Empty classroomAfter extensive negotiations, CUPE 4875, the union representing education support workers at North East School Division, regrets to announce that a bargaining impasse has been reached. The union and the school division will be undertaking mandatory mediation as per the Saskatchewan Employment Act.

Two tentative agreements were rejected by the membership. The biggest outstanding issue is wages, and the recruitment and retention issue many classifications are facing.

“Education support workers play an invaluable role in our education system, providing vital assistance and support to students and teachers alike. It is disheartening that their dedication and hard work have not been adequately recognized, with years passing without a significant wage increase,” said Debbie Dufault, President of CUPE 4875 and an education assistant with the North East School Division. ‘With the rising cost of living, our current wages are untenable and undermines the vital contributions these workers make to the success of our schools. We are seeing an impact on our ability to recruit and retain staff. Why work as a certified educational assistant for North East School Division for $21.42 an hour when you can go do the same job at Sask. Rivers School Division for $27.08?”

CUPE 4875 firmly believes in fair compensation for education support workers. Over the last ten years, wages have been stagnant. Between the rising cost of living and years of meager wage increases, education support workers have experienced a loss of purchasing power of 10 percent.

“CUPE 4875 remains committed to engaging in constructive dialogue with the North East School Division in order to reach a fair and equitable resolution. We are eager to resume negotiations with a skilled mediator and find a path forward that recognizes the value of education support workers and addresses our long-standing wage concerns,” said Janice Janzen, CUPE National Representative.

CUPE 4875 wants to assure parents and students that there is no threat of job action in the near future, though a strike vote may be considered if mediation fails.

“We urge parents, students, and the broader community to stand in solidarity with our education support workers and support their right to fair compensation. Together, let us work towards a solution that ensures a sustainable and thriving education system for all,” concluded Dufault.