Majority of CUPE Local 5512 members reject Prairie South School Division’s offer

Many of the workers who are employed by the Prairie South School Division have voted against the division’s tentative agreement offer.

89 per cent of votes from members of CUPE Local 5512, who work for the division, rejected their employer’s final offer after workers from over 15 communities had their say.

“What we’re hearing from our members is they want to feel respected in the work place and they deserve a fair wage,” said Tria Donaldson, communications consultant with CUPE Saskatchewan.

Workers say the main issues behind them turning down the deal are wages and the division’s proposed changes to retirement gratuities.

Donaldson stated how their workers are some of the lowest paid employees in the public sector. After some workers at the division received a pay raise, she feels it’s only fair their members earn a raise, too.

The other problem surrounds what is called the Long Service Recognition Benefit. The gratuity has been in place for many years, however Donaldson said the division is wanting to change the language which would create a “severely restricted” retirement bonus for workers.

“They want to take it away and make it a lump sum based on 10 per cent of your annual earnings,” she explained. “Some of our members are making as low as $25,000 per year, and 10 per cent of that is much less than what they were getting from the payout from their sick days.”

Following the rejection, the two sides are set to go back to the table sometime later this month. Dates have yet to be determined.

When asked if she thinks the local is considering a legal strike position, Donaldson admitted she’s hopeful this situation won’t reach that point.

“We do have a strong strike mandate from our members and they’re standing united demanding a fair deal. We could see strike action but it wouldn’t be until October.”

Approximately 422 employees are represented by CUPE Local 5512 in the school division.

The group’s support workers include maintenance workers, bus drivers and education assistants among other positions within Prairie South.

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