• James Parry and Carmen Marie Fabio

LBPSB teachers’ protest hits Hudson-based book sale for charitable causes


PHOTO BY MONIQUE BISSONNETTE

The bi-annual book sale at Wyman church in Hudson may have a few less helping hands this month due to ongoing pressure tacticts by the LBPSP teachers' union.

Ongoing pressure tactics by protesting Lester B. Pearson School Board teachers have received a C minus from organizers of a Hudson-based annual fundraising book sale for over 20 charities and worthwhile causes slated to be held at Wyman United Memorial Church at the end of this month.

This following the official announcement that students from local schools, who have always helped in the past, will not be awarded any academic credits for their volunteer work in the community as in previous years.

“Under the work to rule edict, the staff will not organize anything,” said John Donnelly, Spokesman of the Pearson Teachers Union. “That would be an extracurricular activity that they’re doing outside the school hours and that is what we are trying to point out to parents, all the work that teachers do outside of the regular school hours for which they don’t get remunerated.”

Said Loney Montemagno, Chair of the Wyman Outreach Committee which has organized and hosted the sale for over 30 years, in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal, “I think it is absolutely atrocious on the part of the teachers. It’s like a threat to the kids. Okay, so they can volunteer. But not receive any credits. It is totally unacceptable and I know a lot of the students are very upset.”

Donnelly said all extracurricular activities (ECAs) have been banned by teachers’ vote, including those with which students earn course credit. “Anything where the teachers would be working outside their 32 hours."

Montemagno said the sole purpose of the sale is to raise money for local causes, as well as on the national and international scene and is only made possible by volunteers, including students from Hudson’s Westwood Senior High who are now being penalized.

“It’s not a great teaching symbol at all,” she said. “Our bi-annual sale in the church basement is part of what a small community such as ours does to help those in need elsewhere. It’s also a great social event and our local students should be encouraged to participate and be rewarded regardless of whether their teachers are happy with their work conditions or not.”

When asked how long the Pearson Teachers Union would be willing to continue pressure tactics, Donnelly responded, “as long as it takes to get this contract negotiated.” Teachers’ demands include a 13.5 per cent raise over the next three years, 4.5 per cent per year, as well as a cap on class size. The provincial government wants teachers’ salaries frozen over the next two years.

“We presented our list to the government last year and they presented theirs,” said Donnelly.

“They haven’t moved but we’re looking at making some adjustments to our demands. It’s our indication to the government and to the public that we’re willing to negotiate on our demands. Now we’ll see if the government is willing to do the same. They have not, to this point.”

Donnelly said nothing prevents the kids from continuing to volunteer for this event and when the collective agreement negotiations are complete and a new contract is signed, teachers will likely resume involvement in events of this nature.

Montemagno and her team are currently looking for volunteers – supervised by church members, some teachers, and Scout leaders - to at least help move and unload boxes and set up the books on tables by category on Friday, October 30, prior to the opening at 6 p.m. through 9 p.m. The following day, Saturday, the sale will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer, call Montemagno at (514) 453- 9712 or the church at (450) 458-4912.

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