Leveraging Workers Knowledge

Through joint environmental committees newly established for this purpose, union members and management representatives will collaborate in order to understand how to reduce workplace ghgs. Collaboration will result in identification of feasible approaches, including innovations, for workplace changes that would reduce GHGs. The concept is designed to build organizational momentum in a framework of continuous improvement.

With over 500 buildings, the Toronto District School Board is the largest school board in Canada. These buildings range in age from over 100 years-old to very new builds. The potential for reducing GHGs in these buildings is huge and will be accomplished through a variety of means including LED lighting replacement, changing building administration systems (BAS) and updating or replacing boilers. The committee is looking at a number of options.

The President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council John Cartwright approached the 4 unions representing workers at the TDSB and the Director of Education, John Malloy. All agreed to forming a cooperative Joint Management Labour Environment Committee co-chaired by labour and management. Richard Christie, the Senior Manager of Sustainability, School Operations represents management and Chris Chandler, Executive Officer, Toronto Teachers, OSSTF, District 12 is the labour lead on the committee. The other unions participating in the committee are the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT),), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 4400) and the school boards’ Maintenance & Construction Skilled Trades Council.

Two sub committees have been formed. The Curriculum and Program sub-committee will focus on “inside the classroom” issues that primarily affect students. The second sub-committee is to look at energy and buildings.

The project was originally funded by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through the Partners in Climate Action program that was cancelled in July 2018. The project has renewed with funding from The Atmospheric Fund.
This project borrows from a process currently in place in Canada’s “big three” auto plants, which use a joint process for addressing broad environmental issues. Unifor, the union representing auto workers, first negotiated Workplace Environmental Representatives (WERs) since 1996.

For more information please contact Karen Lior