TORONTO, Nov. 14, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The following is a statement from Laura Walton, Educational Assistant and President of the Union Council of Ontario School Boards of CUPE:
“This afternoon, Ontario education workers got their rights back. With the shadow of Bill 28 lifted, education workers can now focus on achieving a fairly negotiated contract that meets the needs of students, families and workers.
“This law should never have been passed. Bill 28 imposed a four-year concession treaty that would have impoverished more of us while stripping us of our charter rights, human rights and any legal defenses.
“Students and parents need funding guarantees to ensure services are delivered in schools.
“Even school boards need government to make a meaningful investment. School boards cannot hire or retain educational staff. There is a crisis in our schools because nobody wants to work for poverty wages, they are laid off for months every year, and they are constantly disregarded and undervalued by the government.
“With high inflation forcing more education workers to use food banks or choose between their rent or car payment, we need a significant wage increase just to make ends meet.
“We are not giving up our fight for academic success and good jobs.”
In September and October 2021, before inflation soared this year, education workers responded to a CUPE survey about what a decade of government-imposed wage suppression has meant for them. Here are some personal experiences of frontline education workers:
“CUPE education workers work hard and are grossly underpaid. A person working full-time should be able to independently support their family. Being dependent on others or having to get a second job is demoralizing. I am one single mother and wants My children to know if you work hard you will do well in life.”
“Right now, wages are a big reason casual workers aren’t available.”
“We put in far more hours than we get paid because we take care of the kids in our school life. It’s a slap in the face that we don’t get paid a decent wage, get paid over the holidays and then have to wait for EI to kick in…”
—Designated Early Childhood Educator
“Affordability has become almost impossible. All expenses have increased significantly (food, gas, clothing, insurance, utilities and taxes) but our wages are stagnant. That is not sustainable.”
“As a single person, I will never be able to afford to buy a house. Sometimes I have to save for retirement to get through the summer. I constantly worry if I will have enough money for all 3 layoffs each school year. Will I actually be able to retire? If I have an unpaid bill this month, what will it be? If my car breaks down unexpectedly, can I afford to fix it?”
“I am not able to replace my 10 year old vehicle with 400,000 km.”
“Cupe education staff often work in understaffed or bare minimum staffed environments. So we all have a lot of work to do and our pay should reflect that. Staffing and workload issues aside, our wages just aren’t keeping up with inflation.”
“We work hard and don’t get the recognition we deserve; we run around trying to help multiple students in multiple classrooms with many different needs, we pay for resources out of pocket, and work on building educational resources in our free time.”
“I’m a handyman and I make $15 to $20 an hour less than a handyman in the private sector. We (RDSB) are currently looking for craftsmen for the board and they don’t even get applicants because the wages are too low. We have to compete with the higher wages (private sector) so we can have a full service maintenance department.”
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