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CANADA: Unionized workers for the Toronto School Board are paid for loafing on the job

22 Jun

Source: Toronto Star

More Union corruption, nothing new in Canada really. Public sector unions have been scamming us for quite some time. Here are some instances of what the Toronto Star has uncovered down at the Toronto District School Board in Ontario;

  • Installing a $17 pencil sharpener: $143 to put in four screws

  • The installation of a sign on a school’s front lawn: $19,000

  • An electrical outlet on the wall in a school library: $3,000

    • Required 4 hours and 2 employees. Taxpayers charged for 76 hours of work.

  • A “breakfast club” kitchen: $250,000

  • Installation of a sign at another school: $40,000 to purchase and install a school sign in 2008

    • The Principal, who came to the school in 2009, raised a complaint about the cost of installation, which was half the bill, and would have represented 500 hours of labour or two electricians working for 14 days.

  • Construction and maintenance workers who were supposed to be working at Toronto public schools have been discovered spending long mornings at Tim Horton’s, drinking in bars and even kissing in cars.

    • The workers submitted time sheets and were paid their wages as if they put in a full day’s work, according to school board sources.

Construction and maintenance workers who were supposed to be working at Toronto public schools have been discovered spending long mornings at Tim Horton’s, drinking in bars and even kissing in cars.

The workers submitted time sheets and were paid their wages as if they put in a full day’s work, according to school board sources. It is unknown if the TDSB is trying to recoup the wages.

Popular TDSB principal backed by his association

This behaviour, discovered by board officials, has so far cost eight members of the powerful school skilled trades council their jobs in the past six months, the Toronto District School Board has confirmed. TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the school board has warned some workers about their conduct and has “dismissed for cause” eight workers.

Star investigation: Toronto schools waste big money on small jobs

In another case still under investigation, a member of one of the school board’s construction divisions was spotted on school board time delivering pamphlets to houses offering to perform odd jobs for pay.

The information came to light as part of an ongoing Toronto Star investigation into unusually high charges for jobs done at Toronto District School Board schools by the 900-strong Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council that has an exclusive contract with the board.

In the first part of the Star’s investigation, we reported on high costs billed to taxpayers for small projects — $143 to install a pencil sharpener and almost $3,000 to install a simple electrical outlet on a school library wall. In the case of the outlet, only four hours work was done, but 76 hours was recorded on the time sheet.

TDSB and trade union sources have now explained to the Star that school work orders are sometimes “padded” with additional hours to account for the whereabouts of workers who either had no assignments or took off during work hours. Critics say they do not understand why a tradesperson would have no assignments, given that the school board estimates it needs $3 billion of repairs and upgrades to bring the almost 600 schools up to a proper standard.

On Thursday, hundreds of teachers, parents, school officials and even unionized workers who are part of the council contacted the Star to complain about waste of taxpayers’ money by the TDSB. Top TDSB officials, including director Chris Spence, school superintendents and deputy operations director Penny Mustin, have refused to be interviewed about the matter.

The school board has also not released a copy of its internal tracking database that contains details of the annual 1.8 million hours of work the board’s electricians, carpenters, plumbers and other trades claim they perform.

At Queen’s Park, the source of education funding, minister Laurel Broten came under attack. Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman called on Broten to get to the bottom of the problem at the TDSB and find out if it’s happening in other boards, the Star’s Rob Ferguson reports.

“This is not a joke; this is public money,” the MPP for Thornhill and former talk-radio host said at Queen’s Park. “It happens in a bureaucracy gone wild.”

“This reminds me of once upon a time when NASA was spending, what was it, $250,000 for a toilet and $19,000 for a radio antenna and that kind of thing.”

The workers recently dismissed were members of various trade unions represented by Jimmy Hazel and his Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, a bargaining unit that has, in effect, created a publicly funded construction and repair company inside the public school system. In addition to supplying electricians, plumbers and other trades, they unit operates an in-house window-making facility that Hazel said is cheaper than buying replacement windows for schools.

Union boss Jimmy Hazel told the Star that his “members have a very strong work ethic” and then referred a reporter to the TDSB for all questions related to “employee matters.”

In an earlier interview, Hazel said: “We’re competitive and we are proud of it,” adding that if he ever discovered a problem with one of his workers, “he wouldn’t be working for very f—ing long.”

The TDSB’s chief facilities officer, Angelos Bacopoulos, who oversees construction and maintenance work, said in an interview that the board realizes it has a problem but does not yet know how widespread it is. Bacopoulos would not provide specific details, but board sources say the board is digging into the matter.

In some cases, workers have signed in to work at a school, then announced they had to go get “parts” and were later discovered by TDSB officials drinking in a bar. In another case, a male worker was found in a board vehicle with a female “fooling around,” according to a board source.

In the case of the pamphlets, board sources say a worker was using school board time to distribute flyers advertising his services for odd jobs, apparently using board equipment.

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2 Comments

Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Canada

 

Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “CANADA: Unionized workers for the Toronto School Board are paid for loafing on the job

  1. Arch walker

    June 29, 2012 at 7:06 am

    These are international trade unions. Nothing to do with CUPE

     
  2. carbonbasedanatomy

    June 29, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Correct. CUPE represents 615,000 members across Canada, CUPE represents workers in health care, education, municipalities, libraries, universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines.
    This union; the “Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council”, is a 900-person strong union which has an exclusive contract with the TDSB. I question the ethics of the former, but the Star’s investigation encompasses the latter union.

     

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