Bulletin – Standing in Solidarity with BCGEU

Late last week, the BC Government and General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) issued strike notice on behalf of their members who work in the provincial public service.

Yesterday, they began picketing at four liquor distribution centers: one in Victoria, one in Kamloops and two in the Lower Mainland. They are striking for better wages and cost of living protections, both critically important given increasing costs we are all experiencing.

Our own provincial bargaining, as the K-12 Provincial Bargaining Committee, is still set to resume September 13-15. We expect at that time to resume negotiations to achieve a new provincial framework that improves the wages and benefits of school support workers and allows us to provide the best possible services to students in British Columbia.

We encourage locals and members to show their support for striking BCGEU members. You can do this by sending messages of support or joining a picket line.

Currently the BCGEU is taking job action at these sites:

Delta Distribution Centre (DDC) – 7003 72nd Street, Delta, B.C.
Kamloops Distribution Centre (KDC) – 9881 Dallas Drive, Kamloops, B.C.
Richmond Distribution Centre (RDC) – 3389 No 6 Rd, Richmond, B.C.
Victoria Wholesale Customer Centre – 2291 Government Street, Victoria, B.C.

If the BCGEU escalates job action to additional job sites, CUPE will be informed and pass that information on to members.

Updates on BCGEU bargaining can be found at https://www.bargainingbc.ca/

View PDF here.

Bulletin – Thank you to all school support workers

With summer upon us, the K-12 Presidents Council would like to thank all school support workers for their exemplary service through another challenging school year. As the pandemic continues, your dedication and professionalism are to be commended.

Thanks to your work, students and families have been able to depend on clean and healthy schools being open and providing high quality public educations throughout this school year.

Bargaining update

We of course also thank you for your solidarity and support as we’ve been bargaining with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association towards a renewed provincial framework agreement.  We thank everyone who helped guide our bargaining priorities by taking part in our provincial bargaining survey, and for all the work being done at the local level to mobilize our members towards fair collective agreements. We also thank our provincial bargaining committee, and all of the local bargaining committees too, for their hard work and dedication.

We remain committed to continuing our bargaining with the BCPSEA.  We recently scheduled dates for a return to provincial bargaining – September 13-15, 2022.

We remain hopeful a provincial framework agreement centred on a fair wage settlement can be reached that reflects the value and importance of our work to students, families, and communities.

In the meantime, K-12 locals are encouraged to continue preparing for local bargaining and building member mobilization efforts in support of our bargaining committees. CUPE continues to work closely with our union allies to achieve fair contracts for all public sector workers, who have been on the frontlines serving our province every day throughout the pandemic.

New video highlighting our work

The K-12 Presidents Council is also pleased to be releasing a new video highlighting the work our members do in school districts across the province. Produced with support from the national union, this 2-minute animated video shows the many crucial jobs our members do, and how important they are to providing quality public educations for students in B.C.

You can watch this new video on our website bcschool.cupe.ca, and on our social media channels – @CUPEK12BC. Please share this video in your communities.

Radio ads

During June, the K-12 Presidents Council has been running radio ads throughout B.C., shining a light on the invaluable work our members do in communities across the province. The radio ad, being carried in every community with a local represented in the K-12 Presidents Council, highlights the crucial role school support workers play for students and families, and the challenges facing our members.

You can hear the ad on your local radio stations, and it is posted on our Facebook page – facebook.com/CUPEK12BC. Please share with your family, friends, and neighbours.

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Bulletin – Paid sick leave for all K-12 members

All workers in the province are now provided with five days of paid sick leave off work – including unionized workers under a collective agreement – under new changes to the Employment Standards Act, as of March 31,2022. This means that all K-12 members – including casual, temporary, and probationary workers – should be entitled to paid sick leave, regardless of the language in your collective agreement.

Locals should be aware of the details of this new benefit so they can ensure employers are implementing it properly and are prepared to bring grievances when necessary.

Below are a few key items to be aware of:

  • Employees become entitled to the paid leave after 90 days of continuous employment. That calculation is based on time as an employee, rather than number of days worked. So, an employee hired in early September would become eligible for sick leave starting in early December of that year, regardless of how many shifts are worked in that time.
  • Each employee is entitled to five paid days per ‘calendar year.’ Those days are not pro-rated based on when an Employee begins work. So, an employee who is hired in the latter half of a year would still be entitled to the full five days before December 31st.
  • Employees who receive an additional percentage of their wages ‘in lieu’ of benefits are also entitled to paid sick leave and will continue receiving their full ‘in lieu’ pay.
  • Pay for a sick day is calculated based on the average of the employee’s earnings over the past 30 days, excluding overtime. Note that this may be different than what an employee would have earned if they had worked their scheduled shift. In some cases, employees may be entitled to more than what they had earned if they worked the shift if, for example, in the last 30 days they had worked longer shifts, had worked in a higher paying position, or earned certain shift premiums. Unions should be ready to examine the amount paid for sick leave to ensure that it is at least the average of what the employee had recently earned.
  • Be aware that this calculation for sick pay applies to all employees – including those who had entitlements to paid sick leave under the collective agreement. For the first five sick days in the year, all employees (including regular employees) should be paid either the ‘average day’s pay’ calculation, or the normal pay under the collective agreement – whichever is greater.

If you have questions about this new benefit, please contact your steward or local representative.

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Bulletin – Updated Communicable Disease Guidelines

The Ministry of Education has issued a new update to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings. The updates reflect current Provincial Health Officer orders and guidance from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. This update is effective Saturday April 16 to allow time for planning before the Easter long weekend.

This update continues the transition to sustainable communicable disease management. The key changes include:

Health Awareness: an updated approach to daily health checks, with a focus on students, staff and visitors staying home if they are sick. Before coming to school, everyone should be checking regularly they are not experiencing symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms).

Space Arrangements: schools can resume to use classroom and learning environment configurations and activities that best meet learner needs and preferred educational approaches.

A focus on personal practices, including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, respect for personal space, not sharing food, beverages or other items that come in contact with the mouth, support for those who choose to use a mask, and daily health awareness.

As of April 8, school gatherings and events can return to 100 per cent capacity.

Further, as of April 8, showing the BC Vaccine Card or proof of vaccination is no longer required. However, individual businesses and organizations can choose to continue to require the BC Vaccine Card on their premises. Schools should continue to contact venues as part of event or field trip planning to understand what requirements may be in place.

Updated information is available on the COVID-19 safe schools web page.

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Bulletin – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Last year marked the first time September 30th – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – was recognized as a federal statutory holiday. The Province of B.C. made a public commitment to engage Indigenous Peoples on how to best observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation followed by engagement with stakeholders in key business sectors.

As the province continues consultations with Indigenous peoples, it is advising all public sector employers, including K-12 public schools, that the same process should be followed as last year. September 30 should again be observed as a statutory day for remembrance this year for those employees who are normally entitled to federal and provincial statutory days.

The Ministry of Education has advised school districts that in recognition of the province’s approach and based on collective agreement provisions granting federal statutory holidays to some district staff, districts should plan that schools will not be in operation on that day.

Front facing dash cameras on school buses

The CUPE BC K-12 committee has investigated provincial funding for front facing dash cameras on school buses. The following information may be helpful for CUPE locals interested in advocating for front facing dash cameras as a way of increasing safety for students and bus drivers.

School districts have access to funding to replace buses when they reach a certain age or mileage through  Ministry of Education’s Bus Acquisition Program (BUS), within the Minor Capital Programs.

Replacement funding for buses includes between $7500 and $10,000 for additional options that school districts can select. One of these options is front facing dash cameras, which cost approximately $2500 – $3500.

It is a school district’s decision which options to select. The Ministry of Education has been informed by the Association of School Transportation Services of B.C. that approximately 80 per cent of new bus purchases include camera systems, either internal or external. It is up to school districts which options they choose to select.

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