Ontario’s lowest-paid education workers have voted to ratify their next collective agreement with the Council of the Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the provincial government.

A total of 41,559 out of 55,000 frontline CUPE education workers cast ballots, and 30,330 –73% – voted “yes” to accept the tentative agreement that was reached by their central bargaining committee on November 20.

The online ratification vote began Thursday, November 24, and ended Sunday, December 4, with 76% of frontline education workers participating.

“My coworkers and I stood up to the Ford government to get a forced contract off our backs as part of the repeal of the anti-worker Bill 28,” said Laura Walton, educational assistant and president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU).

“This collective agreement is our first in 10 years to be freely bargained instead of forced on us with legislative interference,” observed Walton. “It’s the product of democracy in action – workers having the freedom to negotiate and to withdraw our labour if necessary.”

“For the last week and a half, 55,000 frontline education workers considered whether the tentative agreement their bargaining committee negotiated is acceptable, and the majority said ‘yes,’” Walton explained. “Because we stood up for fairness and freedom, refusing to be bullied anymore, we ended up with an agreement that’s free of concessions and we more than doubled the wage increase the Ford government tried to impose on us.”

“To the parents who joined us in demanding improved services for Ontario’s students: Together we have exposed this government’s appalling track record of underfunding public education,” Walton concluded. “My coworkers and I will never stop advocating for your children. Change isn’t only won at the bargaining table and we are going to keep mobilizing with you for better funding.”