Educational Assistants (EAs) of Hanover School Division (HSD), represented by CLAC Local 306, are back on the job today following a vote in favor of a new four-year collective agreement.

The agreement was ratified Wednesday evening with an 83.1 percent approval after a three-week strike.

Geoff Dueck Thiessen is the Regional Director of CLAC Winnipeg Member Centre and says this agreement represents a cumulative compensation increase of nearly 16 percent over four years.

“This includes an immediate increase of 6.3 percent, much of which is retroactive. The most senior EAs will see their wages adjusted in total over $2 per hour in 2024, and the education premium increases 42 percent over the life of the agreement, including an immediate 21 percent increase. In addition, EAs will no longer lose workdays due to unpredictable school closures, and they see significant improvements in sick days provisions.”

In a statement posted to the CLAC website, Dueck Thiessen says the strike accomplished much for the EAs.

“First, the EAs became galvanized—they stood up together and demanded better. Second, they showed the community their value both by demonstrating their amazing character on the picket line and by the immense parental support they received. Third, I believe they shook something loose in the community. This community has a reputation for being careful with their money, which can be a positive value, but I feel the community sent a powerful message that people must come first and can’t be hurt in service of frugality.”

Dueck Thiessen emphasized that despite the wage adjustments, further improvements are imperative in the forthcoming negotiations, with a call for increased government funding.

“These wage adjustments, while significant, still need work in our next round of bargaining in three years, to get to a wage that fully compensates these folks for the valuable work they do. And some of that is going to have to come from better government funding. The last provincial government hamstrung school divisions by limiting their taxing powers, without backfilling with adequate funding. And the current government has been silent as our members went on strike.”

Looking ahead, Dueck Thiessen expressed optimism regarding the redefined relationship between EAs and HSD post-strike, highlighting a newfound assertiveness and unity among the workers.

“CLAC looks forward to working closely with HSD administration to make sure this critically important employee group can function at the highest level possible to ensure the students needing support receive it.”

The Hanover School Division shared they looked forward to welcoming EAs back to work on Thursday.