North Bay–The inadequate, ill-thought out funding formula is coming home to roost in the Premiers own backyard. There are 14,000 children out of school in Mike Harris own riding, victims of his governments education funding formula, said Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) at a rally in North Bay in support of striking school board workers, members of CUPE Local 1165.
This is the first collective agreement for custodial/maintenance, office and technical workers and the amalgamated Near North District School Board. Wage harmonization and a fair wage increase are key outstanding issues for the union.
Frustrated at the negotiating table dealing with school boards that have been neutered by provincial government policies and an inadequate funding formula, CUPE locals throughout the province are taking job action, said Ryan, who pointed out that another 25 CUPE education sector locals representing thousands of educational support workers - are heading to the bargaining table by August 2001.
CUPE Local 4400, representing 13,000 support workers employed by the Toronto District School Board, is in a legal strike position and members are now working to rule. Support staff with the Waterloo Catholic School Board are headed to conciliation this Wednesday.
This will be the scenario throughout the province, unless the education minister addresses the issue of adequate funding to school boards for the wages and benefits of support workers in the budget allocation for the next school year.
The school community is more than just teachers. In North Bay, a high school had to close, just one day after the strike began, because students trashed washrooms and classrooms. Parents in the Premiers hometown, and in Toronto, are now seeing how important support staff are to the health of our schools, added Ryan.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications