MISSISSAUGA, ON - Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board technical, clerical, secretarial, custodial and trades workers who are the targets of provincial education budget cuts are putting the McGuinty government on notice that sending in the provincially-imposed supervisor to upcoming contract negotiations will destabilize the bargaining relationship and possibly trigger labour unrest at the school board.
“We bargain with the school board. That’s our employer. We want assurances from the premier and the education minister, in particular, we will not be subjected to the Ontario government axeman at the bargaining table,” say Larry Stevenson, the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1483 and Tina DiVona, president of CUPE 2026, representing Dufferin-Peel school board workers.
The contracts, for more than 1,100 custodians, secretaries, IT and trades front line staff, expired on September 30. The two local unions are scheduled to begin bargaining in early November.
For nearly a decade, CUPE has said that Ontario’s education funding formula is flawed because it disproportionately promotes job cuts among custodial, trades, clerical & secretarial personnel, library technicians, and other support staff.
Stevenson and DiVona point out that the $1500 a day rate the McGuinty Liberals are paying Norbert Hartmann is an insult to the thousands of school board workers who have lost their jobs since the education funding formula has been in place.
“The province has the money to pay the axeman hundreds of thousands of dollars by the end of this process, but no money for clerks and secretaries. It is a slap in the face for the 20 clerical and secretarial staff — all women — who will lose their jobs if the supervisor forces the budget cuts Dufferin-Peel trustees refused to make,” says DiVona.
Many school boards balanced budgets this year by depleting reserves. Next year that funding cushion will no longer be an option for school boards and there will be massive job and program cuts province-wide unless the funding formula is fixed, warn Stevenson and DiVona.
An emergency meeting for school board workers from across the province, who are members of CUPE, has been scheduled to take place in Toronto on Monday, October 23, 2006.
“This government is seriously underestimating school board workers if they think we won’t put up a fight,” says Stevenson. CUPE 1483 has lost 44 custodians and three trades positions since November 2005, although the school population has grown and new schools have been built.
For more information please contact:
President, CUPE 2026
(647) 297-(CUPE) 2873
President, CUPE 1483