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Sat Nov 24 2012

Did you know that Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act, is not just about teachers and not just about a wage freeze for teachers?

Bill 115 strips all education workers of their Charter right to freely negotiate a collective agreement with their employer. Further, it strips all education workers of the right to strike to get a fair collective agreement. It takes away the right to interest arbitration. It reduces benefits for not just teachers but for all education workers.

The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Locals 4222 and 7575, are educational support staff workers in schools.

Custodians diligently clean and disinfect surfaces every day to prevent wide-spread outbreaks such as H1N1. Their constant presence in our schools can identify strangers who don’t belong or a student who needs that extra “high-five.” Maintenance workers, through daily upkeep, ensure that the huge investment in schools is preserved, as well as provide a healthy and safe environment for students.

Secretaries are the first contact the public has with a school, the voice at the other end of the phone for a concerned parent.

In the elementary schools especially, secretaries play an integral role in the Safe Arrival Policy by checking students’ attendance every day. Information technicians provide and maintain an innovative learning environment through computer networks for students in every school.

Educational and instructional assistants work with our most medically, physically and mentally challenged students. Without an EA at their side, scores of challenged students wouldn’t be able to attend public schools. Early childhood educators are essential team members who work with the youngest and most impressionable students in our schools. They cultivate an environment that allows the inquisitive mind of a young child to explore and grow through play-based learning.

We are the lowest paid, hourly workers for Thames Valley District school board; some of our members work only six hours a day.

The rallies we hold at local MPPs’ offices are sponsored by CUPE, ETFO, and OSSTF. We are all in this together. But the public still doesn’t know that it’s not just about teachers.

Sharon Mannering

President CUPE 4222