TORONTO, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Today 55,000 education workers who are members of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) filed for conciliation.
The following is a statement from Laura Walton, an educational assistant and the president of CUPE’s OSBCU:
“Since June 3 when we served notice to bargain our next collective agreement with the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the Ontario government, my 55,000 coworkers and I have been fighting for decent wages, increased services for students, and a reinvestment in public education after a decade of government cuts that continue to cause instability today.
“All summer, the only thing education minister Stephen Lecce has proposed is a disrespectful offer that would cement the Ford government’s real per-student funding cuts which have put significant and completely avoidable strain on children, families, and workers.
“Given the high inflation that everyone’s experiencing, education workers who are paid on average only $39,000 per year cannot afford to accept another pay cut.
“It’s still within the Stephen Lecce and Doug Ford’s power to direct their people at the table to accept our reasonable, necessary, and affordable Proposals for Student Success and Good Jobs or to at least make a respectful offer.
“But with the education minister wasting his time fearmongering and getting his math wrong, we’re filing for conciliation in the hope that a third party can help refocus the government and school board bosses on getting a fair collective agreement done.
“During the last 85 days, Stephen Lecce and Doug Ford’s negotiators have met with us just eight times.
“In four days, students will have no service guarantees.
“In five days, education workers will have nothing to prevent their wages from being devalued again and school boards will still have problems recruiting and retaining employees due to low pay.
“In the next 60 days, the government and school board bosses have offered only seven days to meet for negotiations with the workers who are the backbone of your children’s schools.
“It’s unfortunate that the Ford government has not yet been serious about having education workers’ backs or getting it done.
“Still, education workers remain ready to talk and ready to bargain a good deal for students, families, Ontario communities, and each other.”