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MISSISSAUGA, ON – Leadership representing 55,000 CUPE members working for school boards across Ontario today approved a tentative agreement with the provincial government negotiated last week, and recommended ratification by members.

The bargaining process has not been easy,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “With the looming threat of contracts being imposed by the province, bargaining in this climate of unnecessary chaos only hinders the process. But our bargaining committee and our school board sector’s leadership believe this agreement deals with issues of importance to CUPE members and supports services in schools in a better way.”

Hahn expressed his thanks to the elected members of the bargaining committee and to staff, adding the task of bargaining in the shadow of Bill 115, the government’s attack on democratic collective bargaining rights, was almost impossible.

Bill 115 created a crisis and continues to do so, and it is disingenuous to use it to impose or threaten to impose contracts, then try to make amends by repealing it after the damage has been done.” He added, “We are going to campaign until we receive assurance from all provincial leaders that they will not attack our basic bargaining and arbitration rights in the future.”

Terri Preston, chair of the CUPE Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee, said the deal was based on a framework agreement which CUPE had developed in negotiations with individual school boards in the days leading up to the Holiday break. “It addresses a number of issues of importance to CUPE members, including protecting services through better job security, better sick leave support, and protection of pension contributions.”

These provisions benefit students by helping create stability in the services that keep the schools clean and safe, and ensuring students who need extra support to succeed will continue to receive that support.”

Noting the short time available for ratification of 114 collective agreements covered, Hahn said, “We just went through an important first step in our democratic process; the next step is the most important step in that process - our members’ democratic right to vote on the contracts that will govern their work.”

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316

Marjorie Savoie, CUPE Communications, 613-864-9924