TORONTO – In votes held province-wide, education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have ratified a central agreement reached with the province of Ontario and the Council of Trustee Associations (CTA) on November 2nd. The agreement was ratified by a majority of members and a majority of CUPE’s 110 bargaining units in the sector.
“We’re pleased that our members have ratified a central collective agreement,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE’s central bargaining committee. “But we heard them loud and clear that they were frustrated with the wage increases, and that after bearing wage freezes for the last three years, they don’t intend to continue falling behind in every round of negotiations.” Workers represented by CUPE are among the lowest paid in the education sector, and their wages have not been keeping pace with cost of living increases in recent years.
Preston also commented on challenges with the new tandem system of bargaining, whereby central and local talks happen concurrently on different issues: “We expect to participate in talks with the government about what worked under the new legislation and what didn’t – it’s pretty clear there are kinks to work out. And we still have many locals struggling to get bargaining dates with local boards who seem to feel no urgency in concluding talks. The dynamic is frustrating, when we are just a year and a half out from the next round of talks starting.”
CUPE represents 55,000 workers in the education sector, across all four school board systems (English and French, Catholic and public), including educational assistants, early childhood educators, custodians, tradespeople, school administrators, payroll and IT clerks, library technicians and more.
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