TORONTO, Ontario – It was announced on Sunday night, Oct. 6 that after weeks of negotiations, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing educational support workers and the Council of Trustees Associations (CTA) and the government of Ontario.
CUPE was representing 55,000 employees including Educational Assistants, janitors, library workers and more. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Sunday night that a tentative deal had been reached. The negotiating parties had a deadline of midnight to reach an agreement, if an agreement was not reached, CUPE said that they would begin strike action on Monday.
The contract for CUPE workers expired on Aug. 31, after difficulties with the negotiations, CUPE began a work-to-rule action in late September.
Local school boards had warned that their schools would be closed if a strike action took place.
“Parents can rest easy knowing that their government worked tirelessly to ensure their children remain in the classroom, where they belong,” said Lecce.
No word yet on what the deal contained, but main concerns from CUPE’s side were over security of services, namely they had concerns that cuts from the Ford Government would lead to a disruption of school services and a loss of jobs.
“We have secured a settlement that invests in high-quality services for students in Ontario’s schools, now and for the future,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which bargains centrally on behalf of the union’s education workers. “At the same time, it ensures that our members have secure jobs, decent benefits, and paid leave when they’re sick or injured. It’s what our education workers deserve.”
CUPE claims that the settlement reverses many of the Ford Government’s education cuts that they enacted earlier in the year, but CUPE did not specify which cuts had been reversed in the deal. The agreement ensures that schools will indeed be open tomorrow and that the work-to-rule action has come to an end.
“We are grateful to CUPE education workers and leaders, as well as to parents, families, and allies, for their tremendous support throughout the central bargaining process. Your loud support of public education, and of our work in particular, enabled us to reach a deal without a strike,” said Walton.