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Humber recognizes impact of school support worker strike

Support staff set to hit the picket lines Monday.

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Humber College North Campus Commuter Hub on Oct. 5, 2019. Eli Ridder/TAP

Should the 50,000 school support workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees enter a strike on Monday, Humber College has recognized that there could be some impact on students that have elementary and high school-aged children.

“While Humber classes and operations are scheduled as planned, we understand that students and employees with school-aged children may need to adjust their regular routines,” an email sent out Friday said. The union, known as CUPE, gave notice last week that workers would strike if there was no agreement.

The support staff that CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions bargaining team represents in negotiations with the province are made up of caretakers, educational assistants, early childhood educators and school office staff. Those education workers walking off the job will cause hundreds of schools to close across the province.

The previous contract agreed between the provincial government and CUPE expired on Aug. 31 and officials were at the bargaining table until last weekend when talks broke off between Queen’s Park, school boards and the unionized workers.

Should these workers hit the picket lines on Monday morning, a possibility that is highly likely at this point, parents will be forced to find childcare — sometimes a costly venture — or take their children to work with them, whether they are in kindergarten or high school.

Humber noted in an email to all students that the first days of the strike “will be challenging as people make alternative child care arrangements” and encouraged those students that will be impacted to communicate with their professors to ensure their academic health.

“As is the case with missing any class, students need to contact their professor and are responsible for speaking with them if they need to request alternative arrangements for completing coursework,” the unsigned email from Humber added.

For students who are at a placement at an impacted primary or secondary school, Humber directs them to speak with their placement advisor or program coordinator, saying that “programs have been working on contingency plans to ensure that your placements are not at risk due to the work stoppage.”

It is not the first time that Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber has had to deal with the impacts of a strike. A province-wide college faculty strike by OPSEU lasted a historic five weeks and pushed back the semester for college students. Some students protested and others quit as academic life came to a halt for much of October and November of 2017.

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The Avro Post was established as an independent student publication at Humber College’s North Campus in October 2017. Its mission is to report daily news, important updates and in-depth reporting that matters to students on campus.

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