April showers target city’s most marginalized: 493.5 EA + 134 office positions slashed*

 In Boardwatch, Education matters, The public board -TDSB

The question of re-considering TDSB layoffs for the 134 School Office Staff still has not taken place. The Union [representing the staffers] maintains that moving so many staff will cause serious disruption to the learning environment.  Taking out 134 full-time equivalent positions ensures damage and chaos.

Make no mistake:  the restructuring that the Board has wanted (moving office staff from secondary schools to elementary schools) has nothing to do with laying-off 134 FTE School Office Staff. The Union Executive members responsible for Unit C [education workers] still have not been told which job classes will be moved.  They certainly have not been told which will be laid off.

The strategy employed by [CUPE 4400] when facing layoffs of this nature, is to publicize the problem, let the public know what programs and services will be missing or damaged if or when our members are let go, and then try to keep the fight up long enough for parents and other education activists to organize themselves and kick up a storm. This is often done with the support of Trustees who understand the importance of the work our members do.

This time it is harder.  To begin, the principals have NOT spoken to the Trustees about the necessity of keeping office staff.  This is a major problem as the Trustees really listen to the principals.

Further, there seems to be few Trustees willing to stand up to the Province, taking a stand in favour of fighting for the real needs of the school boards.  This budget is going to harm our system.

The majority of Trustees are trying hard to meet the impossibly inadequate budget – making so-called “hard choices” which are not as hard, however, as losing one’s job.  They are clearly doing the dirty work of the province.  Trustees are saying “If this job class does not go, then we will cut that and that”.  It is a zero sum game with no winners, only losers – beginning with the learners.

We are still trying to save the jobs, find opportunities for our members to find other positions and look into retraining.  We have requested that IF we are not successful, THEN the TDSB should do everything within its power to make the process as humane as possible.

There was a motion* on Wednesday’s agenda to do so but it did not get passed.  Its purpose was to outline a way to deal with layoffs, giving valued employees options.  Instead, at the very end of the long and tiring meeting, there was a motion to “stand (it) down” and it will be at the Budget Committee later this month.  The motion* is reproduced below.

* Implementation of Staff Reductions

 (a) That prior to laying off anyone, the most senior employees in the job class who are 55 years of age and up be offered retirement with severance and the right to return as temporary employees in positions for which they are qualified or as lunchroom supervisors;

(b) That employees who wish to remain are given first priority for whatever position is vacant for which the potentially laid-off employee is qualified;

(c) That restructuring of school office staff, both elementary and secondary, be done by attrition over a three-year period;

(d) That regular program educational assistants and school office staff who wish to retrain be supported in doing so with costs shared equally, dollar-for-dollar, with the appropriate employee union or federation;

(e) That staff meet with the employee union or federation to find ways to address the budget while preserving services in schools by keeping more full-time positions, such as by identifying up to 80% of the temp school office budget used to permanent, full-time positions like caretakers unassigned staff, to provide trained replacements in the school;

(f) That staff present a report back on the status of implementation of the above within 30 days.

   Moved by Trustee Moyer, Seconded by Trustee Kaplan

Regular Program Educational Assistants

The fight to keep the Regular Program Education Assistants at full complement of 493.5 was lost as the Trustees voted to lay off 430 EAs (63.5 in French Immersion and Inner City Schools will remain in place).

However, because of the very public fight-back, led by the Union Executive, the retraining program for which we fought over the past three years will be implemented.  We believe that members have a number of options. They should be given a choice among these options:

  • retrain as an ECE while still working;
  • sever employment; be laid off after the BB** process; or
  • seek to be considered for positions in other categories based on skills and abilities (ZZ21).

This took Local 4400 working with the Minister of Education, Members of Provincial Parliament, Trustees and senior staff at the Board.  Further details will be coming out shortly.

We are still not convinced that the TDSB can function without more Regular Program Educational Assistants.  Not only are there still half-day Kindergartens (with only one adult in the room), but the other duties performed (working with undiagnosed special needs youngsters, supporting children who do not speak English as a Second Language or providing supervision) will not disappear with the loss of the workers.    The struggle continues through June when the budget is finalized.

updates:  cupe4400.org

** BB is the collective agreement article on “Surplus/Transfer/Bumping/:ay-off/Recall Procedures” in the collective agreement.

*CUPE 4400’s Recording & Corresponding Secretary, Katie McGovern,  shared this with CPE on April 13, 2012

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