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Tentative CUPE deal leaves Burnaby district seeking $1.5M in savings
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has reached a tentative deal for its school support workers, giving school districts a better idea of how much money they'll have to come up with.
CUPE's framework deal with BC Public Schools Employers’ Association, which has yet to be ratified, is for a 3.5 per cent wage increase over two years.
Paul Simpson, president of CUPE Local 379 which represents support workers in Burnaby school district, said he expects the local to hold a ratification vote within a month.
While the deal saw no direct concessions, Simpson noted that districts will have to find savings to pay for the pay hikes, which could ultimately mean some job cuts.
The provincial government had earlier indicated school districts would be expected to cover any CUPE wage increases negotiated, and Burnaby district had already started looking into potential cost savings in late August.
The contract is expected to cost Burnaby about $1.5 million by the time all the raises are fully implemented, said district secretary-treasurer Greg Frank. The contract expires June 30, 2014.
"We're working through it, we have to have a savings plan that we're going to have to send to the provincial government. We're doing that next week," said acting Burnaby school board chair Ron Burton on Thursday.
"But it's going to be tight, no question about it. It's not like we have a lot of money."
The district expects to have a surplus from last school year that it can apply towards the pay hikes, but Burton didn't have those figures available.
"There will be some cuts, hopefully it'll be minimal though."
All areas of the district's budget will be considered for cuts, but those farthest away from impacting classrooms "we'll be looking at the hardest, so the least effect on students."
Potential cost savings identified but not implemented during last spring's budget process will "definitely" be looked at again, Burton said.
He was satisfied with the deal. "CUPE they deserved a raise, they've gone a long time without a raise." Both sides started off with wishlists but concluded negotiations with a "bare-bones agreement, they got the job done."
Negotiations over a new teachers contract had been put on hold while the CUPE contract was being worked on, said Burton. The BC Teachers Federation and the province should be heading to the bargaining table in October.
Simpson said the province has been clear in its desire for a longer term deal with the teachers. As for why the CUPE's deal is for such a short period, he said, the union will head back to the bargaining table for the next contract in six to seven months.
"The bottom line is they want to see what happens with the teachers before they deal with us."