February 27, 2018
To Chairperson Dixon, Superintendent Sheppard, Trustees & Staff –

Thank you for the opportunity to send in the concerns of CUPE Local 1091, your Delta School District Support Staff union, with regards to the upcoming budget process.
Every year at this time your Education Partners, including CUPE, come to you “hat in hand” asking that you stop making cuts to the lower end of the budget scale. And every year, with one or two minor exceptions, these requests go mostly ignored.

Last year we came to you when the District was going to reduce its Education Assistant budget by 28 FTE’s which included 5 FTE’s for the Allocation
Ratio Change. The 23 FTE’s which related to enrollment reductions equated to 62 employees receiving job elimination notices (or layoffs) and while the District voted to reinstate the monetary equivalent of the 5 other FTE’s ($234,136) you left it up to the Inclusive Learning Team to decide where that money was going to be best utilized and did not specify that it should be used for direct EA support in the classroom.

It’s important that you know the negative impact the decision to so drastically cut jobs has had on our EA’s and the students they support.

EA morale and job satisfaction are extremely low. You now have more job dissatisfaction amongst your EA staff than ever before. CUPE executive members, including myself, have been to more meetings at schools since September supporting EA’s because of stress, work overload and violence in the workplace than ever before. We have seen many more EA’s leaving this District. They are going elsewhere because they can get more hours, better pay, more job security and more support for their work in other Districts. Many of them are also choosing retirement as a premature option as a result. The chronic staff shortages that continue to exist and fester only acerbate the burnout that is so prevalent among EAs in our district. You cannot continue to ask less staff to do more work and expect that everything will be ok – the evidence shows otherwise.

Right now there are still approx. 8 EA’s who received layoff notices last June that are not in posted positions. They are working from the callout list and are continuing to have to pay for their benefits during this time. Of the other 54 EA’s who received their layoff notices last June, most of those are only working in Temporary jobs – either recalled to what may have been their former position or filling a new position that was required only for this school year. That means that these 54 will still be without a continuing job come this June as those temporary postings will cease to exist and the temporary recall period will have ended. Will you be adding to those numbers in April? Will you be doing away with more classroom EA’s in order to balance the bottom line?

We know our Delta teachers are also struggling with the lack of EA support in their classrooms. CUPE is working closely with our DTA colleagues in this regard and support school-based teams in using the restored Collective Agreement language on School Staff Committees to ensure that all needed supports are in place in each and every classroom in Delta.

The Custodial Department is, once again, another area of great concern to CUPE. With only 82 FTE’s across all sites in the District it is next to impossible to have a proper level of cleaning that equates to a positive learning or working environment for students and staff.

The 2017 CUPE BC custodial survey showed dismal results from all areas of this province, and included responses from 55 Delta custodians.
Below are some of the key findings:

  • Many custodians work more than one job
  • Not enough time to do the work given to them by the employer
  • Work has become more hazardous
  • Given less time to clean the same areas they previously had
  • Told to lower their expectations of cleanliness
  • Some cleaning is not getting done due to increased and/or unrealistic workloads.

The District continues to face challenges with recruitment and retention in this department, with many employees coming and going from their employment within the first year or two. Casuals cannot get enough sustainable work in Delta as replacement budgets are not sufficient enough for staff to always be called in when regular employees are ill, are on a wcb claim, or take vacation or other leaves. This puts tremendous pressure on the staff left working at these sites to complete the extra cleaning when no casuals are provided and leaves the doors wide open for casual staff to go to other Districts where they can get consistent work and benefits

I continually hear that “more efficient technology is in place” and “improved cleaning products are available” so staff can do their jobs faster and better. If you don’t staff properly it won’t matter how many new cleaning machines or products are available, manpower drives the use of both and without the proper amount of manpower you’re just spinning your wheels.

And why is there still a necessity for 3 exempt managers in the custodial department? The District has only 1 exempt manager in the Maintenance Department who utilizes the knowledge and expertise of his CUPE trades foremen to ensure that the balance of the department staff are working on track and on time. Surely the Custodial department could use this model and better utilize the knowledge, skills and abilities of its 33 CUPE leadhands and foremen in the same manner thus alleviating the need for additional exempt managers.

Lack of recruitment and retention in skilled trades positions continues to be a real concern for CUPE. This District faces ongoing challenges recruiting qualified red seal workers because the salary scale being offered is lower, not only in comparison to other lower mainland school districts, but provincially as well. Without proper funding for these positions Delta faces the distinct possibility of having to make more and more “conditional hires” as they will be unable to find fully qualified tradespeople for these positions.

Delta School District needs to stop the cuts to the support staff that are working directly with our most vulnerable students and needs to increase and sustain custodial and trades staffing levels to ensure that proper and healthy standards can be met in and around our schools and worksites.

Students deserve to have the staff they need in order to be successful learners and staff deserve to have secure jobs with decent wages and safe working conditions.

Thank you
Patti Price
President CUPE Local 1091