Lack of new funding and pro-cuts provincial supervisor cloud tense catholic school board contract talks



    At an impasse; custodians, trades workers take strike vote

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, March 29 /CNW Telbec/ - With no new funding relief for
school support services announced in last week's Ontario budget and a pro-cuts
provincial supervisor hovering over contract negotiations between custodians
and trades workers and the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
(DPCDSB), the tense talks reached an impasse this week.
    Larry Stevenson, the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) Local 1483, says that the 700 school custodians and trades staff at the
catholic board will be taking a strike vote in the coming weeks. On Monday
(this week), CUPE 1483 filed for conciliation with the labour ministry, a move
Stevenson believes could get negotiations back on track and avoid a labour
disruption.
    CUPE 1483 and school board negotiators began contract talks in November.
Shortly after, the Liberal government-imposed supervisor indicated that he
would be using contract talks with school board staff as a way to make budget
cuts.
    Throughout the negotiations, CUPE 1483 has questioned whether the board
negotiators have the authority to bargain a deal since supervisor Norbert
Hartmann - who is acting for the McGuinty government - indicated in a February
28th letter to the union, that he is making all final decisions on the board's
financial matters.
    "With no significant funding coming for custodial and trades services
from the province in the recent budget, and a pro-cuts supervisor pulling the
strings behind the scenes on behalf of the government, there's a cloud
hovering over this round of negotiations. That's not helpful to reaching a
settlement.
    "In addition, it's not clear if those negotiating for the board even have
a mandate to reach a settlement based on the proposals that are now on the
bargaining table. We are at an impasse, but our goal is to avoid labour
turmoil," says Stevenson.
    With last week's provincial budget, the Liberals are continuing a
decade-long pattern of funding that has short-changed the so-called
non-classroom areas of schools, like custodial and trades services. In fact,
funding for school operations, as a percentage of overall provincial funding,
will decline to 9.36% in 2007-08 from 9.7% in 2005-06. Studies show that the
province currently underfunds school operations, like cleaning and
maintenance, by $375 million a year.
    At a recent Dufferin-Peel catholic board meeting, administrators
indicated that once McGuinty government initiatives, like smaller class sizes
and the framework agreement with teachers for additional preparation time, are
factored in, provincial funding won't even cover the cost of inflation and the
school board will still be struggling with a deficit.




For further information:

For further information: Larry Stevenson President, CUPE 1483, (416)
433-4322; Vickie Houston, CUPE National Representative, (905) 536-0711; Stella
Yeadon, CUPE Communications, (416) 578-8774

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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ONTARIO BUDGET 2007

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