WAINWRIGHT Frustrated with earning some of the lowest wages of education workers in Alberta, support staff at Buffalo Trail School Division walked off the job today a few minutes before lunch hour.
Margaret Templeton, President of CUPE Local 1606 says that the mood of her members is both angry and upbeat.
We are angry that our employer doesnt respect us, but we are upbeat because we are standing up for ourselves, said Templeton.
Templeton said the support staff will remain on the picket line until they get offered a wage increase in line with the cost of living. She rejected employer claims that the school division doesnt have the money.
Giving 240 support staff a decent wage increase would cost about $250,000 per year, said Templeton. By contrast, nine school trustees cost the division over $300,000 in wages, expenses and benefits.
CUPE also noted that the expenses of school trustees increased by 13% last year.
Its really a matter of priorities. Whats more important clean, well run schools, or a 13% increase in trustee expenses? said Templeton. I think parents will have a different answer than the trustees.
CUPE members picketed the school division head office today, and are expected to picket schools starting Monday morning.