"We won't be the casualty of province's deficit reduction plan" - School custodians and trades staff draw line in the sand give 95% strike mandate

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 16 /CNW Telbec/ - At a well-attended meeting at an
area high school last night, custodians and trades staff with the
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board gave union negotiators a strong
95 per cent strike vote mandate, a move they say will protect both jobs and
the quality of services.
    "With this vote, we are drawing a line in the sand - our jobs and the
work we do will not be a casualty of the provincially-appointed supervisor's
deficit reduction plan. The McGuinty government needs to be clear; the fight
for fair funding for school support services is right here in Peel," says
Larry Stevenson, the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Local 1483.
    Throughout negotiations, which began in November, the 700 custodians and
trades staff have faced the threat of job loss and an erosion of workplace
protections, as Norbert Hartmann - the supervisor charged with making service
and program cuts on behalf of the province - has ultimate authority over the
board's finances, including the approval of a new contract settlement.
    Stevenson says that his members were optimistic last month's budget
announcement would have included new funding to address consistent shortfalls
for facility operations - that includes custodial and maintenance budgets.
But, of the $710 million new money announced, none was allocated to provide an
adequate increase to facility operations.
    In areas like Dufferin-Peel, where population is growing and new schools
are being built, this means that there will be fewer custodians and trades
staff to keep more schools clean, safe and well repaired.
    "The message to parents and students is that the McGuinty Liberals don't
think that keeping schools clean and well-maintained is important in giving
students a quality education.
    "And the message to custodians and trades people is that this government
doesn't respect us or the work we do, and that increasing our workload through
underfunding is justifiable. Well, it's not," says Stevenson, who points to
the recent two-week labour dispute in Durham.
    The 2100 members of CUPE 218 - Durham public board support staff - were
on the picket line fighting similar staffing and workload issues that are the
result of flawed education funding.
    Negotiations between CUPE 1483 and the school board resume on May 8 with
the assistance of a labour ministry conciliator.

For further information:

For further information: please contact: 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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