Support staff from Edmonton’s Catholic schools will form a picket line Monday after rejecting offers from the district regarding wages and job protection.
About 916 members of Edmonton Catholic School Support Staff local 52-A plan to picket in front of the district’s downtown headquarters Monday starting at 8 a.m., leaving Catholic schools in the city without media resource staff, special needs assistants and secretarial workers.
Union spokesperson Daniel Burrell said support staff are frustrated with job erosion, where hours are reduced wages are increased but hours are reduced.
“A 35-hour week is considered full time… and over the last few years, some of them have been cut down to 21 hours per week, which is less time than the students are in school. Yet they’re still expected to provide same or even more duties.”
Edmonton Catholic School District spokesperson Lori Nagy said the district has a contingency plan in place that will allow principals to hire support staff if needed. All schools will remain open and buses will still be running, and parents were informed of the strike in letters sent home Friday.
“This is a difficult time for everyone at Edmonton catholic schools, because these are our colleagues, these are our wonderful people that have important roles throughout the district. … It would be dishonest to say schools that will run the same as before the strike, because these are crucial roles,” Nagy told Metro.
Special-needs students who require a constant aide will likely feel the impact of the strike most. Nagy said principals were informing parents of these students directly to determine their needs.
The district has also asked the Alberta Labour Board to hold a supervised vote, where Local 52-A members can vote directly on the offer the board is bringing forward without going through their union. Information on the vote is available to support staff here.
The vote is likely to take place in the middle of next week.