Though the focus has been on teacher’s , educational support staff are also seeking a new contract and it appears it will come down to the wire.
About 420 educational support workers at the Huron Superior Catholic District School Board staged a peaceful picket Friday at the entrance way to the new St. Mary’s College and while grand opening ceremonies for that school was being held, picketers at the entrance way hope to have a new deal by the deadline Sunday, November 1.
Local 4148 represents clerical, librarians, early childhood educators and custodians. “we feel we’ve been ignored over this because we’re not teachers” Vicky Evans, President of CUPE Local 4148 told SaultOnline.com Friday. “we’re the lowest paid education workers in the educational system in Ontario, many members make less than 28,000 a year, and we lost 27 educational assistants this year to part time.
Evans says it’s do or die time with the clock ticking. Premiere Kathleen Wynne has given school boards permission to dock pay if an agreement is not reached. At that point, the union is prepared for strike action.
Attempts of negotiating a new contract since August 2014, “the union has tried to get the government to the table since the spring of 2014, but there’s been one delay over another” Evans said.
Evans says the workload put on the educational assistants is next to impossible, “it’s a very chaotic environment, we’re looking at reduced class sizes in kindergarten”
The union is wanting to see improvements in staffing formulas for custodians. Currently what the Province is proposing does not include hallways. “Our biggest issue locally is violence in the schools, many of our educational assistants are assaulted daily by students, there has to be more staffing and more training dealing with special needs children”
Money is also a burning issue, “we haven’t had a raise since 2011, with the cost of living, we have actually seen a reduction in the quality of life for our members.
Evans said “the members will have some sort of indication on whether we have a deal or if we’re on strike, ultimately we want a fair contract.”