A potential school strike that was looming over the families of more than 20,000 students on the North Shore has been averted with a tentative deal between school support workers and the province.
The deal, announced late Wednesday night between unionized CUPE support workers and the provincial bargaining committee, would give workers a 3.5 per cent pay increase over two years.
Local school districts will have to pay for the increase from within their existing budgets and will have to submit a plan to Victoria detailing how they will pay for the wage hike.
Union members must also approve the deal.
For the West Vancouver school district, with about 7,100 students, the agreement with its support workers, represented by the West Vancouver Municipal Employees Association, will mean finding about an extra $200,000 in its budget for the first year of the deal and about $350,000 a year annually after that.
David Eberwein, assistant superintendent for West Vancouver, said the school district doesn't yet know where the money will come from, but added, "We're certainly looking at all areas of the budget that don't have an impact on core services."
Eberwein added the district is "very excited that a tentative deal is in place."
North Vancouver school district officials were still examining the deal Thursday and had no estimates of how much extra money they will have to find in the budget.
There are about 1,100 CUPE members working in North Vancouver schools, while about 364 support workers are employed by the West Vancouver school district.
CUPE and associated unions represent school support staff including clerical and maintenance staff, classroom assistants and janitors.
If the CUPE deal is approved, that still leaves local teachers without a collective agreement. The province has indicated it wants to reach a 10-year deal with teachers - something teachers have opposed.
Rob Millard, president of the West Vancouver Teachers Association, which represents about 680 teachers, said the tentative deal with CUPE is a "good sign" that agreements with the province are possible.
But he added the province didn't insist on a 10-year deal for CUPE members, which is a significant difference at the bargaining table.
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