School division support staff accept new agreements, avoid strike before start of the school year

School support staff at the River East Transcona School Division and Prairie Rose School Division have tentatively accepted a new collective agreement, while clerical, IT, and library techs at Seven Oaks School Division ratified a new agreement last night.

These school divisions have avoided a strike that could have begun as early as this week, says CUPE.

“Hours before support staff were to begin a legal strike, the River East Transcona School Board agreed to settle a fair contract with its workers,” says Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director.  “We thank all staff and the Board of Trustees at River East Transcona School Division, Prairie Rose, and Seven Oaks School Division for working hard to achieve a fair deal, especially with the provincial government’s continued efforts to hold school support staff back.”

Brandon School Division (CUPE 737) has also recently achieved a new collective agreement following a strong strike mandate from staff.

While the provincial government has said it will not pursue Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act, they have yet to fill the funding gap created by underfunding in the education sector and the phase-out of the education property tax or repeal their wage freeze mandate.

The new agreements between CUPE and River East Transcona School Division, Seven Oaks School Division, Prairie Rose School Division and Brandon School Division ensure school support staff receive raises that are consistent with those recently negotiated by other CUPE Locals and other unions in Manitoba, including the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, and are retroactive:  1.6% in 2019, 1.4% in 2020, and 0.5% in 2021 and cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2022.

“CUPE school support staff have been leaders in pushing for fair wage settlements, despite the provincial government’s attempts to undervalue their worth,” said McLeod.  “We hope other school divisions follow suit and recognize what parents and the community already know: school support staff are the pillars of our education system and deserve fairness.”

Other school divisions represented by CUPE that have reached agreements outside the province’s attempted mandate includes St. James-Assiniboia School Division, Sunrise School Division, Interlake School Division, Evergreen School Division, and Turtle River School Division.  CUPE thanks the Boards of Trustees of all these school divisions for their leadership in advance of the new school year.

Seven Oaks School Division custodians and bus drivers will hold a ratification meeting next week.

Negotiations are ongoing in other school divisions, including Pine Creek, Portage la Prairie, and Park West School Division where CUPE-represented support staff currently have strike mandates.

Custodians, trades, and maintenance staff at the Winnipeg School Division are also currently in a strike position and could set up picket lines in the coming weeks if the Board continues to prevent a fair settlement in line with other divisions.