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Support staff at schools plan work-to-rule Monday if bargaining talks fail over weekend

Should bargain talks fail on the weekend, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) (unionized support staff) will be in a legal strike position Monday, Sept. 30.

Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which represents 55,000 custodians, clerical workers and early childhood educators at 63 school boards, stated that official notice for a work-to-rule campaign (no overtime or extra duties) at 63 was given Wednesday.

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board states it believes action will be in the form of a selected work-to-rule approach whereby specific duties will be withdrawn and not performed by CUPE employees during the work day.

“Students come first at HPEDSB and we have high expectations of all employees,” said Shannon Binder, chair of the school board. “We respect the bargaining unit’s right to participate in job action and, at the same time, we are absolutely committed to student safety, and supporting continued student learning and achievement. We will continue to do our best at communicating actions and resulting implications for our schools, families, staff, and of course our students, as timely and responsibly as possible.”

Employees affected by this job action work in the following roles at HPEDSB:
· Central and back office clerical
· School-based clerical
· Communicative disorders assistants
· Custodians
· Educational assistants
· Early childhood educators
· Information technology workers
· Library technicians
· Maintenance and trades
· Student supervision monitors

Labour negotiations for the education sector are happening across Ontario. The School Boards Collective Bargaining Act (SBCBA) creates a two-tier bargaining process for the education sector.

Contracts for all unionized employees expired on August 31, 2019 and are currently being bargained, as outlined in legislation between the province, unions, and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), which represents public school boards at the provincial table.

Bargaining and conversations between the province and unions representing school support staff and teachers have been under way since the new school year.

At the provincial level, the government and the trustees’ associations bargain central terms with teachers’ federations and education workers’ (support staff) unions. These terms can include areas such as wages, class sizes, benefits/sick leave and hiring practices.

The provincial issues are ones that have the greatest monetary effect and they apply to all school boards across the province.

At the local level, individual school boards bargain directly with their local unions on local issues. These issues are unique to each school board and union, and may include areas such as staffing processes, professional development planning and leadership structures. Local issues typically do not have significant monetary impact.

Central negotiations are ongoing with this employee group. Local negotiations are yet to be scheduled.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Chris – you have pointed out some very meaningful irregularities of this government. But as a taxpayer I am tired of seeing tax money going into private pockets, while our public services take another hit – leaving the public to scramble for basic healthcare and seeing kids in over crowded and under unfunded classrooms. This is more than just a case of poor optics, but one of a poor government showing clearly where their priorities lie – and it isn’t with doing the job of providing good services to the public. So just what are we paying taxes for – to prop up weak businesses and to increase tourism, or to pay for public services?

  2. Chris Keen says:

    Dennis, I’m assuming the rationale behind this is this “investment” will result in increased sales and therefor higher taxes. But the optics on this one are certainly not good.

    Bad optics seems to be an on-going problem with this government. Last week I was chuckling over the fact a premier associated with a decal manufacturing company had to watch helplessly as his anti-carbon tax gas pump decals were peeling off the pumps. Oh, the irony – on so many levels! 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    Those incentives are meant to assist the industry in which in turn will provide more tax revenue to the Government to aid in funding the programs such as education and healthcare. That’s the belief anyways.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    As school boards and their employees have to negotiate in an atmosphere of cutbacks and fewer dollars – all done apparently to pay down the debt, the same provincial government announced at a PEC winery yesterday, that they are creating a $15 million grant to improve the operations of wineries, breweries and cider mills.

    Isn’t it wonderful that the Ford government has their priorities so well established – support “buck-a-beer” and the alcohol industry – but cutback of healthcare and education. Has anyone considered asking Ford why?

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