Education workers and the communities that rely on the delivery of their services will not take the Ford Conservatives’ bully tactics, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
“Lecce wants to convince kids and parents and education workers that he has, in his words, no other choice but to introduce this legislation but that’s simply not true,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “He has a choice to offer an adequate salary increase that compensates for over a decade of wage cuts. He has a choice to invest in education to ensure adequate staffing levels from the classrooms to the libraries. And he has a choice to continue negotiations without having the threat of ramming through a contract full of concessions and wage cuts over the heads of frontline workers.”
The “final offer” of the government to education workers consists of a wage increase of 2.5% for employees earning less than $25.95/hr, and 1.5% for those earning more; inadequate protections against job cuts; no paid prep time for education workers who work directly with students; a cut to the sick leave/short-term disability plan; and more.
“Lecce calls this offer a generous one,” said Hahn. “A half percent wage increase to an already-insulting offer isn’t generous. An additional 200 bucks in the pockets of workers earning 39K isn’t generous. It wouldn’t even be generous to accept our proposal – it would be necessary, reasonable, and affordable. It’s simply what’s needed in our schools.”
“We have three more days of bargaining left despite the tabling of this legislation and imposing this totally inadequate contract,” said Hahn. “Lecce and Ford might think they can just rely on this bully tactic of a legislation. But we’ve been in mass meetings the last week with education workers – frontline workers who’ve resoundingly expressed their commitment to ensuring good wages, work conditions, and educational environments. On Friday, regardless of what this government does, we will be engaging in province-wide political protest where no CUPE education worker will be on the job until we get a real deal. Our members will not have their rights legislated away. Now’s the time to stand up for ourselves and public education and that’s just what we’re going to do.”