The following statement was made today by Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario:

CUPE Ontario sends their support and solidarity to the members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) who were locked out by the Niagara Catholic District School Board on Monday, March 20.

CUPE Ontario is the province’s largest union, representing 260,000 members, including 55,000 education workers in schools across Ontario.

“We stand in solidarity with the elementary teachers of the Niagara Catholic District School Board who have been locked out by the Board,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “CUPE members who work in schools across the province, including in the Niagara Region, will do all we can do to support our fellow education workers and their union, the Ontario Catholic Teachers’ Association.”

Media reports indicate parents of elementary students at the Niagara Catholic District School Board received less than two-hours’ notice on Monday morning of the Board’s plan to lock out their children’s teachers yet keep schools open.

“CUPE Ontario education workers are outraged by the Board’s decision to lock out its elementary teachers,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE Ontario’s School Board Coordinating Committee. “No matter which education workers we’re talking about, it’s the same for us all. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions. We are monitoring the situation closely to ensure the safety of students and CUPE members working for the Niagara Catholic Board.”

“What is the provincial government doing with this school board that is locking out workers instead of negotiating a fair, local collective agreement?” asked Hahn. “Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen school boards lock out workers or force others to strike to defend hard-won working conditions. For a government that is supposed to want “labour peace” in the school system, it is beyond belief that the Liberals would allow a school board to actually lock out their workers.”

“The provincial government and school boards cannot expect education workers to sit idly by while they are treated without the respect and consideration they deserve for the significant contributions they make to the education system,” said Preston. “We will stand in solidarity with OECTA members working for the Niagara Catholic Board in the fight for fairness and we will continue to demand respect for our democratic rights from the provincial government.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.