Garden Valley School Division Educational Assistants Ratify New Collective Agreement
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Garden Valley School Division Educational Assistants Ratify New Collective Agreement

Winkler, MB—On December 14, educational assistants (EAs) employed by Garden Valley School Division (GVSD) and represented by CLAC, voted to ratify a new collective agreement. Ninety-six percent of the EAs who cast a ballot voted in favour of the new four-year contract, which expired in 2022.

The workers have been represented by Education, Service, and Healthcare Union, CLAC Local 306, since 2005.

Highlights include year-over-year percentage adjustments in line with other public sector agreements, in addition to special adjustments to boost wages for most EAs. Overall, this represents a roughly 15.5 percent overall wage adjustment, with some EAs seeing wage increases of more than 20 percent over the life of the agreement. Additionally, a limit to the number of unpaid workdays due to weather-related school cancellations ensures their income becomes less precarious.

Geoff Dueck Thiessen, regional director of the CLAC Winnipeg Member Centre, says the new agreement is a win for these workers, but the work isn’t done.

“This settlement is, for the times, a good one,” he says. “It sees bigger wage adjustments than most public sector settlements, and the positive ratification demonstrates this. Given the funding challenges faced by the school division, we believe it’s the best settlement that was available.

“At the same time, there will be more work to do when we return to the bargaining table in 2026. We don’t see any good reason, aside from funding, for EAs outside of Winnipeg to be paid less than those in Winnipeg, and we believe they should be recognized for the valuable role they play in today’s public education system.”

EAs employed by Hanover School Division in nearby Steinbach, who are also represented by CLAC, went on strike for three weeks in November and achieved a similar settlement. Dueck Thiessen believes that this helped CLAC members working for GVSD attain this contract.

“I think the strike demonstrated a few things,” he explains. “One, it showed just how valuable educational assistants are in the delivery of education. They really are the glue, or mortar, holding things together in a public education system with increasingly complex and challenging student needs. Two, it showed the fatigue and resolve of employees who are tired of waiting for something to change. Folks are increasingly willing to fight for something better. I’m thankful the EAs at GVSD didn’t have to go down the strike path to get a reasonable settlement.”

Dueck Thiessen adds that this ratification is a good reminder to take the opportunity to thank the workers whose behind-the-scenes contributions have big impacts.

“All of our contributions matter, whether we’re supporting infrastructure, providing a service, building the things we use, or supporting people,” he says. “And while we all need to make a living wage, we also like to know that our contributions are making a difference and are appreciated.”
 

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