LETHBRIDGE – Bargaining between the Livingstone Range School Division and over 100 non-teaching employees produced little progress and left the union frustrated at the inaction of school trustees.
The employees, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), include teaching assistants, custodial workers, bus drivers and administrative staff. The union recently voted 88% in favour of a strike.
CUPE Alberta President D’Arcy Lanovaz said the employer offered 9% in wage increases over five years.
“While the wage offer was far too low, our major concern remains the fact the school district still wants to make most employees casual and to contract out almost every job in the schools.”
Lanovaz said that the problem is a lack of involvement in negotiations by elected school trustees. Trustees are using a Calgary based negotiator with a reputation for hard line tactics.
“In Lethbridge, the school trustees were at the bargaining table and we had a deal in six hours,” said Lanovaz. “At Livingstone Range, the trustees are hiding and pretending they have no responsibility.”
“What trustees have to learn is that they are running a school district, not a student council,” said Lanovaz.
There are no scheduled dates for bargaining, but the union is open to negotiating over the summer.
“We will meet with the school division as long as it takes to get a deal,” said Lanovaz. “But if there isn’t a settlement by the end of summer, the school opening is may be severely disrupted by a labour dispute.”