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BROCKVILLE, Ont. – The Upper Canada District School Board is jeopardizing the education of thousands of students by demanding a long list of concessions in contract talks, and setting the stage for a bitter strike, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 1,400 workers in Eastern Ontario public elementary and secondary schools. “Our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to prevent our employer from gutting education in Eastern Ontario,” said Susan Hanson, president of CUPE 5678. “We simply cannot accept concessions that include layoffs, cutbacks, no recognition for part-time workers, an attack on seniority rights for all workers, cuts to hours of work and a general lack of respect for school board workers.” CUPE has requested the assistance of a provincial conciliator to try and resume talks with the board, but no dates have been scheduled. CUPE 5678 members recently voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action, if a contract settlement cannot be reached with the school board. CUPE represents 1,400 clerical, education assistants, instructional assistants, plant, custodial and maintenance, information technology, transportation, library and support staff in schools across a vast area of Eastern Ontario, including the communities of Akwesasne, Alexandria, Alfred, Almonte, Athens, Augusta, Avonmore, Brockville, Carleton Place, Casselman, Champlain, Chesterville, Clarence, Cornwall, Drummond, Dundas, Elgin, Elmsley, Gananoque, Glengarry, Grenville, Hawkesbury, Ingleside, Kemptville, Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Merrickville, Mississippi Mills, Montague, Perth, Prescott, Rideau Lakes, Rockland, Russell, Smiths Falls, Stormont, Tay Valley, Thousand Islands, Vankleek, Westport and Williamston. “The school board put 10 million dollars in a reserve fund last year, while they were cutting back on services for students,” said Hanson. “The province has now clawed back that money and the board is claiming a 10 million dollar deficit – it’s unfair for students in our communities to pay the price for school board mismanagement and Liberal government claw-backs.” “Many of the students we work with are vulnerable and have special needs,” said Hanson. “While the board has laid off many education assistants, the number of special needs students remains the same and has increased in some cases.” “We urge parents to contact school trustees and tell them to stop the cut-backs and prevent a strike,” said Hanson. “Tell them the children in our communities deserve better.” A delegation of CUPE 5678 members will attend this evening’s school board meeting, at the Upper District School Board, 225 Central Avenue West, Brockville. -30- For further information, please contact: Susan Hanson Joanne Harvey Robert Lamoureux CUPE 5678 President CUPE National Representative CUPE Communications 613-330-4665 613-933-5515 416-292-3999