Central Okanagan Public Schools support workers vented their frustration over stalled contract negotiations last weekend and in doing so the members of CUPE 3523 voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike vote.
In a CUPE press release, David Tether, a school support worker and president of CUPE 3523, described the school district position as “offering nothing to CUPE 3523 members but disrespect.”
Tether stated the school district is undermining services union staff provide by “pushing concessions that would erode working conditions and job security of school support workers.”
With the strike vote in place, Tether said the union’s bargaining committee has not set a strike deadline, saying they remain committed to reaching a fair collective agreement at the bargaining table.
Both sides agreed last Friday to seek mediation efforts to try reach an agreement, while Black Press Media previously reported that the CUPE contract agreement deadline of Jan. 25, set by the provincial government for all school districts could be extended.
“Since we started bargaining in October, School District 23 has been unwilling to put in the work to reach a fair deal. They have cancelled bargaining sessions, come unprepared to have serious discussions, and refused to agree on any proposals,” said Tether.
“CUPE 3523 is serious about reaching a fair agreement that respects school support workers and will let us keep serving Central Okanagan public school students.
“Time is running out for School District 23 to show they are serious too.”
Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO, added the mediation approach was suggested by the school district and agreed to by the union.
“There is goodwill on both sides to try and get a deal through mediation,” Kaardal said.
CUPE 3523 represents more than 1,400 members supporting Central Okanagan Public Schools in Peachland, Lake Country, West Kelowna, Kelowna and the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
They work in 46 schools in various job capacities such as education assistant, ground worker, Indigenous support worker, bus driver, custodians, maintenance worker, information technology support, clerical worker, administrative support, noon-hour supervisor, library assistant and early childhood educator.