Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - BC

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - BC

May 31, 2013 11:46 ET

CUPE K-12 workers pushed towards strike

NANAIMO, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 31, 2013) - School District 68 CUPE workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. This week the members of local 606 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees voted 89 percent in favour of job action after contract talks stalled.

The main issues are job security and wages. The contract for the 900 workers expired a year ago and the workers haven't had a wage increase since 2009. The average wage is $24,000/year.

CUPE Local 606 general vice-president Kelly Dunaway says the high support for strike action reflects the growing frustration among his members. "This provincial government has consistently underfunded our public school system over the past decade to the point where programs and services for our kids are on the chopping block," says Dunaway. "We are talking about the dedicated, professional CUPE education workers who keep our schools clean safe and inclusive and protecting the quality of public education in BC."

The strong strike mandate does not automatically mean there will be a strike and any job action must be preceded by 72-hour strike notice through the BC Labour Relations Board. CUPE locals in school districts across the province have been taking strike votes as the BC Public School Employers' Association admits it has no mandate from the provincial government to actually settle a collective agreement. Provincial-level talks ended in April. Virtually all 57 CUPE K-12 locals are expected to have passed strike votes by the end of June and the provincial CUPE K-12 Presidents' Council has said it is preparing for probable province-wide job action in the fall.

"The last thing we want to do is disrupt classes," says Dunaway, "but without a commitment from the province and School District 68 to actually negotiate a fair and reasonable contract, our options are quickly disappearing."

CUPE 606 represents bus drivers, education assistants, aboriginal education assistants, clerical staff, carpenters, welders, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, mechanics, gardeners, painters, caretakers, IS Department, supervision aides, crossing guards, library clerks, and printer/graphic technicians.

Contact Information

  • Kelly Dunaway
    CUPE 606 General Vice-president

    Kirk Oates
    CUPE National Servicing Representative

    Murray Bush
    CUPE National Communications Representative