New Bargaining Sessions Scheduled for CUPE workers

Staff, teachers and parents of public-school kids can breathe a sigh of relief because CUPE-BC is headed back to the negotiation table.

Until last week it looked like they were headed in the opposite direction. With just three weeks left until school started, CUPE-BC had announced the breakdown of talks between the union and government on August 13.

Almost all of the union’s 57 locals had already voted yes for possible job action when schools reopened if summer negotiations failed. A support staff walkout — including custodians, education assistants, secretaries and bus drivers — that would shut down classes seemed imminent.

But new bargaining sessions scheduled for Sept. 4-6 have put that crisis on hold thanks to the intervention of Peter Cameron, government’s spokesperson for both the support workers’ and teachers’ provincial bargaining tables.

“Cameron [has] given us an indication that they’re going to have something different for us. So we are prepared to give them the opportunity to explain what that might be and consider,” said Bill Pegler, CUPE-BC’s national rep.

Pegler says the union still hopes for a negotiated settlement, but they’re on strike alert in case bargaining stalls again.
With only three days of bargaining scheduled, there’s a lot riding on these talks. At best a negotiated settlement could foretell positive negotiations with the teachers’ union this fall.

But at worst the move only delays support workers’ strike long enough to get through the first week of back to school before kids are sent back home because of a strike.

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