CUPE Tells Government, Trustees To ‘Get Serious’

By Jason Viau on October 28, 2015 5:47am

CUPE 1358 President Darlene Sawchuk attends a protest, October 27, 2015.

Education support staff in Windsor-Essex want the government and board trustees to “get serious” about hammering out a deal.

Social workers, education assistants and custodians with CUPE 1358 held a protest outside the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board office Tuesday.

President Darlene Sawchuk says her members have been without a contract since August 2014.

“What it’s going to take to get a deal is for people to actually be serious at the table,” she says. “People have not been serious at that table from the Crown and from the trustees council. They need a strong mandate to actually sit and bargain a collective agreement.”

Many of the members feel frustrated and disrespected, she says, with how bargaining has unfolded.

“It sends a clear message that we are not respected for the work that we do,” she says. “The work that EAs and ECEs do (is) some of the lowest paid work, yet if this was about the money we’d all be doing something different — it’s because we love the work that we do.”

Under CUPE’s job action, education workers currently aren’t coaching teams, developing extra programs, planning field trips, handling money and have stopped some supervising duties.

However, last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that if a contract isn’t reached by November 1 and job action continues, school boards will have the power to dock pay for those not performing their duties.

“I’m sure there will be further job action if an agreement is not made and Wynne follows through on her ultimatum,” says Sawchuk.