Custodial and other support staff at the Calgary Board of Education have negotiated a 7.75% wage increase over the course of this school year. The 800 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 40 (CUPE 40) ratified the deal on Saturday.
CUPE 40 President Clay Gordon says the deal is better than the provincial government’s initial wage offer of 2.75%. Workers will get a 5% wage increase retroactive to the beginning of the school year, and a further 2.75% upon ratification.
The average support staff wage in Alberta is just $34,300 per year.
“After eight years without a wage increase, it’s still not enough,” said Gordon. “But it’s what we could get, and we will be back to the negotiating table when this deal expires in August. So we will be asking for more to make up for lost time.”
Gordon said his members deserve credit for making ‘a lot of noise’ about how unhappy they were with their low wages. “We had purple shirt days, rallies, demonstrations, letters and other ways to make the government understand we need to keep up with inflation, not fall further behind.”
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says this is the third group of CUPE workers to negotiate wage increases that are better than the provincial offer. Gill says there are 28 other school districts still in negotiations with CUPE – and that he expects others to follow the trends set by CUPE 40 in Calgary.
“The only way the UCP can avoid school strikes is to recognize that workers can’t go eight years without wage increases. Inflation is high and they need to value the work of taking care of students.”