CLAC Issues Strike Notice to Hanover School Division
Steinbach, MB—CLAC has given strike notice to Hanover School Division (HSD), the employer of nearly 300 educational assistants (EAs) represented by the union, following bargaining on Tuesday, October 24. The union had been given a 96 percent strike mandate by its membership, and the latest offer from the employer was determined to be unsatisfactory. According to CLAC Winnipeg Regional Director Geoff Dueck Thiessen, the parties will meet on Monday, October 30. If a deal is not finalized by the end of the day Tuesday, October 31, the EAs will walk off the job on Wednesday, November 1.
While the union recognizes that striking will have an impact on schools and parents, the impacts on education are already occurring due to this employee group experiencing suppressed wages and being stretched thin.
“We are hearing pretty consistently that parents and teachers are supportive of the EAs,” says Dueck Thiessen. “Everyone knows this won’t be easy, but sometimes we must do the hard thing. Ultimately, the board of trustees provides the employer’s mandate for bargaining. We hope the public agrees that underpaying your people by several dollars per hour isn’t better for students or staff and that being the school division with the lowest administrative costs per student in the province isn’t working.”
The EAs have been represented by Education, Service, and Healthcare Union, CLAC Local 306 since 2005.
Dueck Thiessen says the challenges to the school division’s budget may be real, but kicking reasonable wages down the road until a different funding model may come into play isn’t a good plan.
“There’s nothing historical that suggests HSD wants to pay competitive wages and that this could change at some later date,” he explains. “Teachers are likely going to see large wage increases as part of Manitoba’s first round of provincial negotiations, and HSD administration normally sees those same increases. So why should the lowest paid folks, who are putting their hearts, souls, and bodies forward every day in some of the most challenging situations you can imagine happening in a school, settle for less?
“HSD will find the funds to pay upcoming teacher salary increases, and they can find funds to pay support staff better too.”