L’ORIGNAL, Ont. – School board workers with the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’est ontarien, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 4155), face a strike or lockout deadline of August 20, after the employer tabled an unacceptable final offer on July 25.
“The school board and management negotiator, Yvon Major, seem to be pushing for a strike or lockout, jeopardizing the return to classes,” said Lise Lafleur, president of CUPE 4155. “The employer refuses to deal with important issues and continues to demand concessions – it’s completely unacceptable.”
The workers’ last contract expired August 31, 2006. CUPE 4155 represents 219 full-time employees, 97 part-time and roughly 33 temporary and casual employees who work in 50 elementary and secondary schools, and school board buildings, as secretaries, clerks, custodial staff, monitors, discipline monitor, printer, IT and library technicians.
The employer refuses to include a formula for custodial staffing (based on square footage), refuses to offer benefits to regular part-time members working full-time in temporary positions, refuses to offer sick days or benefits to monitors who work more than 20 hours a week, refuses to include a shift premium for night work, refuses to adequately cover travel costs for IT technicians and secretaries who travel regularly on behalf of the school board, and wants to eliminate the training period following job offers.
The board had invited a lawyer to conciliation talks, who informed the union that the board ‘reserved the right to modify the titles, education requirements, experience or qualifications for job postings’. This would impact negatively on the wage grid, job postings and other related articles in the collective agreement. “The employer was revisiting articles that were settled in previous talks,” said Joanne Harvey, CUPE national representative. “The employer’s chief negotiator didn’t even offer dates for mediation in advance of the strike or lockout deadline – it’s hard to see how they will avoid a labour disruption.” CUPE let the conciliator know they are available to meet the employer with a provincial mediator, but management would not indicate the board’s availability.
A strike would affect schools in the following communities: East and Southeast of Ottawa all the way to the Quebec border, including the towns and municipalities of Rockland, Limoges, Embrun, Hammond, Wendover, Plantagenet, Casselman, St Eugène, L’Orignal, St Pascal de Baylon, Hawkesbury, Vankleek Hill, Alexandria, Curran, Moose Creek, Cornwall, Long Sault, Maxville, and North Lancaster. The following services would be unavailable during a work stoppage: student registration for the new school year, course choices for secondary school, the big clean-up before classes resume, water quality testing for drinking water, water line verification, building security, accounting services (pay for teachers, principals and supervisors, accounts payable and receivable), and other services.
“Our members want to be there to prepare for the school year and ensure a safe school environment that supports quality education, but it’s difficult to see how we can reach a negotiated settlement unless the employer changes their attitude pretty soon,” said Lafleur. “We are asking parents to contact school board trustees to demand they return to the bargaining table before the strike deadline, with a reasonable offer that respects the work and dedication of school board workers.”
For further information, please contact:
Lise Lafleur, CUPE 4155 president: 613-538-4827
Joanne Harvey, CUPE National Representative: 613-933-5515
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications: 416-292-3999