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 Post subject: CUPE Strike
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:59 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
In Ontario CUPE, the union which includes school caretakers, is planning to strike. It might be rotating strikes.

Does anyone feel their child is at additional risk at school if the caretakers are striking? Have you spoken to anyone (principal, union, superintendent) to find out what if anything will be done to keep your child safe?

Is there anything we can do (like using Sabrina's Law) to ensure that fa kids will not lose out on more educational days then their peers due to these strikes?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:38 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Ontario, Canada
Hi, Anna Marie!

I have spoken to my principal about the kids' safety and apparently staff cannot offer any assistance. I can either come in and do the cleaning normally done for my children, or take them out of school.

As I said in the peanutallergy board, I don't think this is fair -- my kids being the only ones effected by strike action -- and I'd like either the school board, the Ministry of Education or the union itself to come up with a contigency plan so someone (besides me) will be able to provide the custodial services necessary to maintain a healthy and safe environment for PA kids in the event of a strike, legal or otherwise.

I have written the Minister of Education asking him to consider this issue; he has apparently formed an advisors group on how to implement Sabrina's Law. His email is minister@edu.gov.on.ca

I also contacted the local CUPE branch (for Simoce County): http://www.cupelocal1310.com. More general info here: http://www.cupe.on.ca

I also contacted someone whom I think is the chair of the Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group -- learned about this group after coming across the presentations made to the Ministry of Education in support of Sabrina's law. I don't know if I have the right e-mail address as I haven't heard back yet.

I also plan to write the Ministry of Education and the Simcoe County District Schoolboard asking them to consider a backup plan in the event custodians strike again in the future.

Your concerns are mine, exactly. Why should they lose educational days when their peers will not, just because of their PA? I think this should be addressed and it seems to me it could be worked into protocol somewhere.

I do think strike action presents an increased risk. If I say "no big deal" that the custodians can't do their usual things to help keep my kids safe, how can I ask for their support during the rest of the school year? A safe environment has to be maintained at all times, and my kids should not be the only ones to lose "the opportunity to learn" because this is threatened due to a strike.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
It will not only be allergic children who will be directly affected by the strike. All children will be. As a teacher, I know that children with physical disabilities or severe intellectual disabilities will not be able to attend safely since their EA's will not be there. Also many schools use CUPE staff for yard duty. This is not a safe situation for any child to be out at recess with minimal supervision. Children with behaviour difficulties will also be at school without the supervision of an EA. In reality, schools will not really be safe for any child without CUPE staff. Sabrina's law has nothing to do with this situation.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:38 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Ontario, Canada
Sorry, Katec. I didn't mean to disrespect others who will be affected by the strike. I guess I'm a little confused about all the pending strikes. I thought EAs were debating their own separate strike. I thought custodians were the only ones affected by the proposed CUPE job action. At our school, it is the teachers themselves on yard duty, so I wasn't aware that the safety of all kids on the playground could be compromised in other schools.

I don't agree that Sabrina's Law has nothing to do with the strike, however. I think all allergic people can pursue the line that some backup should be provided to maintain allergic kids' safety during strike action, and that others affected -- children with physical disabilities or severe intellectual disabilities or behavioural difficultiies -- should contact relevant support associations and lobby for the same protection.

When the "normal" kids are not being affected by the action, don't have to stay home for their own safety -- unless the province closes entire schools for general safety concerns -- I don't think it's right just to tell parents of all special-needs (for lack of a better phrase) kids to pull their kids out. This appears to be the only alternative now, but it needn't be for ever.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:15 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
I really didn't read in your message any disrespect - I just wanted to point out that in my opinion - schools will not really be safe for all kids - special needs and "regular" kids. Teachers have been directed that they cannot take on the duties of CUPE staff - which include: EA's, secretaries, custodians, and library techs. The principal will take on all of these additional duties. In my school, we have no vice principal so 1 person will fill in for about 10 people. If there is any kind of emergency situation in the school - lost child, injury, fire etc. There will be very limited extra staff to assist. At our school, junior and senior kindergarten students will be sent out on the school yard with the rest of the students (grades 1 - 8 ) at lunch recess since there will be no one to supervise them during my lunch time. If there is a strike, I think many elementary schools should be closed to keep students safe. I hope there isn't. I will be on the phone to my local MPP to discuss this tomorrow. I wouldn't count on any back up plans for allergic children from school boards. Sorry - but realistically there won't be. I would suggest daycare plans. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:05 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
I agree all the *special needs* children will be greatly affected. Additional risk to *regular* kids will be minimal. When the risk to them becomes serious - the school will be closed. This is really unfair.

randgmom, as you may know, my son doesn't have a food allergy - he's allergic to insects. I honestly feel your child is at a higher risk then mine, and yet, I still feel very shaky about taking him to school. I also feel that we shouldn't just sit back and keep taking this.

(I think I better stop for a while. I'm getting into rant mode again. :oops: )


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:09 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:38 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Ontario, Canada
I found information on who is and who isn't on strike action in our school board district. From the Simcoe County District School board web site: "The Simcoe County District School Board has been advised that its custodians and maintenance staff, represented by CUPE, may participate in a provincial job action on Thursday, February 23, 2006. School Secretaries and Educational Assistants are not part of CUPE and will attend at their usual duties."

"Please be aware that while CUPE represents Educational Assistants and secretarial staff at some school boards, in our Board Educational Assistants and office staff are not represented by CUPE."

So -- unless I've missed some really obvious point -- the only kids who will be affected in our school board area if strike action is limited to sporadic one-day walk-offs are those children who depend on custodians to maintain a healthy and safe environment for them.

I think either all schools should be automatically closed in the event of any strike action, or some other form of protection/service be offered these kids. It's particularly galling to have to keep my kids out of school when the strike action is illegal. I would hope for more support from the board in this case, but obviously I'm whistling Dixie at this point.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:38 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Ontario, Canada
I also wanted to make it clear that the reason I'm not crazy about keeping my kids home from school has nothing to do with daycare issues. I'm a stay-at-home mom. To me, it is a matter of equity and fair treatment. My kids are set apart and made to feel different often enough, even when everyone is trying their best; to be the only ones in their class not at school on strike day because the board offered no additional support, or CUPE made no provisions for children with identified health issues upsets me.


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