Frontline workers rallyingFrontline education workers demonstrated outside and attended inside at the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) meeting on last night.

Despite rising enrollment and this school board’s own projection that funding will increase for the 2022-2023 school year starting in September, trustees are cutting 11 frontline workers: custodians, maintenance, and clerical staff.

“There is an increase in all of the major government grants that fund frontline education workers’ positions here,” said Jo-Anne White, president of CUPE 1022. “We’ve done our part, now it’s time for trustees to do theirs. Trustees must reject any proposed cuts in their budget.”

CUPE-Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) members are committed to guaranteeing services for students – services that kids need and their caregivers demand. In 2019, during the frontline workers’ last round of bargaining with the provincial government and school boards, CUPE-OSBCU members negotiated the Education Workers Protection Fund specifically to stop these sorts of damaging cuts that harm students.

“Custodians need to know there will be enough of them to fight the next wave of COVID-19. Clerical Workers go in early and stay late – working unpaid time – to protect students’ safety and ensure the smooth operation of our schools. Educational Assistants see that more of them must be hired to provide the one-on-one supports students need and families demand. Early Childhood Educators have to be in every kindergarten classroom to give our youngest students the hands-on experiences that four- and five-year-old crave,” explained Laura Walton president of CUPE’s OSBCU.

“The lowest-paid education workers are on the chopping block, and they shouldn’t be,” said Walton. “These are people who have worked on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, they’re the backbone of every community’s schools. No one voted for more cuts and it’s time for Hastings and Prince Edward trustees to pass a no-cuts budget.”

CUPE 1022 represents 700 Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board custodians, school secretaries, computer technicians and technologists, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heating ventilation and air conditioning workers, student supervision monitors, educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, communications disorders assistants, library technicians, and education centre staff.

The Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) unites 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in the public, Catholic, English, and French school systems throughout Canada’s largest province. OSBCU members are educational assistants, school library workers, administrative assistants, custodians and tradespeople, early childhood educators, child and youth workers, instructors, nutrition service workers, audio-visual technologists, school safety monitors, and social workers.