CUPE education workers union gives strike notice

The CUPE education workers union, which opposes Premier Doug Ford’s government, has announced that its members may go on strike for the second time in three weeks.

Its first strike was against Bill 28, the law since repealed by the government that required CUPE education workers to enter into a contract and made it illegal to terminate employment.

The two-day strike forced hundreds of Ontario schools to close.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park that the government had increased its offer by “hundreds of millions of dollars across the sector, particularly for low-income workers”.

When asked if the government would legislate for workers to strike, he did not rule it out outright, but said the government would stay at the table to get a deal.

“It’s our obligation. It’s our goal. We want a negotiated settlement with the union,” he said.

Education workers represented by CUPE, some 55,000 janitors, teacher aides, early childhood educators, secretaries and other support staff, returned to work Nov. 8 after Ford assured them that would repeal Bill 28. MPs from all parties voted Monday to pass legislation to strike down the law that struck down the Charter using the notwithstanding clause to force a contract on the union.

Talks between CUPE and the government resumed the very days union members returned to work, but have since proven fruitless.

READ MORE: Ford gov’t keeps end of the bargain, repeals anti-strike bill

The Ontario government is in the process of renegotiating with each of Ontario’s major education unions, including CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions. The unions’ contracts with the government expired at the end of August.

More soon…

Helen D. Jessen