WHITECOURT — After returning to the bargaining table Tuesday for the second time since Living Waters Catholic Schools support staff were forced to strike on Sept. 28, an agreement has still not been reached with the employer.
“The Living Waters Board continues to propose an agreement that fails to value and respect the important work these members do, providing crucial supports to students. They are purposefully prolonging this strike,” said AUPE vice-president Rod Feland.
“In fact, at our meeting Tuesday, the employer proposed a number of significant reductions that would harm student learning and make it harder for these working Albertans to make ends meet.
“These workers have been fighting to make Living Waters schools better places for students and the staff who support them. They have been met with disregard and disrespect every step of the way,” said Feland.
Since the strike began, support for the workers in their communities has been overwhelming. Students, parents and supporters have shown up to the picket lines en masse to show their encouragement; local MLAs and municipal leaders have brought words of support; and a retired teacher even dropped by with 30 turkeys in Edson to help these workers have a good Thanksgiving.
“It’s clear the community understands the worth of their school support staff,” said Feland. “This has kept spirits high on the line, every day.”
Some striking workers from Living Waters Catholic Schools will join AUPE’s Convention at the Shaw Conference Center, 9797 Jasper Ave. in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. 13 for a special introduction.
Members are looking for defined hours of work to create a more stable environment for students, whose learning is suffering from volatile staff scheduling. They also want compensation to cover the rising cost of living.
AUPE represents more than 93,000 members province-wide. The 120 Living Waters members work as financial assistants, library clerks, educational assistants, secretaries, typists, custodians and in maintenance in Edson, Slave Lake and Whitecourt.
Tyler Bedford, AUPE senior communications officer: 780-298-7626