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and some smaller union locals, adheres to the provincial government’s public-sector wage freeze but includes provisions that will boost earnings in some cases. For example, educational assistants will receive an extra 46 minutes of pay per week, for a total cost of $7.5 million annually.
The agreement was negotiated quietly at a time when attention was focused on a bitter contract feud between the BCPSEA and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF). Those contract talks have been unproductive, and teachers have been protesting since September by refusing to write report cards, supervise students outside of instructional hours, attend staff meetings and perform certain administrative functions.
The two sides have been negotiating since March 1, but both report no progress.
In contrast, the parties involved in support-staff negotiations described those talks as collaborative and respectful. The framework agreement, which was announced today but still needs to be ratified by union locals, also includes $550,000 in new funding for a support staff education and adjustment committee.
The deal is from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. It includes a clause allowing re-negotiation if the government alters its net-zero mandate and accedes, for example, to the BCTF’s request for a significant salary increase.