Begins: 2 September 2022 @ 9:30 AM Location: Toronto, ON (virtual)
TORONTO, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) will hold a media briefing to discuss the expiration of frontline education workers’ collective agreements, the Ford government’s underfunding of Ontario schools, and the return of all students to classes next week.
Laura Walton, educational assistant and president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU)
Ontario education workers to hold back-to-school media briefing
As most students prepare to go back to school next week and with pressure on parents to spend even more out of their own pockets on everything from school supplies to the skyrocketing costs of food and rent, Ontario’s 55,000 frontline education workers are using bargaining for their next collective agreement to secure more resources for students, families, and each other.
The proposals for Student Success and Good Jobs that education workers have put forward are reasonable, necessary, and affordable.
Education workers’ Proposals for Student Success and Good Jobs, if accepted, would:
Guarantee increased services for students;
Protect service levels against cuts;
Help solve school boards’ problems retaining and recruiting workers; and
Increase government funding for children’s education after 10 years of real cuts.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) calculates that the Ford 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 translates into a $1.6 billion cut in funding in the 2021-2022 school year alone – money that should have been used to improve supports for students, increase staffing levels, and raise the wages of education workers.
Education workers are fighting for: increased direct support from educational assistants and designated early childhood educators to better meet the needs of students; enough library workers to make sure school libraries are open and reading opportunities are available to kids all the time; enough secretaries in school offices and enough lunchroom supervisors to keep students safe; and more custodians, maintenance workers, and tradespeople to keep schools clean and begin to tackle the $16.3 billion repair backlog.
Education workers deserve a raise. The past decade has seen education workers’ wages fall substantially below inflation. In no small part this is because of legislated interference with free collective bargaining that used the power of the state to limit wage improvements for the lowest paid employees in the education sector. Bill 124 under the current Progressive Conservative government imposed a strict limit of 1% increases per year for three years, even though all evidence pointed to the fact that this would be lower than inflation and was lower than the trends for other unionized sectors of the economy.
The result of attacks on education workers’ wages and collective bargaining rights has been wage settlements from 2012-2021 that equal 8.8% (compounded) while inflation to the end of 2021 totaled 19.5% – meaning education workers have already taken a 10.7% pay cut. With inflation well over 7% in 2022, education workers are fighting to prevent another 17% wage cut.
Workers’ reasonable, necessary, and affordable wage proposal is an increase of $3.25 per hour for a group that’s paid on average only $39,000 per year. The Ford government’s disrespectful and out of touch offer was just 33¢ to 53¢ an hour – the equivalent of the cost of less than one tank of gas per month.