OLIVER — CUPE 523, K-12 support workers at School District 53 in Okanagan-Similkameen reached a tentative agreement after five sessions of bargaining that began in early June. The tentative agreement was reached Tuesday following a 14-hour bargaining marathon.
CUPE 523 Acting President Tammie Koroluk said that this round of bargaining was a new experience for the bargaining committee who is bargaining separately with the three districts represented by CUPE 523 for the first time (SD 53, SD 67, and SD 83).
“It’s definitely made things really interesting. Although there were lots of challenges, our bargaining committee rose to meet those challenges,” said Koroluk.
She said that the bargaining team worked really hard not only during the bargaining process, but in preparation leading up to it. “The bargaining committee worked diligently.”
CUPE 523 Okanagan-Similkameen Unit Chair Sean Harris was also impressed with everyone’s hard work. “We had our issues with the school district that we worked through. We had a great group of people on the CUPE side and we were able to work through to an agreement that met the needs of both sides,” said Harris, giving kudos to everyone at the table.
The tentative agreement also incorporates the provincial framework agreement approved by the K-12 Presidents Council in September. The current K-12 agreement expired on June 30, 2019. When ratified by CUPE locals and school district Boards of Trustees, the collective agreement will be in effect from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022.
Further details of the tentative agreement will not be available until after ratification by all parties. Ratification is expected to be completed in September.
CUPE 523 members, who provide a wide variety of services that support students, include Education Assistants, Grounds workers, Indigenous Support Workers, Bus Drivers, Custodians, Trades, Clerical, Maintenance, IT, Administrative Support, Supervision Assistants, and Youth Care Workers. They provide K-12 support services to students in Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Cawston, and Keremeos.
CUPE 523 is the only K-12 composite local in the province, representing K-12 workers in Okanagan-Similkameen (SD 53), Okanagan-Shuswap (SD 83) and Okanagan-Skaha (SD 67). In the past all three school districts bargained together but this year they are bargaining separately.