Crossing guards, who provide first-class safety services to students, are facing second-class treatment from their employer, the City of Quinte West in Ontario, charges the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing the 35 workers who ensure students cross the streets near their schools safely and securely.
“Our members are simply looking to be treated fairly by the City of Quinte West,” said Doug Villeneuve, president of CUPE 799. “While the crossing guards serve the students and their colleagues at City Hall serve the parents and families of the students, management has decided to treat the crossing guards as second-class citizens by offering them a contract that is different than what the other city workers received.”
CUPE 799 also represents 135 municipal workers at the City of Quinte West. Both parties amicably reached a fair contract last summer. Most of the crossing guards are part-time workers with split shifts of about three hours of work per day. Some are senior citizens, while others are single parents who work these split-shifts before and after the school day begins and ends, helping students cross the streets safely on their way to schools or back to their homes.
“These crossing guards provide a valuable service in our community,” continued Villeneuve. “They are from our community and are here to safeguard the students, the future of our community. They are paid just barely above minimum wage and have minimal benefits. Yet, this employer has decided to target them by treating them differently than other municipal workers. They work for the same employer, live in and serve the same community and they should be treated fairly and equally.”
The workers refused an inferior offer from the city which included a different compensation increase than what the other city workers received. Since the inferior offer was rejected by the workers, CUPE 799 filed for a “no board” report from the provincial government, seeking the services of a provincial mediator to reach a fair deal and avoid a service disruption that could occur at the end of the month if an equitable deal is not reached between the two parties.
The workers’ last contract expired on December 31, 2011. Mediation meetings to allow both parties to reach a deal will be scheduled after management meets with council on August 13 to discuss the bargaining impasse. “We are urging council to do the right thing and treat these workers fairly and offer them an equitable deal that will allow them to continue to serve the students going back to school this fall without disruption,” concluded Villeneuve.
For further information, please contact:
President, CUPE 799
CUPE National Representative