Across the province of Ontario, 55,000 education workers are casting ballots to give their bargaining committee a strike mandate. The votes will continue until October 2.
Ontario school board workers served notice to bargain on June 3, the day after the provincial election and the first day they could legally give notice, because frontline workers wanted service guarantees in place for this year. However, the Ford government delayed and wasted 90 days from the beginning of June until the end of August, and has failed to either provide guarantees for the services students need, or provide a living wage that can help retrain and recruit qualified education workers.
“With education workers having already involuntarily taken an 11 per cent wage cut from 2012 to 2021, and high inflation at 7 per cent now eroding the value of our pay even more, the Ford government offered the lowest-paid education workers an insulting 33 cents to 53 cents per hour – the equivalent of the cost of less than one tank of gas per month,” said Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) president Laura Walton.
“Over and over, the Ford government has said no to the needs of students, parents and workers. This vote is our way to say yes when the Ford government keeps saying no.”
Ontario education workers are asking for:
- A raise of $3.25 an hour per year of the collective agreement, enough to make it a bit more likely that education workers, who make an average of $39,000 per year, can support themselves with just one job, instead of two or three.
- A restoration of much needed services for students after years of cuts, including enough educational assistants and early childhood educators so every student gets the type of learning environment they need.
- Protection against future service cuts by guaranteeing minimum staffing levels at each school board.
Education workers will return to the bargaining table on October 6, to continue bargaining for fair wages, protection of minimum staffing levels to ensure students’ needs are met, and for an investment in additional staffing to improve the quality of education.
“Education workers have a good proposal package to settle on the table that’s reasonable, necessary, and affordable. Stephen Lecce and Doug Ford have the power and resources to accept our proposals. They could and should do that today,” added Walton.