Schools in Richmond, and around the rest of the province, could be out for summer longer than planned.
That's if unionized non-teaching and support staff and the BC Public School Employers' Association don't get back to the bargaining table by the end of August to hash out a contract agreement after talks broke down this week.
The failure to continue discussions is a major disappointment for June Kaiser and the rest of CUPE's bargaining committee.
Kaiser, president of CUPE 716 which represents about 1,000 workers in Richmond, told the Richmond News her group was fully prepared to bargain. But at the end of three days of talks, they were told there was nothing the employers' association could offer them.
Kaisier said CUPE is hoping to resume bargaining by the last week of August. But if that doesn't happen, there is a real likelihood of job action that would close schools just as they are getting ready to begin a new academic year.
"We told them if they are not prepared to bargain at the end of August, respectfully and with a deal coming up, we walk," Kasier said.
The employers' association has yet to agree on talks resuming before the end of the month.
Kaiser said she is hopeful job action can be averted, although as news filtered out about the collapse of talks she received a torrent of messages from her members supporting a strike. "I got an unprecedented response, with people saying we need to draw a line in the sand, and tired of being treated like second class citizens," Kaiser said.
According to the union, education assistants, clerical staff, trades, custodians, bus drivers and other workers they represent have been without a wage increase for more than four years.
Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for the employer, said in a press release the two sides made it clear they're willing to work towards a provincial framework agreement, but added the union would have to make concessions.
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