VSB Update - Calendar, Learning Improvement Fund, Bargaining

Friday, June 29, 2012

Over the past few months we have been working hard on several significant issues with the Vancouver School Board that we would like to report on.

School Calendar
Once again, due to chronic underfunding by the BC Liberal provincial government, the VSB was facing a $4.68 million shortfall for this school year. In order to mitigate cuts across the district the Board of Trustees voted to continue with the modified school calendar that has been in place for the last few years. The only change is that there is five closure days instead of ten. This measure saves the VSB approximately $500,000. As a result, CUPE 15 and the VSB have agreed to a Letter of Understanding (LOU) outlining conditions for members working under the modified school calendar. Key changes from last year’s LOU primarily relate to the required extra working minutes per day and the specific closure days. The following sets out the extra minutes:

• 12 month employees that work 7 hours per day - 8 minutes per day
• 12 month employees that work 7.5 hours per day - 9 minutes per day
• Term (10 month) employees that work 7 hours per day - 11 minutes per day
• Term (10 month) employees that work 6.5 hours per day - 10 minutes per day

The set closure days will be November 9, 2012 and March 25-28, 2013. Closure days for 12 month employees at secondary schools, the Education Centre, Workshop, SET BC, PRCVI, AT BC, CAYA, and the Vancouver Learning Network will be communicated no later than October 1, 2012.

Learning Improvement Fund
The Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) is one of the good news stories stemming out of the last round of negotiations. Negotiations in December of 2011 provided the first occasion when employers and the provincial government acknowledged formally CUPE’s longstanding claim that the Education Assistants perform unpaid work as a result of a flawed system. The Support Staff Learning Improvement Fund provided a total of $7.5 million per year on a going forward basis to deal with the issue of unpaid work. The money is allocated proportionately to the 59 signatory districts and signatory support staff unions. The VSB portion is approximately $740,000.

We have met with VSB representatives to determine how to apply the funds in Vancouver that comply with LIF guidelines. I am pleased to announce that we have reached agreement with the VSB to provide all SSA’s working 6.5 hours per day as of June 18, 2012 (558 positions) one additional paid hour per week. This equates to approximately $900 per year for CUPE 15 members. The extra one hour per week will be used for the purpose of consultation and collaborative meetings. Each school administrator will determine when the extra time will be worked in consultation with the applicable CUPE 15 member. As well as the additional time we have also reached agreement with the VSB to create three new permanent substitute positions. Any related workplace issues arising from the LIF roll-out should be raised with a CUPE 15 shop steward.

Bargaining Committee
Brothers Kenny Brett, Paul Hayes, Craig Hopkins, and Warren Williams and Sister Carley Romas were elected as our Bargaining Committee for this round of negotiations with the VSB. Sister Miriam Pulsifer was elected as the alternate. The bargaining committee met over the summer to prepare. This includes issuing a member bargaining priorities survey. CUPE 15 has already issued notice to the employer to commence negotiations. All other CUPE locals representing K-12 workers in BC are in the process of doing the same. Bargaining bulletins and other news are always posted on our website at cupe15.org. In addition we email news to members whose email address we have. If you would like this service please send your personal email address to email@cupe15.org.

In solidarity,

Paul Faoro

CEP Local 467-UW