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Peterborough This Week

Fri Oct 19  2012

To the editor: On Sept. 11, 2012, the Ontario government passed Bill 115 – the Putting Students First Act – stripping away the right to free collective bargaining of all education workers across Ontario.

While much of the media focus has been on the impact of Bill 115 on teachers, it’s important for the public to know that this is not just about teachers.

It affects more than 55,000 *CUPE* members working as custodians, secretaries, educational assistants, early childhood educators, library technicians and all other school board support staff across Ontario.

Education support staff members are the backbone and blood of our schools.

If you have a child in school, you know how absolutely imperative these employees are to the success of the education system. They ensure our children can learn in a safe and clean environment and provide the additional supports students need to succeed every day.

Bill 115 seeks to interfere with and override any collective bargaining that was reached between the unions and the school board.

Furthermore the government wishes to impose an “agreement”

unilaterally upon the unions and workers.

Calling this situation an “agreement” is an insult to the bargaining process and to educational workers in general; it would be more appropriate and more relevant to refer to Bill 115 as a dictatorial decree. It is clear the impact of the cuts reached in this decree will have greater consequences on support staff, who are among the lowest paid workers in the education system.

*CUPE* members have worked hard to help build a world-class education system in this province.

Bill 115 is an unprecedented attack on workers’ rights and is creating an unnecessary crisis in our schools, hurting students, families and communities. It also is an attack on the labour agreement process and spits in the face of labour negotiations in other industries.

What’s next? Everyone should stand up and work together to advocate for those who support student success and defend the basic rights of all workers – our communities depend on it. Your job may be next.

Monica Vereana Williams Peterborough