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Stories from the Front Line

Calgary Budget restrictions over the last number of years have caused serious deterioration in the learning environment in Calgary schools say Fred Latreille, Drake Hammill and Tony Miotti, school support workers who are scheduled to make presentations to Albertas Commission on Learning in Calgary today.

Dirtier classrooms, dirtier lunchrooms and a continuing deterioration of our school facilities has spelt more risk of infection and increasing hardship for those students and staff with allergies, says Latreille, with CUPE Local 40 representing staff at the Calgary Public Board of Education.

The CUPE members have prepared a brief for the commission that outlines the chronology of cuts to school custodial and maintenance staff and its impact on safety health and learning. Between 1994 and 1996, the Calgary Board of Education cut over 70 positions from the plant and operations budget and contracted out cleaning services. After contracting-out proved to be a dismal failure, cleaning was re-assigned to existing staff with no increase in positions. Since that time, the number of school sites has increased while the number of caretakers, cleaners, maintenance and delivery staff have been reduced through cuts and attrition. This past year another 12.5 positions have been eliminated.

Given the past ten years of cuts, with more jobs cut this year, our members are reporting serious problems in many of our schools, says Hammill.

The situation is no better with the Calgary Catholic Board, says Miotti of CUPE Local 520 representing staff at the Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School Division. We hope the members of the commission hear our message about school support services. There is more to education than the work of teachers. We take pride in creating and maintaining high quality learning environment so that students will be happy to come to school, he said.

Hammill, Latreille and Miotti make their presentations at 3:40 p.m. today at SAIT, Heritage Building, Corporate Training Centre, 1301-16 Avenue N.W. Collectively, the three represent close to 1,000 education support workers in Calgary.


CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE website for more information cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information:
Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)