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CUPE 4400, one of the largest CUPE locals in the country, has won a historic strike and set a major precedent for school board workers across Ontario.

The 14,000-plus members of Local 4400 waged a tough but victorious battle against the Toronto District School Board, and came away with solid job security language, wage increases and no concessions.

Described as one of the largest single employer strikes in Canadian history, Local 4400 members picketed more than 500 schools and board offices across Toronto. Mass picketing in the second week of the strike resulted in the closure of many high schools on a daily basis.

From the beginning of the strike, the Toronto board had been trying to keep schools open. The mass picketing was seen as an important – and ultimately successful – tactic on the part of Local 4400 to spoil the board’s plans.

In a major coup, Local 4400 was able to eliminate the contracting out of custodial work in the old North York board, which had been in place for more than 20 years.

Local 4400 was formed as the result of a union representation vote which CUPE won, following the merger of the six former ‘Metro Toronto’ school boards.

John McCracken