CUPE Ontario strongly opposes an amendment to the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act (SBCBA) tabled yesterday by the Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter, that will make central bargaining with the provincial government mandatory for all education workers.

If passed, the new legislation would take away the rights of school board support workers to democratically determine their participation in central bargaining with the provincial government. Currently, education workers represented by CUPE and other support staff unions may request to participate in central bargaining but are not mandated into the process.

“We have repeatedly shared with the government that, in our view, this is not the part of the Act that needs an overhaul. Legislating all education workers into a central bargaining process with the provincial government, is wrong. And, as previous successful rounds of bargaining have proved, completely unnecessary. In our view, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” said Terri Preston, Chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC).

Respect for workers’ rights to determine their participation in the process, as currently provided by the Act, has been fundamental to CUPE’s support for and participation in central bargaining with the provincial government.

“Mandatory central bargaining is anti-democratic,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “We’re not going to sit idly by while this government attempts to undermine our democratic right to free collective bargaining.  We’ve fought this before, and we’ll fight this again.”

CUPE has continuously made its concerns with this change known to the Ministry, through consultations and correspondence, and calls on the Minister to delete this change from the draft legislation before it proceeds any further through the legislative process.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.