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February 25, 2000, Nelson The CUPE bargaining committee for 500 members of Local 748, Kootenay Lake will ask their members for a mandate to strike should that action be necessary in the near future.

The decision to take a strike vote comes after bargaining with the employer, School District 8 reached an impasse yesterday (February 24).

“In all honesty,” said Rick Korens, President of CUPE 748, “it became obvious to us that our employer really does not have the authority to resolve our key issues.”

Korens local is a member of the CUPE K-12 Sectoral Bargaining Committee (SBC). The local, along with most other members of the committee have been trying to resolve key issues including, job security, pay equity, benefits and pensions with their employers. But Kootenay Lake, like many other school districts no longer has the authority to make decisions on issues such as job security, benefits and pensions, because they have both financial and policy implications. That responsibility remains with the BC Public School Employers’ Association.

“The areas that are sticking points for us,” says Korens, “are issues that have to be resolved by the governments agents.” Korens, like many other local presidents is frustrated with the current system and frustrated with the fact that CUPE members are the scapegoats of every school board budget exercise.

“If they are looking for money, they look to CUPE jobs and services to find it. Although there has not been a strike here for 22 years, it is becoming clear that our members are going to have to stand up for their jobs and the services we provide. And it looks like it might take a strike to truly show that things must change.”

Gary Johnson, CUPE national representative and SBC co-ordinator is not surprised at the news that Kootenay Lake’s bargaining reached an impasse. “How could bargaining not reach an impasse,” said Johnson. “The school boards dont have the authority to settle real agreements on real issues with their front-line support staff. Its time for the government to make working conditions fair for these dedicated workers who provide the backbone in support services to students, teachers, parents and administrators.”

Rick Korens, President CUPE Local 748
(250) 354-8792
Gary Johnson, CUPE National Representative
(604) 219-3703

Regular information updates regarding CUPE K-12 Sectoral Bargaining can be found at www.cupe.bc.ca/sbc.

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