Letter: Looking out for best interests

CUPE president Leslie Franklin responds to a letter by school trustee Elenor Palis

Editor, The News:

Re: Poppycock on election timing (Letters, July 25).

Why so defensive, Eleanor Palis?

I don’t believe your name was ever mentioned in George Serra’s letter, yet here we are with almost a full page letter that’s all about you.

Only a politician would jump at the opportunity to get themselves some free media coverage. Nothing to do with election timing, you say? I call “poppycock” on that one.

I think we can all agree that letter writing to a government that doesn’t support public education and that chooses not to listen is futile.  However, writing letters and submitting to the local paper, after you have slashed and burned numerous support staff jobs along with across-the-board cuts to their hours of work, seems just a tad hypocritical and can only be viewed as a jumpstart to an election campaign.

Ms. Palis seems to pride herself on her “neutrality.” Does that mean she doesn’t hold any opinion on anything?  How do you make decisions by being totally neutral and never taking sides? Can’t imagine much gets accomplished with that kind of position.

She also prides herself on being “fair.”   Does she think targeting the jobs, hours of work and weeks of work of her lowest paid frontline workers, in order to balance a budget, fair?

Does she think the elimination of all those jobs won’t directly affect students and their classrooms?

She also prides this board on having no particular slant, one way or the other, yet did members of this board not publicly support candidates of the political party that is deliberately underfunding public education in this province? How is that not taking sides?

It would appear this board has a definite slant to the right which must make it very difficult to pressure a political party it supports into making changes to its public education agenda.  But, hey, I could be wrong.

Ms. Palis claims that she “runs into” support staff often and they lavish her with praise on a job well done. Really? These employees are thanking you for the loss of their jobs and the reduction of their hours of work?

Ms. Palis may have run into these employees, but I highly doubt she ever took the time or the trouble to speak to them.  If she had and actually understood the work these people do we may not have seem the extreme cuts to school secretaries, reduction in education assistant hours and the loss of one week of employment for all school term employees.

These cuts directly affect our students whether she wants to realize it or not.

But that’s not enough, because next budget year, this board is going to target custodial services.  So stay tuned for a new cleaning standard for our schools of “moderately dingy” because the health and safety of our students and staff isn’t really that important to this board. Seems what really matters is protecting those jobs that do not have any direct impact on students.

Not only is this board ineffective, but it seems to have a lack of understanding as to the role of a trustee, so here’s a definition.

Trustee:  Person or persons who are given control or power of administration over property and/or assets for the benefit of third party beneficiaries.

Trustees are trusted to make decisions in the beneficiaries’ best interests.

Employees are also beneficiaries, along with all the taxpayers who contribute to the public school system. Not only must trustees ensure that students have access to education in a safe and healthy environment, they must also ensure that employees are treated fairly, have a safe and healthy work environment and also have access to education, and they must ensure that all public assets – our school buildings – are properly cleaned and maintained. None of this is achieved by continuously eliminating the jobs of those who do that work.

Ms. Palis, you need to get off your high horse, give your head a shake, broaden your interests and start showing some respect to your partner groups, because without everyone’s cooperation, nothing will be accomplished.

As for your comment of “careful what you wish for” maybe you should have let your “leader” respond to Mr. Serra’s letter because your personal attack may very well come back to bite you.

Leslie Franklin, president

CUPE Local 703

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