Support workers in the Cowichan Valley school district sign new collective agreements as schools set to reopen on Sept. 3. (File photo)

Cowichan Valley school support workers sign collective agreements

Province’s teachers still negotiating

The Cowichan Valley school district has ratified new collective agreements with its support workers just in time for the new school year.

The agreements with CUPE Local 5101 and United Steel Workers Local 1-1937 are in force until June 30, 2022.

Mediated talks between government representatives and the B.C. Teachers Federation to finalize a new collective agreement with the province’s teachers continue.

School board chairwoman Candace Spilsbury said she is grateful for the bargaining teams on all sides who worked hard towards achieving the collective agreements with the support workers.

“We firmly believe the agreements are in the best interests of our learners and our employees,” she said.

RELATED STORY: B.C. EDUCATION MINISTER SAYS FOCUS IS ON NEW CURRICULUM, FILLING ON-CALL TEACHER RANKS

Tara Brooks, president of CUPE local 5101, said that while bargaining can be a very challenging process, the union’s bargaining committee had a very respectful, meaningful and healthy round of bargaining discussions.

“All issues were thoroughly considered and I can say with confidence and satisfaction that both teams were fully present and participating elements in the successful outcome of a ratified agreement,” she said.

Dusty Palmer, the business agent for USW 1-1937, said the union is pleased to have concluded bargaining with the Cowichan Valley school district and looks forward to three more years of supporting the students and staff of the district.

During a press conference on Aug. 28, Education Minister Rob Fleming said parents and teachers can expect to go back to school on Sept. 3, even as negotiations with the B.C. Teachers Federation continue.

RELATED STORY: ‘PLENTY OF TIME FOR DEAL’: TEACHERS’ UNION EXPECTS KIDS BACK IN SCHOOL ON SEPT. 3

Fleming said he is confident a deal with the teachers will be struck, citing that 70 per cent of public sector union employees have had their collective agreements signed.

“I want to say we’re hopeful that the parties can find solutions and reach a deal,” Fleming said.

“I share the BCTF’s optimism that we can get to a deal.”

-With a file from Black Press

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