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School board support staff across Ontario have voted to ratify a two-year provincial agreement that will protect services and students while ensuring stability in schools.

The agreement addresses a number of issues of importance to CUPE members, including protecting services through better job security, improved sick leave support, and protection of pension contributions.

Our members understood what our bargaining committee faced at the provincial bargaining table in the shadow of Bill 115, says Terri Preston, chair of the Ontario School Boards Coordinating Committee (OSBCC), the voice of education workers within CUPE.

The ratification votes followed on the heels of months of turmoil in Ontario’s education system caused by the provincial government’s imposition of Bill 115, which stripped school board employees of their basic rights to bargain collectively without interference. To ensure stability at Ontario schools, CUPE leadership negotiated a memorandum of understanding directly with the province prior to a government-imposed deadline of December 31.

More than 100 ratification votes took place across the province over a week-long period. Workers ratified the new agreement in every vote.

Preston thanked the provincial bargaining committee for their hard work, especially during the final week of negotiations which took place over the holiday season.

She concluded by adding “The fight is not over. This round of bargaining for our members is concluded, but our concerns around Bill 115’s infringement on our democratic rights remain. Bill 115 created a crisis in our schools and we will continue to campaign until all provincial leaders commit that they will not attack our basic collective bargaining rights in the future.”

CUPE represents more than 55,000 school board staff who provide a wide range of support and instructional roles across Ontario’s English, French, Catholic and Public systems.