February 29, 2000, Kelowna CUPE Local 3523, representing 1200 school support staff in Kelowna have voted 85% in favour of taking strike action should that action become necessary to resolve a round of bargaining that has been ongoing for more than a year.
Bill Zeman, local 3523 president, noted that members of this local are becoming increasingly frustrated with their boards inability to resolve issues that allow school support staff to provide the kinds of services to students, their parents and teachers that they are hired to do and that strong school infrastructure requires of them.
“Were seeing an erosion of the kind of quality work we can deliver,” said Zeman, “because of insecurity around the continuity of jobs. Unfortunately, this school board does not seem to have the authority to make the decisions that might change the situation.”
CUPE 3523 is one of 47 locals that make up the CUPE K-12 Sectoral Bargaining Committee (SBC). Job security, benefits, pay equity, and pensions are the issues that are common to most locals in the SBC.
Gary Johnson, CUPE national servicing representative, welcomed the information that Kelowna has joined other locals in the Lower Mainland, the North, the Islands and the Okanagan in raising their voices to the issue that local boards do not have the authority to do what it takes to resolve local contracts. “They have handed their bargaining authority over to the provincial body, the BC Public School Employers Association, (BCPSEA)” said Johnson, “now its time for BCPSEA and the government to bring some resolution to the growing dilemma.”
Bill Zeman, President, CUPE Local 3523
Gary Johnson, CUPE national representative
Regular information updates regarding CUPE K-12 Sectoral Bargaining can be found at www.cupe.bc.ca/sbc