AURORA, Ont. – Employees of the York Region School Board say they are prepared to go on strike if the school board does not drop its demands for concessions and agree to fair wage increases and improvements to working conditions.
Over 1,000 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1196 and Local 1734, voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike at a membership meeting last Saturday, November 12.
“The York Region school board wants to change our members’ work week and force them to work weekends for no additional pay,” says Mary Cromwell, the president of Local 1196. “The employees have responded loudly and clearly – we are not going there. Board employees who work weekends now would have their wages reduced. Most of the staff work Monday to Friday, and being forced to work weekends, would have a serious impact on their families and their quality of life.”
“Our members are dedicated employees who have worked for the board for years, says Lorne Trevors, a CUPE staff representative for Local 1734. They deserve better treatment. Local 1734 members also want the employer to define their responsibilities more clearly.”
Wages and benefits are also a big issue at the bargaining table for both locals. “Our wages are far lower than wages at the Catholic board and other comparable boards, and that has to change,” says Cromwell. “Our schools have been praised for how clean they are, and our members deserve the credit for that as well as credit for how they support the students. They also deserve good wages and benefits.”
CUPE Local 1196 represents caretakers, maintenance staff, grass cutters, and many others. CUPE Local 1734 represents secretaries, technicians, library staff, educational assistants and others.
Both locals are committed to working with the employer to achieve positive settlements, trying to negotiate new contracts with the help of a government-appointed conciliation officer. Either party, the union or the employer, can ask the conciliation officer to file a “no board” report at any time during the conciliation process, which starts the clock ticking toward a strike or lockout deadline.
For more information, please contact:
(416) 292-3999, ext. 278