In a clear and strong message to both the Ontario government and their school board employer that “enough is enough,” clerical, secretarial and technical staff with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) last night voted 99.9 per cent in support of strike action.
The strength of the vote marks a “milestone for us,” says Tina DiVona, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2026, representing about 600 school support workers at the board.
“After nearly ten years of understaffing and increasingly high workloads—resulting from flawed and inadequate education funding and, until recently, a school board willing to make cuts—administrative support workers have hit the wall. We are saying ‘enough is enough,’ says DiVona.
Negotiations between CUPE 2026 and the school board began in November 2006. During that time, a provincially-appointed supervisor has been in place to make cuts and balance a $16 million deficit.
“Having the province’s own deficit cutter under our roof has backfired on the government. What it’s done is allowed us to better focus on how to defend our workplace rights, our jobs, and the quality of public education. This strike vote is a direct result of workers seeing their livelihood under attack,” says DiVona.
A key issue for CUPE 2026 in these negotiations is achieving a better staff-to-student ratio. Based on comparisons with other school boards, there are fewer secretaries and other administrative staff at the Dufferin-Peel catholic board per pupil. In addition, school secretaries and library technicians are called on to supervise students because the provincial Liberals did not provide adequate funding to school boards to meet new framework agreements on preparation time with teachers.
“What this means is there aren’t enough support staff to keep up with the administrative work in a region that’s showing student growth. Things like staying on top of attendance management are key to keeping students in school and helping them succeed, and we can’t do that well enough with the staffing levels we currently have,” says DiVona.
Initially, the provincial supervisor had proposed cutting 19 clerical staff and close to a half-million dollars from the clerical support budget.
Negotiations resume on June 22.
For more information, please contact:
Tina DiVona President, CUPE 2026 (647) 297-2873
Vickie Houston CUPE National Representative (905) 536-0711
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774