Picketers back on the line Tuesday

Raissa Tetanish
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Published on January 27, 2014

Hundreds of custodians, bus drivers and tradespeople are picketing outside the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board offices Monday morning after rejecting the school board's latest offer in a ratification vote held Sunday.

Published on January 27, 2014

Picketers line the sidewalk along Lorne Street in Truro in front of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board offices.

Published on January 27, 2014

Hundreds of bus drivers, custodians and tradespeople with CUPE Local 3890 picketed outside the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board offices Monday morning after rejecting the board's latest offer in a ratification vote on Sunday.

Published on January 27, 2014

Brandon Crowell, from left, Joanne Crowell, Sherri Bennett and Judy Brown were just four of the hundreds of CUPE Local 3890 members picketing after rejecting the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board's offer on Sunday.

Published on January 27, 2014

Tony Taylor, a bus driver for students in East Hants, shows off a sign during a strike Monday morning outside the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board offices in Truro.

CUPE workers, school board disagree on mediation

TRURO – It was a somber mood along the sidewalk of Lorne Street Monday morning as hundreds of union members took to the picket line.

TRURO - Striking members of CUPE Local 3890 will be back on the picket line this morning.

More than 400 custodians, bus drivers and tradespeople are on strike to demand job security from the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and showed up en masse Monday in front of the board's offices on Lorne Street with signs to make their intentions known.

Rumours began to circulate Monday that the two sides agreed to mediation, but those rumours were quashed by John McCracken, the communications representative for CUPE.

"At one point in the day it looked like we might get to that point (mediation)," McCracken said. "But it didn't come to fruition, so we'll be on the picket line (Tuesday) morning.

"That's bargaining," McCracken added. "That's like every round of bargaining I've ever been involved in."

Members of Local 3890 voted 54 per cent during a ratification vote Sunday to strike, leaving the board's 20,000 students to find their own transportation to and from school, as about 100 buses are off the road. All extra-curricular activities have been cancelled, and schools will not be available for use by non-school groups. Cleaning is also down to nights and weekends and will be carried out by management and non-unionized staff.

The picketers weren't a happy lot on the line on Monday as the majority walked with placards around their necks.

"The signs say it all," said one picketer, who wished to remain anonymous. "We're afraid our jobs are being contracted out and the board is bullying us. It's a sombre mood in that we had to go on strike."

The picketers caused some headaches for people trying to make their way around the area Monday morning. Several other offices are located in the same building as the school board and Cobequid Educational Centre, which saw exams begin for its students on Monday, sits next door.

Traffic was backed up in both directions on Lorne at times as picketers slowly made their way across the driveways to the offices and schools and at least one student was frustrated as she attempted to get to school.

"I'm trying to get to my exam so hurry up and get out of the way," she screamed out her rolled down window as she sat behind a vehicle trying to turn into the school board offices.

Once the way was clear the student sped down Lorne Street to the school.

Debbie Buott-Matheson, communications manager with the school board, said Monday morning no meetings had been scheduled at that point to resume talks between the board and CUPE.

"It's only day one, so no, nothing has been scheduled," she said, as the picketers continued outside the offices. "But I'm sure those will come as we continue on."

A number of drivers honked to show their support to the members on strike, and one picketer was passing out doughnuts, which he said were courtesy of a teacher.

Education Minister Karen Casey, who is the MLA for Colchester North, said things are in the works to support the students.

"We're working as a government to determine what we can do and how we can do it so that students don't suffer," she said. "I expect we'll have something shortly. We're looking at all our options right now to get the students into the classrooms."

Truro Police Chief David MacNeil said the department received some calls Monday morning concerning the traffic congestion.

"We want people to be aware that they may expect traffic delays but to be patient, and use an alternate route if possible," he said. "Or even leave a little earlier."


Twitter: @TDNRaissa


Organizations: Central Regional School Board, Cobequid Educational Centre

Geographic location: Lorne Street, Chignecto

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Recent comments

  • We Do Care!!
    January 28, 2014 - 12:49

    Just to let you all know that I was on the picket line today and we did not stop any student from entering the school. I felt that we were all respectful to every student. It has nothing to do with the students. Many of the students waved to us and gave us thumbs up. We care about our students, and they know it. For all of you who wrote negative comments you had to be there to see that we were respectful of all entering and leaving the school. Now that the strike is over we will be that same respectful person driving the children to and from school each day.. Thanks for all of the support we received this morning. Lots of people out there honked their horns in support and even brought us coffee. There still are people out there who understand the process, but many who obviously do not.

    • Robert
      January 28, 2014 - 13:33

      So... my friend's daughter called to tell him that when she tried to get into the highschool parking lot this morning, she was stopped by the picketers (new driver, already nervous). She had to inch (slowly) into the picket line to get the picketers to move and let her in. It took some time to do it safely and almost caused her to be late for her classes. She was obviously upset by the whole incident. Doesn't sound like all your brothers and sisters were respecting students. Maybe you should try to get your own people to understand the same process you're trying to get us to understand.

  • charlotte
    January 28, 2014 - 12:07

    why are school exams not cancelled until strike is over- the children shouldn't be made in the way- I blame school board here- they are making parents have to decide and possibly go against their beliefs - one way or other- no parent wants to see their kids miss their exams so this is unfair tatic - let the two sides decide without kids caught in middle

    • Robert
      January 28, 2014 - 12:33

      The union has the choice of when to strike and where to picket. The blame is squarely on their shoulders. They could have done this in the summer and they could have limited their strike action to the school board building in Truro. They specifically chose to disrupt exams and target the children as it would cause the most stress and grief to their employer. It's how unions work. The more damage and stress you can cause, the better your chances of winning as the public will, ultimately, put the most pressure on their employer when it affects them directly. Classic bullying tactic.

  • noodle
    January 28, 2014 - 11:32

    Unions used to be a valuable asset to the common working person, but over the years as they've become more powerful they've created their own class of worker. Now, instead of protecting the common worker they discriminate against any job applicant who is not a union member. Non-union workers don't even get a fair chance to join the union because all the jobs are tied up among the union members and their families. Hardly makes a common worker want to support them, particularly when the tax dollars used to prop up the public sector union salaries are being taken from the much lower paycheques of the non-union workers.

  • Kevin
    January 28, 2014 - 11:09

    Simply Nova Scotia school boards are very top heavy in both administrative and supervisory areas. Instead of cutting a very top heavy administration (themselves) they want to privatize front line employees jobs. Take $16/hr custodian jobs, turn them into minimum wage paying an additional few dollars an hour for the contractor and save a $1 or two. There are statistics that show our school board administrations are many times larger than those in other countries like US. Turning half decent paying jobs into minimum wage positions to save near six and six figure positions is this best for the Province. Much better than considering cutting the giant bureaucracy called the school board. If close enough to hear it seems like every time you turn around another high paying title is added. These managerial, supervisory and very specific positions are added with the conception how did we ever do without that position before. On top of these titles often require support staffs and budgets which also tend to grow. What once was a simple school board to keep an eye on curriculum has like most government departments grown and grown to monstrous size and encompassment. This administrative establishment that grows is desperate to find monies the last place they will look to cut is within their own offices, titles, managerial staffing and budgets. Yes one can blame the custodians and drivers for not wanting to be laid off and go begging for their job back through a contractor at minimum wage. Or maybe this growing bureaucracy should not be self-governing and expanding when taxes are already at a maximum.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 28, 2014 - 09:44

    Union Strike + Picketing driveway entrances by preventing or by delaying people from entering for whatever reason = Bullying!! Plain and simple. It's time that no public building driveway or highway should be interfered with by any strike whatsoever. Lets get our legislators to pass whatever laws are necessary to prevent this. Legal strikes are not the problem here but bullying is and blocking public access to any public building or premises is just that!!! PS anyone else having a difficult time seeing the jumbled code to submit our comments. I had to try multiple times before getting through finally!

    • come on now!
      January 28, 2014 - 10:49

      I am sorry but this is a ridiculous comment and shows just how messed up this whole bullying thing is. Have they been following you for weeks and blocking your car? Did they threaten you with violence? Slash your tires? The anti-bullying movement is supposed to a support for people who are being seriously harassed. Please do not demean what is for some a very serious and possibly life threatening situation. Comments like this help to take all the power out of the term bullying

  • Rebecca
    January 28, 2014 - 09:14

    This morning my newly licensed daughter drove herself to school and was terrified by strikers. Being young, newly licensed, no experience with strikes she was extremely upset! Now... I am upset... These people are working with our kids?? Seriously, they should be fired for intimidating the kids! Yes, I understand unions... I belong to one, DO NOT intimidate our children. This is ridiculous, Chignecto central.... fire them...

  • Wandy
    January 28, 2014 - 07:27

    Why are the picketers blocking the school driveways and not letting the parents out or the kids in? I was sympathetic, but not anymore.

  • Jim Grace
    January 28, 2014 - 01:21

    Most of these comments are accurate and reasonable. The system cannot keep paying more , it is just not financially possible. The result is either higher taxes or more debt or both. If the economy grows at 2% then a 2% raise would reasonable but what is the economy growing at? Just do not say "it does not matter".

  • Allan
    January 28, 2014 - 00:34

    Security, why do they deserve it when no one else has it.? I call bull on it not bein about wages, once they get rtheir 10% over 4 or 5 years...they wilk be back to work!!!!

  • Dave
    January 27, 2014 - 21:10

    Why does every government worker figure they are entitled to job security.I know those of us that work out here in the real world have no job security. Please explain it to us!!!!!

  • Ron T
    January 27, 2014 - 18:19

    It has nothing to with wages. It has to do with maintenance workers. They know they are on the chopping block. Why have someone like an electrician stand around for a week waiting for something to break when a contractor can be called. Janitors and bus drivers always have work to do and I can't believe a strike was voted for. I hope all of this don't effect the kids too much.

  • Annoyed
    January 27, 2014 - 18:04

    I work in one of the daycare facilities in the building and do not appreciate waiting to get into the parking lot so that I can do my job. I understand their reasonings for striking, I support them, but please stop blocking the entrances for the rest of the people who have nothing to do with the strike or a union. Some of our parents had to wait a long time to drop their children off and in turn were late for their own jobs. It's ridiculous.

  • Realistic
    January 27, 2014 - 17:10

    All this over 2 employees not being hired back? If the union wants to secure jobs they should put themselves in a position where the board would have no reason to contract because it won't save them money. But that would mean competing in the real world. They should fire the lot of them and contract out the whole mess of it. Sick of my tax dollars being held hostage - now my kids are being held too. Hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as job security in the real world - no profits, no job and income. Count yourselves lucky & get back to work.

  • Parent
    January 27, 2014 - 16:58

    It is a shame that the students have to suffer because two groups of people have a problem. I don't know the answer to this problem,but a strike puts everyone in a very bad situation

  • therepo
    January 27, 2014 - 15:23

    30% of Canadian are in a union 1,028 lockouts/strikes in 1980, 175 in 2010 wage increases = approx cost of living increases "We’re afraid our jobs are being contracted out" which equals loosing your job. There are those that like unions, and those that hate them. Are you willing to give up the benefits these organizations have secured for you? sick leave, vacation, gender equal pay, weekends... you have heard this all before. If you would rather that, and split a job with two or three others go for it. These people with the signs are loosing money trying to keep their jobs.

    • noodle
      January 28, 2014 - 11:59

      The work should be contracted out if that's the most efficient and cost effective means of getting the job done. It's unreasonable to expect any employer to continue paying for an unnecessary position, particularly when the wage is being funded by tax dollars. While we all appreciate the benefits unions have given us in the past, we cannot continue to show our gratitude at the extravagant prices the unions demand. We're broke - the money is just not there.

  • Susie Q
    January 27, 2014 - 14:15

    I would just like to say that C.C.R.S.B is not on strike due to wages. It has to do with job security. It would be great if people knew the issues and made comments on those issues.

    • Robert
      January 27, 2014 - 20:21

      It would also be great if people didn't upset or disrupt my child's education for their own, personal, gain... but we're dealing with Unionists here. Nothing matters more than what they want... matters not who it harms to get it. They could have done this work action in the summer. You would have had ALL our support if you had. Just should have come out and told the public that to spare our children the hardship, you were delaying job action until July. You'd have won public opinion... but nope... no leverage without hostages. Well done.

  • Doug P
    January 27, 2014 - 12:49

    Disneyland unionism. Where wages only go up and never down. Wages are simply prices, if they are prevented from reflecting productivity and are raised beyond what can be paid, then unemployment is the result. In a world without such ignorance wages would be flexible both ways depending on the collective valuations of the customers who pay for education (in this case the taxpayer). But as long as Disneyland unionism exists the true believers will have their cake , your cake, my cake and will eat them all.

  • Mediaboy
    January 27, 2014 - 12:48

    These striking workers need to consider the area's poor economy and be glad they have jobs. If the 450 striking workers all resigned en masse those jobs would be filled immediately by those who would be willing to work for the union's pre-strike wages. The strike is also disrupting exams for high school students, the vast majority of whom must travel by bus. This is one strike where public sympathy will be severely lacking. The board should lock them out and hire all new workers.

    • craig
      January 27, 2014 - 14:14

      They would have a hard time filling the skilled trades positions at $22 per hour.Even non-union employers don't pay that low. The contact ran out March 2012.After nearly two years of negotiations,the union asked for binding arbitration and the board locks them out.The school board should take some of the blame.

  • Georgie Porgie
    January 27, 2014 - 12:47

    “We asked CUPE, out of respect for our high school students, to hold their strike until the end of exam week. These exam results will have a bearing for many Grade 12 students on post-secondary applications, scholarships and bursaries,” said Thompson. “CUPE denied that request.” Umm...the last I heard...people have the right to strike. The School Board could have postponed exams until after the strike if it is going to be so stressful for students. It is b/c the board would not negotiate we are in this situation. Bullying in school is supposed to stop. Maybe the picketers should wear those pink anti-bullying shirts...as CCRSB are doing that to them.

  • AprilFirst
    January 27, 2014 - 12:44

    There are almost 30,000 people drawing EI in Nova Scotia at this time. I'm not sympathetic to your cause and there are a great many people who will do your job in a heartbeat, regardless of who signs their paycheque. I think your stance is more than a little self-serving. You are putting the health and welfare of our children beneath your own absurd demands for what no person is guaranteed in this day and age, in any job, at any level. I have zero tolerance of people who hold their breath until their face turns blue.

  • taxpayer
    January 27, 2014 - 11:46

    I agree with f.smith school board should agreed to go to arbitration then there would be no strike the school board was scared that they would not get there way on contracting out put it in writing saying no workers will be laid off when you contract work out and recall laid off workers back if there is work made for contractors there is work for laid off workers the way is see this the school board is like a kid play by my rules or I will take my ball home the school board wanted this strike to save money they should do away with some off the high paying jobs at the central off to many there now maybe the lib. government should do as what they are going to do with the health board make it 1 or 2 so they can save on the high paid and over staffed jobs at central office

  • justme
    January 27, 2014 - 11:36

    Custodians don't make that much money. Starting rate is 15.15 an hour. And they don't get paid for the days they don't work. They also work during school shut downs such as march break, doing the things than can't be done while students are in. They stay later in the summer, and come back earlier in the fall than everyone else.

  • Concened For The Students
    January 27, 2014 - 11:04

    By all means picket in front of the School Board office. You have that right. Please leave the students out of it. They are not involved in the contract debate. Exams are stressful enough without having this extra headache. They don't deserve this. Things are interrupted enough for them with no busing, let them into the school!

  • Doug P
    January 27, 2014 - 11:03

    If this were treated as a protest the police would make sure the lanes are clear for safety reasons. But when unions do it they can shut down thoroughfare and the police suddenly forget their job. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- What shocking is that 54% of the membership voted to strike...That is just plain sad. There must be a lot of people out there who would rather be working right now if they were not -forced- to be an unemployed union member. Honking for unions is the equivalent of honking for looters in a natural disaster.

  • Jake
    January 27, 2014 - 10:45

    Recently I overheard a conversation about a mother and her daughter, her mother said I want you to be a custodian at one of the schools in the Chignecto School Board we make very good money and you will not make money out there like this and you have good vacation. Who wants there child to be a janitor, Concerned parents.

  • F Smith
    January 27, 2014 - 10:02

    I cannot belive that the School Board rejected going to arbitration on the grounds that the union may win. What if the School Board wins, the union was willing to take that change. This is my or the highway, too bad the school board is not willing to keep the childs transportation that the taxpayer is paying for eventho there is no bus services.

    • Doug P
      January 27, 2014 - 11:14

      When you don't want to give in at all ( which is a perfectly defensible position) then arbitration simply does not work. Arbitration makes sure that the party that wants to give nothing must give something when sometimes it can not. Arbitration always benefits the union grabbing for more. It never favors the employer looking to reduce wages or benefits for the sake of budgeting. The unions know that arbitration will always get them at the very least something more than they had. When is the last time arbitration succeeded in lowering salaries and benefits for proper cost accounting? The answer is well never. A tax payer should have no interest in arbitration or dealing with rampet unionism. They loose both ways.

  • Adam
    January 27, 2014 - 09:30

    If they are not happy with their job, can I have it? Please?

  • Kathleen. V. Stone
    January 27, 2014 - 09:29

    I had no idea what was going on; I had to drop my daughter off for training at 9:30a.m., and had a hard time getting in and out. Meghan could hardly walk due to a bad fall on Saturday. She hurt her tailbone, otherwise I would never have gone through the picket line. My heart goes out to those picketers involved.

  • concerned parent
    January 27, 2014 - 09:21

    maybe that girl ought to have had the foresight to know that the world doesn't revolve around her and leave earlier. what did she(her parent) expect the waters to part for her?

    • Doug P
      January 27, 2014 - 11:18

      Or maybe people should understand you can't surround a building and deny entry or harass and threaten people. Keep drinking the kool-aid folks, unionism is about violence not something to be celebrated and cheered on.

  • Aurora
    January 27, 2014 - 09:18

    Given the havoc that this is causing for parents and students, I find the "brother and sisters unite" signs painfully annoying.

    • therepo
      January 27, 2014 - 10:35

      I am saddened the "brother and sisters unite" sign causes you dismay. If you stop and think why this is happening you may understand that the world is not so simple. While everyone’s time is valuable one should consider that it may soon be less so. Anyone in any job can be replaced by cheaper workers. Sign reading may be a good hobby for many while looking for new work or during time off between permanent part time jobs.

    • Aurora2
      January 27, 2014 - 13:14

      Reading is wonderful, but much like the CUPE website and statements to the media they've made to date, these particular signs do not make anyone aware of what's going on nor does it explain their position and reason for strike. This is why I say it is painfully annoying. There is a real issue here: but CUPE has not released a single statement (on a picket sign or otherwise) that indicates the single item they want on the table that CCRSB has refused to agree to. The parents and students who are going through these people to gain access to schools have a right to know. They want to gain support? Sorry, but "brothers and sisters unite" doesn't earn my support for this strike. If you're willing to strike for it – you should be willing to come right out and say it. Why don't they?

    • therepo
      January 27, 2014 - 18:07

      It seems difficult to find information from either side of this dispute. Maybe part of these negotiations are private until votes are taken? The part that I find most interesting is the amount of people who easily pass judgement or opinion on these people. Especially when all the facts are not present. Would these same people feel the same if others inform them how they should keep their job or what wages they should make.? Even better, those who are unaware of the situation, the background, and who are upset that their day is in a disarray?