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FERGUS Upper Grand District School Board custodial, maintenance and trades people, now in difficult contract talks with board negotiators, say they are not prepared to shoulder the financial burden of salary increases already given to senior board staff and other school board workers.

While the board has negotiated wage settlements with teachers, clerical support staff, and superintendents of upwards of 3 per cent, and Martha Rogers, the Director of Education, makes over $152,000, the front line workers, who earn less than their counterparts at other school boards, are being offered a miserly half a per cent raise.

Undermining the value of custodial and trades workers is a consistent pattern on the part of the board, says Jill Smyth, national staff representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union that represents the 230 custodians, maintenance and trades workers, who are members of CUPE Local 256.

Smyth stresses that over the past decade, CUPE Local 256 members have lost ground to inflation and seen a reduction in the purchasing power of their take-home pay. The boards current offer would put workers even farther behind.

Whats clear is that the board has a bias against the lowest paid workers in the system. Other board workers have all been given a raise. The board has a habit of disrespect and contempt for this particular group of non-teaching staff. Its shameful, and it will not be tolerated in this round of bargaining, says Smyth.

The two sides are meeting today (April 19) with a Labour Ministry conciliator in an effort to reach a deal before the lockout/strike deadline of 12:01 a.m., April 27.

Families in our community should be aware that the union is doing all we can to avert a labour disruption. Parents should be aware of that and contact their school trustees and ask them to reach a settlement with Local 256, says Smyth.


For more information, please contact:
Jill Smyth, CUPE National Representative
(519) 743-7781
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774