The Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC) is the structure that unites more than 50 000 school board workers under the CUPE banner. After many years of hard work and lobbying, this group of workers is about to seize a major opportunity and take coordinated bargaining one step further.
Known as the Provincial Discussion Table (PDT), this series of tripartite meetings included representatives from all of the Ontario School Boards, CUPE, as well as people from the Ministry of Education acting as facilitators. For CUPE School Board Locals in Ontario, this central table was the perfect place to talk about issues common to all school board workers and set provincial standards in a new framework agreement. After months of discussions, a tentative settlement was reached in May between CUPE and the School Boards Trustee Associations.
On June 9th, more than 300 Ontario CUPE school board workers came together at a special meeting to discuss the proposed settlement. When it came to a vote, every local endorsed the tentative settlement and committed to bring it back to their members during the normal ratification process for local issues bargaining.
As of November 18, 2008, 70 of the 105 locals have reached a tentative settlement that included the terms of the PDT and many other local issues. The remaining are required to settle by November 30th, which will then become a major milestone for all CUPE school board workers.
Solidarity works! Here are some highlights of the settlement:
Status quo benefit levels will be maintained until 2012.
The Ministry has allotted $50 million to help boards with existing costs. $33 million will be made available to fund new benefit options and working conditions in the second year of the collective agreement
A joint benefits committee will be set up at the provincial level, funded by the Ministry, to explore ways to sustain benefit levels in the face of rising costs.
Across the board increases of 3% every year for the next four years
The increases will be applied to all allowances considered to be pensionable earnings.
On hours of work for education assistants (EAs)
Vast majority of EA hours will be increased to seven hours per day by the fourth year of the contract.
The settlement now provides for minimum number of working days per year. By the year 2011-2012, all EAs will be at 194 working days a year.
On staffing issues
The settlement provides funding to protect against job loss due to declining enrolment for custodial, secretarial and para-professional occupations, and to promote the return of work previously contracted out.
Congratulations to Ontario School Board members and staff for their strength and solidarity, and for moving forward CUPE’s strategic directions bargaining goals.