The president of the union that represents custodial and trades staff at the largest school division in Winnipeg (Winnipeg School Division (WSD)), says the provincial government is inhibiting an important contract settlement that will prevent uncertainty and chaos for students and parents less than two weeks before schools reopen.

Members of CUPE 110 have been negotiating a new contract since their last contract expired in June of 2019, with wages being the only remaining issue to be settled. During bargaining, union negotiators dropped many of their original demands in order to avoid a strike and ensure that schools open on time.

“All we are asking for is a fair deal in line with what the teachers were awarded not only in the Winnipeg School Division but throughout the Province of Manitoba,” says Rick Peschel, President of CUPE 110.  “The Union has been very reasonable throughout negotiations, and only wants a fair deal for school support staff.”

“We are asking for the government to stop interfering with our collective bargaining,” says Peschel.  “Our members just want to go to work, but after being in the third year without a contract, they are feeling frustrated as it is evident that the school division is being pressured not to sign. Any strike action at this late date would cause chaos for parents and students.”

Last May, the WSD signed a four-year agreement with teachers that includes pay increases dating back to the 2018-19 school year, with a retroactive hike of 1.6 percent in that year, 1.4 percent in 2019-20 and 0.5 percent for 2020-21. The agreement also includes a cost-of-living increase for the 2021-22 school year.

“All we are asking is for the provincial government to allow collective bargaining to continue without interference. We just want fairness for the workers we represent,” says Peschel.

The bargaining unit for CUPE Local 110 represents approximately 400 custodial, maintenance, mechanics, tradespeople, painters, and technicians at the WSD, Manitoba’s largest School Division. Members of Local 110 are in a legal strike position after a recent strike vote that saw overwhelming support for strike action. The local is also moving forward with a public campaign to bring attention to the negative impacts on WSD custodial and trades staff due to the provincial government’s continued attempts to mandate wages for Manitoba school divisions.