Workers at Buffalo Trail Schools smash UCP wage guidelines
EDMONTON – After eight years without wage increases, the 230-support staff at Buffalo Trail School Division have ratified a contract with wage increases well above the provincial government ‘mandate’ of 2.75% over three years.
Employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, negotiated ‘market adjustments’ of $3 per hour for almost all employees, as well as almost 6% wage increases in the second year of the contract. Many workers will receive wage increases of above 20% over the life of the contract, with some getting increases as high as 25%.
CUPE members voted 85% in favor of the contract.
Employee Joyce Baker gave credit to CUPE members who spoke out loudly when the school division tried to bargain a lesser deal.
“Our members wore purple shirts to protest the poverty level wages, they told us loudly and clearly they would not accept the UCP mandate,” said Baker. “Their work and determination spoke volumes and the school district had to listen.”
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said his union is facing similar battles at almost 30 other school districts around the province. He said school board workers are fed up with poverty level wages, but see this settlement as a sign of things to come.
“When workers fight back, we can and do win good settlements,” said Gill. “Even when fighting government’s that want to restrict wage increases to less than inflation – we can win. We just did.”
Gill said the average educational worker in Alberta makes $34,300 per year. The wages for educational assistants are even lower at $26,388 per year (about $20.58 per hour). Inflation has moved this wage to just below the Alberta poverty line of $26,550.
Per student funding in Alberta is lower than every other province in Canada. The number of students per educator is higher in Alberta than every other province.
Contact: Lou Arab