Board workers favour strike

Sherry Martell
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NEW GLASGOW - School board workers delivered a strong message to their employer they will strike if contract demands are not met.
Bus drivers, custodians and maintenance personnel employed by Chignecto Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) overwhelmingly voted 93 per cent in favour of strike action to back their contract demands and to fight employer demands for major
"It's not what we want, we're in bargaining to bargain, but we are in total opposition of contracting out any of our work," said Terry Goulding, CUPE National Representative based in New Glasgow. "If these issues are not resolved to our satisfaction we will strike."
On Saturday members of CUPE Local 3890 voted in New Glasgow, Truro and Amherst. Approximately 600 board employees are unionized by CUPE.
School bus service is provided by a third-party in Cumberland County, but a strike would affect both custodial and maintenance staff at schools in that county.
The union and the board began bargaining at the local level in January and the issues that are outstanding come under two headings: job security and equality.
"The employer is proposing to eliminate parts of services union members currently provide in regards to some of the bus routes and plan to replace it with private conveyance," said Goulding.
CCRSB spokeswoman Carolyn Pierce said it is too early in the negotiation process to talk about specifics but feels a resolution will be reached to prevent strike action.
"We have every confidence the parties will reach a mutually acceptable agreement," said Pierce.
She said the board has plans in place for emergencies, and if needed, it will review them according to the situation and adapt them as necessary.
Goulding said employees are frustrated no progress has been made to settle outstanding issues since local bargaining began in January, including three days with the services of a Department of Labour conciliation officer.
Provincial bargaining will begin later this month and into October and could involve wage increases or wage parity negotiations.
"A strike is not eminent at this time," said Goulding.
However, if provincial negotiations break down before reaching a solution, the union could be in a legal strike position.
The previous collective agreement held by this pool of employees expired March 31, 2007.
"To this point the union negotiators have the distinct impression that this employer is not taking our proposals seriously," said Ron Davis, CUPE Local 3890 president.
"It is our hope that with this strong strike vote from CUPE members, they will return to the bargaining table to make a serious attempt at settling those outstanding issues."

Organizations: CUPE National Representative, Chignecto Central Regional School Board, Department of Labour

Geographic location: NEW GLASGOW, Amherst, Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • Sassy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:16

    The contract expired March 2007. I wonder how many Chignecto Central Regional School Board members are currently working under an expired contract. My guess would be.... not a single one of them.

    I want my kids safe and well cared for from the minute they step on a bus, the whole day at school right until they get off the bus at home. In my opinion, they should get what they are asking for.

    I didn't read that wages were an issue on the table, but rather custodial and maintenance staff are trying to ensure they can keep their jobs and prevent them from going out to third-party contractors. I don't think privatized bus operators are the way to go and that is the road we'll be down.

    If it takes a strike... so be it.

  • Chris
    January 18, 2010 - 10:16

    Most people are as capable as the next guy to drive a bus ? after doing it for 10 years myself , i assure you that , many many poeple could not drive a bus , empty ? perhaps they may get a little ways . full , with precious cargo ,as well as trying to navigate road work as well as other drivers that have zero patiences what so ever , people that apprently lack vision to see our lights flashing and drive right by putting everyone in danger . I can't comment on anything in regards to union stuff because i don't belong to one , i work alone , however to discredit what we do as drivers is very unfair , well we may not be as skilled as some people who push papers around or use big fancy words , i take pride in knowing that the kids appreciate me , and they feel safe with me , thet fact that some of you feel we , as drivers are overpaid for what we do , perhaps you should consider which drivers aren't skilled enough to drive your own children to and from school and or on field trips , and look for an alternate mode of transportation .

  • Tim
    January 18, 2010 - 10:16

    Come on people let's get real. Without unions doing what they did many years ago you wouldn't have the laws that protect workers today. I would say that most of you do not or have not worked in a union environment and have no real understanding of what it is like. Not every member of the union is lazy or does not want to work it is usually a small number of them that make it bad for the majority. I do agree that with today's economy the way it is that union's should recognize the fact that they do have jobs and not be greedy when it come to bargaining but the same can be said for the employer so they do not take advantage of the situation either. If you were in the shoes of some of these workers I guarantee you would be saying the same things that they are and would be trying to resolve the situation in a reasonable manor. Oh and next time you ask your boss for a raise or time off because you are sick or you have a vacation and he or she says no then try to see if there is a law that works for you to make it possible.

  • Sarah
    January 18, 2010 - 10:15

    I agree with Brian - all Unions do now is create a bunch of lazym useless people who will not do anything because it is not their job . They become a bunch of overpaid, self-entitled people who do the bare minimum and no one can reprimand them because they are a union member .

  • kass
    January 18, 2010 - 10:15

    More Money Doing Your Choice of a Job with Most of the Summer Off Hey Good for You Wish I was a Teacher . Count Yourself Lucky and Do The Job You Choose to Do Already . Teaching that is What You have Chosen to DO so Stop Your is Belly Aching Already . Do Your Job !!! What Would MAKE You Teachers HAPPY !!!!!!!!!

  • Sarah
    January 18, 2010 - 10:12

    What Tim says is correct - what unions did years ago has given us the rights we have today but back then, it was necessary. Now, it's just an excuse. I have not personally worked for a union but know many people who do and I see the laziness and the wastefulness of them. For example, a casual employee not being allowed to work a holiday because the full-time employees want it. Why? Because they are then paid their exuberant wages PLUS double time on top of that for being required to work a holiday. Tell me that's not taking advantage of a system and being strictly wasteful and unnecessary! It's absurd the things union workers can get away with that the regular workers cannot. And for the record, I am a regular worker , not in a union, and still have benefits such as paid sick days, and decent scheduling..but of course, no job security. But who does these days?

  • Really?
    January 18, 2010 - 10:12

    I did not say the job was not hard. I am saying that anyone, under the right circumstances, can do it. I never said I could stand doing the job, but that's not because I'm not capable, but rather because I've been spoiled by the skilled workplace. I will openly admit to being spoiled in that fashion and give these people credit for doing a tough job.

    I am, however, saying that most everyone is capable of cleaning. With respect to the fact that most people can't even drive a car these days, I would say that most people are as capable of driving a bus as the next guy.

    Again, I'm not trying to insult these people - I can imagine it is tough work. It's just not the kind of work that should come with high wages and big benefits. I don't know what they earn now and I won't judge that.

    This is a time where job security is non-existent, so for a union to seek it is selfish. And most of all, EVERYONE deserves respect... and not just for what they do, but because they are human.

  • Brian
    January 18, 2010 - 10:11

    Unions are a cancer in todays work place. There are enough laws in place to protect employees.

  • Really?
    January 18, 2010 - 10:10

    These are unskilled positions and should not come with a string of benefits. Job security is a thing of the past in today's world, and these workers should be no more secure than the thousands of skilled, non-unionized workers out there.

    Also, the word you're looking for is imminent , not eminent .

  • mark
    January 18, 2010 - 10:05

    woolbug cleaning the school doesn't require muck SKILL as you think !

  • Woolbug
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    Hey Kass, wrong union. Teachers are NSTU. This is about CUPE, which represents, custodians, bus drivers and tradespeople.

  • Woolbug
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    Hey Really? High wages, i would beg to differ. Big benefits are nothing compared to other unions and workplaces in NS. We work 12 months a year expect for normal vacation time, work storm days, and in-service days. We have very little for pension when we do retire. Our medical plan is no different from anybody else that has one. We do have sick days that accumulate over time. I really do enjoy my job at days end but would like to be treated the same as all other CCRSB employees. We are the bottom feeders of CCRSB workers and are just asking for fair treatment.

  • Offended
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    Directed at Really? and Mark - I am the daughter of one of these so-called unskilled workers . For your information there is a training process that custodians for the school board must go through and many who apply do not make it through. You have no respect for these people who work HARD and have to literally run to get all their required work done in a shift, and have much more work to do now with the threat of the H1N1 virus around - and all you can do is insult them. If it's a job that just anyone can do I suggest you do what woolbug says and try it yourselves. I can guarantee you wouldn't last a night!

  • BJ
    January 18, 2010 - 09:56

    Familiar echoes???

    So a year from now we'll be reading about layoffs. And of course they'll b!tch then.

  • Woolbug
    January 18, 2010 - 09:55

    Hey Mark, what night did you want to come in to work.

  • Woolbug
    January 18, 2010 - 09:50

    Hey Really?, go the CCRSB website and get an application for one our unskilled jobs. You would see what it is like to drive a bus full of children that are not yours. Go into a school at night and clean up after these same children. We not have a trade for our position, but it does require more skill than you realize. You really should give it a try and you really would appreciate how undervalued and underpaid we really are.

  • Woolbug
    January 18, 2010 - 09:45

    Unlike NSGEU, we did not jump out of seats at the result of the vote. We have gone 2.5 years without a contract and would like to have this resolved. The teacher's union and NSGEU have all settled a contract that expired after ours. All we want is to be treated with respect and given a fair deal.

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 09:36

    Before I started a business, previous employment gave me the opportunity to experience both sides of the fence.

    Woolbug is right. He says, All we want is to be treated with respect and given a fair deal. That's his right. Many employers don't care about workers rights.