CUPE 1480, the union representing education support workers at the LDSB, was taken aback this past week by Limestone District Board Trustees advocating for wage raises for executive staff, but not for other education workers.
A letter sent to the Minister of Education, Honourable Stephen Lecce, two weeks ago by the Chair of LDSB Trustees, Suzanne Ruttan, made a plea about reconsidering a decade-long freeze on executive compensation to the local Board across the provincial education sector.
“In 2010, with the passing of the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act (BPSAA), the Act was presented as a measure of fiscal restraint. This was followed by the amendment made in 2012 to freeze salaries for executive employees. In 2017, the Ministry initiated the Executive Compensation Program. Staff and trustees worked diligently to present a comprehensive Executive Compensation Framework approved by the Ministry and the Board of Trustees in early 2018. The approved Executive Compensation Framework was then unexpectedly frozen in August 2018,” the report read.
However, the report made no mention that in 2018, the Ford government brought in Bill 124, which restricted public sector wage increases to 1%.
“We have never seen support from trustees shown for education workers wages as they have just shown for Sr. executive staff, most of whom are on the annual sunshine list,” Erin Provost, President CUPE 1480, said.
The Ontario Sunshine list publishes the salary, benefit, and severance information of public employees making $100,000 or higher.
According to the statement shared by Ruttan, the letter under discussion is “regarding a very small group of employees with unique and complex circumstances where salaries have been frozen by specific provincial legislation that does not apply to other employee groups,” wrote Ruttan.
“While some individuals within this group have seen salary changes through promotion, there are others whose compensation has been locked in place. This has created inequities within this group and gradual salary compression with other groups of employees who have received modest increases over the past decade, including the 1% as part of recent provincial agreements.”
The 1% increase in salary was not provided to the group under consideration of the letter under discussion. This has caused school boards across the province, including local school boards, to write letters to the Minister of Education in hopes of increasing salaries for executive staff.
Ruttan also shared that trustees are concerned about salaries across the education sector. They have done and will keep going with the advocacy efforts for everyone in the education sector; however, “all salaries are determined through provincial negotiations with specific labour groups, not negotiations at the local school board level. Likewise, local school boards have no authority to increase salaries for any group of employees.”
CUPE 1480 explains that they are not against anyone being fairly compensated, but they are disappointed to be singled out this time.
“A decision to advocate for wage raises for the entire education sector would have been more appropriate,” Provost said.
“When one group is struggling to make ends meet at a salary that has been stagnant for more than a decade, it’s a slap in the face to see our own elected trustees advocating for more money for a small group of individuals who are already compensated quite well in comparison to the larger groups,” Provost added.
According to the Ontario Municipal and School Board Elections, the role of the trustee is to maintain a focus on student achievement, well-being and equity and to participate in making decisions that benefit the Board’s entire jurisdiction while representing the interests of their constituents.