CUPE education workers have begun their strike on the morning of November 4, 2022 as the battle over fair compensation continues between school support workers and the Ford government. Local schools have been shut down and plan to move to remote learning if an agreement isn’t reached by next week.
Protesters wearing signs and carrying flags have been marching up and down Second Street near MP Nolan Quinn’s office since early this morning. Many passing cars are honking in approval of the strike, while protesters occasionally break out into a cheer of, “Ford and Lecce have to go! Hey hey, ho ho!”
Trudy Scott, President of CUPE 4154, said in a comment to Seaway News, “We are here protesting the bill, the legislation the government has just passed taking away all of our rights and impeding against our collective agreement. We’re here fighting for our students because our students deserve better. They deserve more funding, and they deserve more of us in the school as well as we deserve a living wage.”
Negotiations broke down last week when the Ford government announced that to keep kids in school they would pass a law forcing 55,000 workers into a four year contract and take legal action to stop them from striking. They have also used the controversial notwithstanding clause to avoid constitutional challenges.
“Immediately following proclamation of the Keeping Students in Class Act, we filed a submission to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in response to CUPE’s illegal strike action. Proceedings started last night and will continue today,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce, “Nothing matters more right now than getting all students back in the classroom and we will use every tool available to us to do so.”
CUPE is asking for an 11.7% annual raise, overtime at double the rate of regular pay, 30 minutes of paid prep time for EAs and ECEs daily, as well as increased benefits and professional development opportunities. The PC Government offered a wage increase of 2.5% for workers who make under $43,000 and 1.5% for those who earn more.