Support staff with School District 8 have given their union a strike mandate if labour talks break down.
Over 400 members of CUPE 748, which includes education assistants, secretaries, bus drivers and custodians, voted 98 per cent in favour of striking during votes held over five days last week across the district.
The union announced the result Tuesday but said it has not set a strike deadline and will continue to bargain with SD8. Those talks will include a BC Labour Relations Board mediator in early February.
CUPE 748 has 90 days to act on a strike from the day votes were tallied, and is required to give a 72-hour strike notice. The deadline to finalize ratification of a mediated agreement is March 15.
The union and district’s last labour deal ended in July, with talks beginning in December. CUPE 748 president Michelle Bennett said the strike vote is in reaction to a number of concessions the district is asking for regarding sick time and the hiring of non-unionized employees.
“They do a lot of contracting out, but they want to be able to do more,” said Bennett. “They want to add a new classification of employees. That would pretty much decimate our membership.”
SD8 superintendent Trish Smillie said in a statement she believes progress is being made on a new deal. “While we have not yet reached an agreement, we are hopeful that an agreement will be reached.”
School District includes schools in Nelson, the Creston Valley, Crawford Bay, Kaslo, Salmo and the Slocan Valley.