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Dumps chemicals on front lawn of Ottewell School

EDMONTON – The union representing custodial workers in Edmonton Public Schools, today filed a complaint with Alberta Environment against a private carpet cleaning company for dumping toxic waste at Ottewell School.

CUPE Local 474 President Doug Luellman said he was shocked yesterday when he saw toxic carpet cleaning chemicals flowing all over the front lawn and sidewalk of the school. “They dumped their overflow waste recovery tank directly onto the school lawn.”

Luellman, a certified carpet technician himself, says that this violates proper procedures used in high pressure steam cleaning, as the chemicals are corrosive and could get into the water system. “This would never have happened if the school had used our own carpet cleaning truck unit.” The school district has its own carpet-cleaning unit.

In addition to their complaint with Alberta Environment, Luellman says the union will file a grievance against the school for contracting out work normally done by trained CUPE members.

The union has a no-contracting-out clause in its collective agreement which covers carpet cleaning says Luellman. “Contracting out carpet cleaning to a private company is a waste of valuable taxpayer money, the company charged the school twice the amount that it would have cost if the school used our own district carpet cleaning unit.”

Luellman said no senior administration were available to stop the private contractor nor to oversee their cleaning at the school.

“School staff, visitors to the school, and a construction crew were forced to walk through contaminated waste water, and were dragging it back into the school, damaging the non carpeted floors,” says Luellman. “This was a shoddy job, it was overpriced, it did not meet our standards and then to top it off they contaminated the school grounds by directly dumping their toxic waste onto the lawn.”

CUPE Local 474 represents the 600 custodial workers in Edmonton Public Schools.