Charlottetown – CUPE Local 3260, which represents over 800 Education support workers in PEI, is calling on politicians of all stripes to hear what front-line staff have to say to improve the quality of education on the Island.
“Political parties, particularly the PCs, have been rather quiet in this election on what measures they will take to improve K-12 education. There are a lot of challenges in the sector that are unnecessarily happening. Why did Premier King let our bargaining situation degrade to the point where we are at this very moment in the arbitration process?” asked Carolyn Vandaele, President of CUPE Local 3260. “We should have had a new contract by now, but instead, the Education Minister has let the situation fester because apparently, they don’t believe in wages that go above inflation for front-line workers,” added Vadaele.
The Educational Support workers have been without a contract since April 1, 2021. The union is seeking better contract language and better wages to tackle recruitment and retention in their sector.
“When inflation is this high and our pay cheques are going behind, the government should not be nickel-and-diming the people making inclusive education possible on PEI,” said Vandaele.
Local 3260 conducted internal polling, which showed that over 50 percent of members need a second job in order to put gas in their cars and food on their tables for their families. One member shared just how this affected her: “I am really feeling the brunt of the last 5 years of constantly holding down after-school and summer jobs. The mental toll that it takes to organize, schedule and complete the after-school jobs that I do is huge.”
“Our members need to hear from each political party what measures they would put in place to improve working conditions in our sector. It’s not easy making a living when you are only promised about 6 hours a day for 10 months a year,” concluded Vandaele.
CUPE Local 3260 represents over 800 Educational Assistants and Youth Service Workers, Student Attendants, Workplace Assistants, and Education Interpretation Workers in the PEI school system.