Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

October 06, 2010 12:12 ET

School Custodians Challenge Public School Trustee Candidates "To Come Clean" This Election

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Oct. 6, 2010) -

The Edmonton Public School custodial workers union; CUPE Local 474, has launched a newspaper and radio ad campaign challenging candidates for Public School Trustees to take a stand on improving school cleaning standards.

"For the past twenty years Edmonton Public Schools have cut custodial staff whenever a school had a deficit," says Doug Luellman, President of CUPE Local 474. "Unlike other school districts in Alberta or across Canada we have no centralized district cleaning standards or a custodial department; cleaning decisions are left up to school administration, which means that there can be no district wide cleaning standards."

Studies done on cleaning and student achievement show that clean schools mean decreased absenteeism by students and staff due to illness, and better test results. The union has proven contracting out does not work in the public interest and is challenging Edmonton Public Schools Site Based Management model of education delivery when it comes to custodial services.

"Trustee candidates need to address the fact that site based management does not work when it comes to delivering standardized cleaning in schools," says Luellman. "In order to have district wide cleaning standards these services need to be centralized in a custodial department, which would oversee custodial staff, cleaning supplies and equipment issued to each school. Currently these are left up to the decision of the school principal. In the worst case we have schools that cut school custodial staff, and supplies in order to purchase new school computers or Xerox machines."

The union has been promoting green cleaning in Edmonton Public Schools, reducing the harmful chemicals used to clean with in order to protect custodial workers and students and staff.

"A major concern we have is that each school is its own franchise and they can purchase cleaning supplies from any vendor they wish. In order to implement a green cleaning program across the district centralized purchasing is required, this is problematic when each school is run like a franchise under the control of the Principal." says Luellman.

The union is challenging school board Trustee candidates to take a stand on making Edmonton Public Schools clean and green by supporting the end of site based management of custodial services and creating a Custodial Department that would provide all Edmonton Public School with a level playing field when it came to school cleanliness.

CUPE is Canada's largest union with close to half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPE's 30,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and www.cupealberta.ab.ca

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