Staff cuts, cost of living the major factor
FORT MCMURRAY – The union representing 270 support staff with the Fort McMurray Public School District has rejected a tentative agreement with the Board and has asked the Board to return to the bargaining table.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2545 President, Lorna Tollman, says the union rejected the agreement because it didn’t deal with workload issues and because the cost of living allowance was far lower than that offered to teachers.
“Our members clean and maintain the schools, operate the offices and libraries and work directly with the vulnerable children.
“The workload of our members has been rising and we have already been told to expect more next year,” said Tollman. “The Board says they will try and ‘keep the cuts out of the classroom,’ but cuts are already happening.”
Tollman said Education Assistants who used to work with 1 special needs child now have 2 or 3 vulnerable children to work with. CUPE says that custodial staff and office staff, have also had their workload and responsibilities increase.
“By cutting back staff it’s really the quality of education that suffers,” said Tollman.
Tollman was critical of the fact CUPE members were being offered $65/month as a cost of living allowance, while teachers were being offered $350/month.
“I don’t know why the school district thinks we’re not hard hit by the economy up here, it’s not as if landlords in Fort McMurray are offering discounts to custodians and teaching assistants.”
For more information about CUPE Alberta, visit www.alberta.cupe.ca