TORONTO, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– On Tuesday, the central bargaining committee elected by Ontario’s 55,000 frontline education workers presented a full package of bargaining proposals to the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and provincial government negotiators in an effort to push the Ford government to get a fair deal done before September.
These workers’ Proposals for Student Success and Good Jobs, if accepted, would:
“Without our hard work and dedication, Ontario schools wouldn’t function,” said educational assistant Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU). “My co-workers and I worked throughout this pandemic, often as the only employees in schools. We kept schools clean and safe, and provided services to students who could not learn remotely.”
“Real provincial government cuts to funding for education and school boards’ discretionary decisions to cut staff have put many education workers on the brink of poverty while risking students’ success,” observed Walton. “Students and workers both deserve better than the crumbs this government throws our way, so my coworkers and I are willing to fight for what students need in the classroom and what we need to do our jobs even better.”
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) calculated that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government cut education funding by $800 per student (adjusted for inflation) over its first term. With two million students in Ontario’s schools, that’s a $1.6 billion cut in funding this year alone – money that should have been used to improve supports for students, increase staffing levels to guarantee services, and raise the wages of education workers.
Education workers served notice to bargain with the Crown and CTA on June 3, the day after the provincial election and the first day they could legally do so. Since the Ford government was re-elected, there were 90 days until the central collective agreement with education workers will expire on August 31. So far, government negotiators have only made themselves available twice: once on June 17, and again 31 days later on July 18.
“Summer is the time to avert classroom upheaval in September,” said Walton. “It’s within premier Doug Ford’s power to avoid more disruption for students this fall. He should direct his negotiators to get a deal done with workers now that pays us well enough so we don’t have to work second jobs and protects kids’ education from harmful service cuts.”
The Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) unites 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in the public, Catholic, English, and French school systems throughout Canada’s largest province. OSBCU members are educational assistants, school library workers, administrative assistants, secretaries, custodians and tradespeople, early childhood educators, child and youth workers, instructors, nutrition service workers, audio-visual technologists, information technology professionals, school safety monitors, cafeteria workers, social workers, and more.
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