CUPE Education Workers Are a Valuable Piece of the Education System

Posted on September 7, 2015

Dear Parents in Ontario:

I’m a school board caretaker. Some of your children call me that, the janitor, or a cleaner. Doesn’t matter to me what they call me because they understand my job in the school.

When they arrive on the bus or get dropped off, the doors are open because I arrived hours earlier in the dark to make sure things were ready for them and my co-workers. Even if they have an early morning sports practice or club meeting.

Throughout the day, your children & my co-workers look to me to make sure the building is running like it’s supposed to. Locking & unlocking exterior doors at various times to provide a secure learning environment that’s free from threats & unwanted visitors. Adjusting temperatures & ensuring boilers, pumps, fans & air conditioning units are running properly to provide a comfortable environment. Responding to spills, accidents & vandalism to ensure a clean environment. Fixing broken desks, replacing ceiling tiles & burnt out lights, testing water quality & fire alarm systems & shoveling snow & salting walkways to ensure a safe environment.

When the students and other staff go home, we’re still there. Most of us don’t get home until the 11pm news comes on. We’re cleaning everything from the desks they do their work on, to the floors they walk on, to the blackboards the teachers use to teach them the days lesson. We sweep up and get rid of all the garbage they make – and it’s a lot. We mop up the spills from their milk, juice, water & sports drinks. We clean the bathrooms and replace the soap, toilet paper and paper towels they use – and it’s a lot. We put all the clothes, jackets, gloves and hats left behind in a safe place for them to find the next day when you ask them where they left it. When there’s assemblies, parent information meetings or after school rentals of gyms for local sports teams, we set up the chairs & equipment to make sure they’re looked after properly.

When your children return to school next week, they will be welcomed back to hallways and classroom floors that look brand new. We’ve been hard at work all summer long scrubbing, polishing & re-finishing floors. We’ve been cleaning all the desks, chairs & furniture, steam cleaning carpets & fixing everything we can. Repainting walls & lockers, scrubbing down walls & moving entire classrooms around to accommodate this years enrollment. All to provide the best for your children.

We’re the behind the scenes workers that keep things running smoothly. We are the support that teachers, principals, school boards and most importantly your children rely on daily to keep the buildings where their learning happens a secure, safe, clean and comfortable environment for everyone who comes through the doors.

We’ve been without a contract for a year. We’re a valuable piece of the education system & we deserve to be treated like it. We deserve a new contract & to be negotiated with fairly. We’re CUPE members and we’re standing together in solidarity.

Please share if you agree with this.


Blake Corkill

CUPE Local 4153, Hamilton Ontario