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All across Alberta, CUPE school board employees have been speaking up for public education and the people who are the backbone of our education system school board support workers.

Alberta’s Commission on Learning recently completed a series of public consultation meetings in nine different communities in Alberta and CUPE was there at every stop. The consultations took place from October 16 to December 3 in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort MacMurray, Peace River, Red Deer, Vermillion and Edson.

We told our stories stories from the heart, stories directly from the front line and our stories tell the tale of education under-funding and its impact on our schools and our kids, said Margaret Templeton, chair of the CUPE Alberta Education Employees Committee. (AEEC)

The CUPE education support workers joined together in a coordinated effort led by AEEC to press for recognition of the important role they play in the education system a point they say needed to be drawn to the attention of Alberta’s Learning Commission.

The Commission credits the strength of Alberta’s education system to students, teachers, administrators and trustees, completely ignoring the work of thousands of employees in the education system, said Greg Ingram, president of CUPE 829 in Medicine Hat. In response, Ingram received a written apology from the Commission for the obvious oversight.

The message from CUPE members was heard loud and clear. Everything from the effect on children with special needs of too few teaching assistants, to inadequate library resources and library hours, to unsafe and unhealthy conditions because there are simply not enough custodial and maintenance staff.

In particular the Commission was interested in the issue of pensions, said Templeton. Some school boards have been cutting the hours of part-time employees in order to keep them out of the pension plan. This is a direct result of provincial under-funding, she said.

We will be waiting anxiously to see the recommendations coming out of the Commission because we know they heard us. The Commission will be issuing a preliminary report in the spring. You can bet we will be very outspoken if our concerns are not addressed, she concluded.

To see all the presentations made by CUPE members visit www.cupealberta.ab.ca