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Support staff take strike vote in Kootenay Lake school district

Unionized support staff in the Kootenay Lake school district have taken a strike vote, but the results have not yet been disclosed.

Members of CUPE Local 748 cast ballots last week in Salmo, Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Winlaw, and Nelson. President Michelle Bennett said in an email that she expected results to be released on Tuesday.

The school district says it is negotiating a renewed collective agreement under the province’s shared recovery mandate.

“Once the vote is complete, the results are valid for 90 days,” superintendent Trish Smillie said in a news release.

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“If CUPE members do want to strike within those 90 days, they would need to issue us with 72-hour strike notice. The parties have made progress at the bargaining table. While we have not yet reached an agreement, we are hopeful that an agreement will be reached.”

The district also said a mediator has been appointed by the Labour Relations Board and district management are optimistic an agreement can be reached.

Neither side has disclosed what the key issues are.

On their website, Local 748 noted it has hit an “impasse.” An earlier update said the sides met four times and exchanged proposals.

“Unfortunately, we are farther apart on many issues with the school board than we’d hoped,” they wrote.

According to the district, the deadline to finalize mediation is Feb. 22 and the deadline to finalize ratification of any mediated agreement is March 15.

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