Friday, December 16, 2022

Breakdown in contract negotiations has SD52 support staff union considering its options for the New Year

The SD52 Board of Education Office in Prince Rupert 

The union which represents a range of support staff workers at School District 52 has expressed its disappointment at the status of contract negotiations, which saw talks break off earlier this week.

IUOE 882B which represents Education Assistants, Secretaries, Custodians, Bus Drivers, IT staff, Library Assistants, School Meals Program workers, Maintenance and Trades staff at Prince Rupert School District 52 , outlined its shock at the turn of events in what they describe as several months of progress on a range of issues.

The two sides had previously held bargaining sessions in October and this month, the most recent negotiations ending on December 14th, with the School District subsequently applying to the British Columbia Labour Relations Board to seek out the services of mediator.

In their statement of Wednesday, the Union observed:

"We had already resolved most monetary and other issues over several months of negotiations and expected to be able to reach a new collective agreement, but suddenly the Employer's Bargaining Committee walked out over a work scheduling issue.

This is unreasonable and irrational ... 

We simply cannot understand SD 52's confrontational approach to what is an important issue to our members that can be resolved at the bargaining table. 

IUOE members at School District 52 want a new contract in place in a fair and timely manner and the aggressive actions of the School District has thrown negotiations out the window."

What Adrian David, Business Manager of IEUOE Local 882 called an unexpected development over a non-monetary issue, has made for a change in the labour temperature that  has given cause for the union membership to consider taking job action in January.

The Business Manager also observed of the timing of the end of negotiations

"It is particularly unfortunate that SD 52 has caused concern and anxiety for our members just before the Christmas holiday break - there is no reason we can't reach an agreement quickly and I urge SD 52 School Trustees to direct their Bargaining Committee to get back to the table immediately.

Our members want to be back at school helping students in January, not considering job action because of SD 52's intransigent behaviour,"

There has yet to be a public statement issued by SD52 officials towards the status of negotiations, the NCR has attempted to gain some guidance on the issues from the School District but have not as of yet received a reply.

The two sides are negotiating as part of the Provincial Framework Agreement for support staff, the deadline that is in place to reach a fully ratified agreement is listed as January 25, 2023.

The North Coast Labour Council, which includes the IUOE local in Prince Rupert as one of its members offered up a short note to the prospect of a labour dispute.

With NCLC President Teri-Lyne Huddlestone hoping for a quick resolution:

"This is the first I had heard about the issues with the IUOE. It is unfortunate when it gets to that point. We hope that negotiations will resume soon. Likely in the new year now that Christmas is fast approaching."

More notes on education on the North Coast can be reviewed here.

Labour themes in the region can be explored here.

1 comment:

  1. Our students rely on the work done by SD52 support workers. Education assistants help students one on one and provide support to all students as needed. Secretaries essentially run the schools and are a link between schools and families. Maintenance staff keep schools safe and operational. Custodians are essential and keep schools safe and clean. Many SD52 support staff are barely above the poverty line, especially education assistants whose short hours make it nearly impossible to make ends meet. Schools cannot function without these workers and they deserve good pay and fair hours.