TORONTO– The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced today that its Ontario members in the school board sector voted 88 per cent in favour of strike action to back up their demand for negotiated settlements as opposed to contracts imposed by the provincial government under new legislation.
“The government’s legislation, Bill 115, threatens to impose contracts on the 55,000 CUPE school board support workers who are the backbone of Ontario’s publicly funded schools,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC). “Our members are sending a clear message to the Premier, and to the Minister of Education: We are ready to bargain, but we want to negotiate agreements that will actually work for both workers and employers, not have provisions imposed.”
Although several school boards have completed agreements, those negotiations have not included CUPE, and do not address the working reality of the support staff that CUPE represents. Preston noted members are now planning the next stage of their campaign, which will take their message public.
Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario said, “Bill 115 has created an unnecessary crisis in our schools. The government must allow workers and employers to continue to do what they have done for decades – negotiate workable solutions through collective bargaining. All CUPE members are standing with workers in the school boards as they fight to protect their democratic bargaining rights. Support staff are the backbone of our schools; custodians, school secretaries, education assistants, early childhood educators, instructors, child and youth workers, information technology, and all other support staff, deserve fairness and respect.”
CUPE has mounted a province-wide campaign to defend public service workers across Ontario facing threats from Bill 115 and other proposed provincial legislation that attacks their democratic rights to collective bargaining, and impartial third-party arbitration. For school board workers, Bill 115 has already taken away those rights. CUPE is fighting to repeal Bill 115 and has launched a legal case against it.
For more information, contact:
Terri Preston, Bargaining Chair, Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee, 416-885-5585
Fred Hahn, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-540-3979
Brian Blakeley, Sector Coordinator, CUPE, 416-580-1300