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Instead of heading home after work on Tuesday, 10 December, more than a hundred school support workers braved sub-zero temperatures to descend on the headquarters of Thames Valley District School Board (TDVSB) for a “Rally for Respect,” organized by CUPE locals 7575 and 4222.

For three hours, CUPE members shouted, sang and chanted their frustration at TVDSB’s implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which denies CUPE members sick leave provisions equal to those of other board employees.

Tuesday’s supporters came from as far away as Sarnia, Niagara and Toronto. Also showing their solidarity were CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn; ETFO Thames Valley president Craig Smith; ETFO Occasional Teachers president Terry Card; and London and District Labour Council president Patti Dalton.

“We have filed grievances, we’ve talked to the ministry, we’ve lobbied the premier,” said Heather Skolly, president of CUPE 7575, addressing members from the bed of a pickup truck. “And we are not giving up until we receive fair treatment.”

“We are proud of the work we do,” said David Denouden, president of CUPE 4222. “We deserve to be treated with as much respect as other board employees.”

The rally in London is the first of several planned protests across Ontario, as school board support workers demand fair treatment from the handful of remaining school boards that refuse to implement the MOU fully. CUPE school support workers who cannot attend a rally can sign a solidarity letter here (également ici).