LONDON, Ont. – School support staff employed by Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) rallied outside the board’s headquarters on Dundas Street today, demanding the board start treating workers fairly.
The workers – who include school secretaries, educational assistants, custodians and early childhood educators – are frustrated by the board’s refusal to fully implement the terms of the collective agreement reached earlier this year for support staff.
“Fair’s fair and a deal is a deal,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “This agreement was signed with the provincial government, ratified by our members and is being implemented properly by the majority of school boards across Ontario, but TVDSB has decided the penalize support workers. It is outrageous that this board will implement what was negotiated for teachers but not for support staff, who are the lowest paid workers in the education system.”
The TVDSB has arbitrarily implemented sick leave penalties for support staff that are harsher than those enjoyed by the board’s other employees, including principals and teachers. This has caused financial hardship for TVDSB’s school support workers fighting serious illnesses, including losing up to one third of their salaries.
“I’m so frustrated that the TVDSB could force support staff who are sick into serious financial hardship, especially when support staff, who are employed only ten months of the year, already suffer a reduction in wages three times a year through layoff,” said Heather Skolly, an educational assistant with TVDSB and President of CUPE 7575.
“We are proud of the work we do that is essential for the success of students,” said David Denouden, president of CUPE 4222. “We deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. It’s not like the TVDSB doesn’t understand this agreement: they clarified the provincial language to us in bargaining last year and were implementing it as it was intended last school year.”
The agreement, which went into effect early in 2013, was being fairly implemented by TVDSB until the new school year began in September. TVDSB is one of a handful of Ontario school boards refusing to properly implement the agreement between CUPE and the provincial government.
The rally in London was organized by CUPE Locals 7575 and 4222. It is the first of several planned protests across Ontario, as school board support workers demand fair treatment from their employers.
Rally for Respect: Thames Valley District School Board, 1250 Dundas Street, London, Ontario, Tuesday, December 10 from 4:00 to 7:30 pm.
For more information, contact:
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications: 905-739-3999 ext. 240 or 416-206-5609