Media Release - September 21, 2022

COPE Local 527, representing Education Support Staff with Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), is deeply concerned with the recent media coverage regarding an incident which occurred at RA Riddell school.

Our Educational Assistants work with some of the most vulnerable students, and are some of the most dedicated, compassionate and caring staff with HWDSB. Educational Assistants are assigned to a school, and support multiple students, under the direction of the classroom teacher and school administrator.

The supervision and safety of students is the responsibility of the Education Team as a whole, and the care and wellbeing of students is the first priority of all staff concerned.

Our schools are underfunded, and understaffed. Students with special needs are often without the 1:1 support they require, often receiving highly limited Educational Assistant support as a result. This is a safety concern for all students, for staff, and the accountability must fall to the HWDSB and the Ministry of Education to provide and allocate appropriate funding to support the needs of these most vulnerable of students. Unions across this Province have been advocating for adequate funding, and staffing, to ensure the safety of both students and staff. The Ministry and the HWDSB are fully aware of the crisis within our classrooms. This recent incident is one of several recent incidents across the HWDSB, and is not a reflection on the staff, but is a result of the understaffing within our school system.

Recent statements and information released by the media do not necessarily represent facts, and the slanderous statements towards the Educational Assistants involved must not continue unaddressed. The lack of facts and equitable voices in media is misleading and does a huge disservice to the student population of HWDSB and further endangers the educational staff, who are the ones on the frontlines.

We appreciate the seriousness of this incident; we fully support our members and the work they do daily to support our most vulnerable students and stand by them as they continue to provide frontline support despite obstacles and challenges.

Susan Lucek, President COPE Local 527

Linda Kowalski, Vice President, COPE Local 527

Latest posts

LABOUR RELATIONS SPECIALIST - JOB POSTING

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Ontario (COPE Ontario) is seeking a full-time Labour Relations Specialist. COPE Ontario is a grassroots union with multiple workplaces across the province and is seeking to hire a Labour Relations Specialist. The Labour Relations Specialist works with their assigned Locals’ main contact for servicing at the members’ workplaces. Applicants should have demonstrated experience in, and an extensive knowledge of unions and labour relations to assist and expand the union’s capacity through bargaining strong collective agreements and representing members in workplaces.

REQUIREMENTS:

The selected candidate must be able to perform the following duties and other related duties:

  1. Membership Service: The Labour Relations Specialist is a resource person and advisor for members with work-related problems. In this regard, the Labour Relations Specialist shall a) provide assistance and accurate advice with grievances and discipline; b) advise members as to their rights and obligations under relevant legislation and regulations, their Collective Agreement, COPE Ontario constitution and the Local’s By-laws.
  2. Grievances, representation, arbitrations, and other legal matters: The Labour Relations Specialist advises and represents members; investigates, prepares, presents, and represents members in grievances with the assistance of Stewards and Executive officers; and assists with arbitrations, Labour Relations Board (or equivalent) proceedings and makes determinations on the merit and filing of grievances or resolving workplace/policy issues in alternative formats.
  3. Contract Negotiations: The Labour Relations Specialist, in conjunction with the local union, is the Chief spokesperson for sub-local bargaining teams, and is the lead for all tasks associated with contract negotiations, including research, drafting of contract proposals, bargaining, organizing around the bargaining process, conciliation, mediation, and preparation for job action.
  4. Resource to the Local’s Executive: The Labour Relations Specialist is a resource person and advisor to the local Executive and assists it in the carrying out of its duties. The Labour Relations Specialist shall provide support and mentorship of local executives and stewards. The Labour Relations Specialist will, unless otherwise advised, attend monthly Executive meetings, and shall report to the meeting, as deemed appropriate by the Executive. When requested, the Labour Relations Specialist shall attend membership and sub-local membership meetings, and Local committee meetings. Help organize general membership meetings, steward meetings, joint labour- management meetings, and arrange on-site location unit visits.
  5. External Liaison: The Labour Relations Specialist, in conjunction with the local union, is a liaison between the Local and the Local's Employers and other affiliated groups, including unions, political organizations, associations, students’ unions, etc.
  6. Administration and Training: The Labour Relations Specialist will aid the Local President and other officers to ensure the efficient operation of the Local’s Office in all administrative matters. Conduct workshops, presentations, and training as required.
  7. It is understood that the emphasis placed on the tasks in this job description may vary from time to time based on the needs of the locals. The setting of priorities shall be done in consultation with COPE Ontario’s Director.
  8. This job requires the employee to travel to different parts of the province and to work evenings and the occasional weekend as required. The workspace is flexible and the office space available is sometimes shared.

International Womens Day 2024

Celebrating International Women's Day!

Today, we honor the strength, resilience, and determination of women in the labour movement and beyond. On this International Women's Day, COPE Ontario proudly stands in solidarity with women workers everywhere, advocating for fair wages, safe working conditions, and gender equality in the workplace. 

Ontario Court of Appeals confirms Bill 124 is unconstitutional

Ontario Court of Appeals confirms Bill 124 is unconstitutional.

On 12 February 2024, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a decision that the wage-restraint legislation known as Bill 124 was unconstitutional. In a majority decision, the court affirmed a 2022 ruling which found that Bill 124 interfered with the freedom of association guarantee under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ontario Court of Appeal also found that, as a result of Bill 124, “organized public sector workers, many of whom are women, racialized and/or low-income earners, have lost the ability to negotiate for better compensation or even better work conditions that do not have a monetary value.”

MENTORSHIP PROGRAM 2024-2026 GUIDELINE AND STEPS

This program is designed to enable skill development for COPE Ontario members that will prove useful in the various sectors that COPE Ontario represents. Participants will gain knowledge and experience to ensure they grow and learn how best to strengthen our union while serving its members. Successful applicants chosen for the Mentorship Program will be trained in various positions including but not limited to becoming: a Labour Relations Specialist to cover all sectors, or a specialist in Healthcare or Education; Benefits Representative; or Organizer. Opportunities will also be available to become Instructors/Facilitators specializing in a variety of topics and areas of labour priorities. Locals of COPE Ontario will be responsible for ensuring all necessary arrangements are made for their member’s lost time. It is expected that the cost of lost time will be shared by all three parties: the Local Union, COPE Ontario, and the participating member.

Share this page

Sign up for updates