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CUPE will end strike as government rescinds controversial law; both head back to bargaining

UPDATE NOV 7: In a news conference an hour later, the CUPE union stated its protest sites “will be collapsed” starting Tuesday and it will come back to the negotiating table.

A statement from Minister of Education Stephen Lecce confirmed that the government will repeal Bill 28 “in its entirety.”

Schools will be open to students and busing will be running, as usual, on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and until further notice.

UPDATE NOV 7: During a press conference Monday morning, Premier Doug Ford said the Ontario government is willing to repeal legislation that bans education supprt workers from striking if the CUPE union agrees to end the walkout that has closed schools across the province.

If the union members go back to work, Ford says the government will go back to the bargaining table.

The legislation uses the notwithstanding clause to guard against constitutional challenges.

A decision on the legality of the legislation, from the Ontario Labour Relations Board, is expected soon.

CUPE is holding a press conference later this morning.

UPDATE NOV. 4: The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board and the Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School board will close schools Monday, and into next week if no agreement is reached over the weekend.  

With schools closed to students, remote learning will be in place for all students.

Before/after school and EarlyON programs hosted at HPEDSB schools, and community use of schools permits are on pause during the job action.

  • If your child attends daycare hosted in one of our schools, please contact the daycare provider directly.
  • High school students who are doing co-op education placements can continue going to their workplaces if it is not at a school or board/administrative office. If it is at one of those sites, the placement is on hold and alternative learning will be provided by the teacher.

“This situation is  fluid and we are collectively dealing with evolving circumstances,” stated Katherine Maclver, Director of Education. “If anything changes over the weekend and it turns out that schools can be open, we will communicate through another email, the local media, the website HPEschools.ca and @HPEschools social media.”

 

NOV. 3: The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board has received confirmation that education support workers will go on strike starting tomorrow – at Conservative MPP offices, not schools.

As a result, all schools will be closed to students Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.

Earlier this week the board provided notice about the possibility of switching to asynchronous remote learning in the event of job action by education support workers of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“Tomorrow, teachers will be planning for student learning needs during the asynchronous remote learning period and will contact families who request alternative learning or support materials,” stated Katherine Maclver, Director of Education.

Before and after school programs hosted at HPEDSB schools and community use of schools permits are on pause during the job action. People whose children attend daycare hosted in a schools, are to contact the daycare provider directly.

High school students who are doing co-op education placements can continue going to their workplace if it is not at a school or school board office. If it is at one of those locations, the placement is on hold and alternative learning will be provided by the teacher.

Should anything change overnight, the school board notes it will communicate prior to 6:30 a.m. Friday through the local media, the website HPEschools.ca and @HPEschools social media.

UPDATE: After talks between the government and union broke off Thursday afternoon, MPPs passed a fast-tracked bill that uses the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to pre-empt a legal strike.  The bill imposes daily fines of $4,000 on any worker who walks out, with a $500,000 penalty for the union.

The union stated it is receiving legal support to challenge fines in court.

The bill invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to protect the legislation from any challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, extinguishing the union’s Charter rights to bargain collectively and strike. Use of the clause has been condemned by labour law and constitutional experts. Civil liberties groups are concerned about the unique bill as it could be applied to other unions.

Premier Doug Ford said the bill is intended to keep students in class after two years of pandemic disruptions. He said the province was “left no other choice” after the union issued notice five days in advance of a legal strike on Sunday.

Late Wednesday, the province rejected a proposal from the union that included a reduced wage hike of roughly 6 per cent, below its previous demand of 11.7 per cent.

The Keeping Students in Class Act would establish a four-year collective agreement which includes a salary increase of 2.5 per cent (increased from an initial offer of two per cent) for employees with the top end of their salary/wage grids below $43,000 annually (increased from $40,000) and 1.5 per cent (increased from 1.25 per cent) for employees with the top end of their salary/wage grids above that amount for each year of the contract;
– An increase in benefits contributions resulting in a $6,120 annual employer contribution per employee by Aug. 31, 2026 and other modifications to sick leave and short-term disability leave provisions.

The 55,000 members of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) includes custodians, maintenance and library workers, secretaries, early childhood educators, educational assistants and IT professionals working in publicly-funded schools across Ontario.

CUPE has listed a picket line finder on its website which shows Todd Smith’s constituency office at 5503 Hwy 62 from 8 a.m. to noon as site.

 

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  1. SS says:

    Doug Ford will be premier for life, unless the NDP and Liberals get their acts together. And pretty much all Conservative policies and decisions are either originated by Ford, or driven by him if he thinks it’s good for him and his base.

    The public has the ability to make change, as long as we don’t get notwithstanding’d into complete submission.

    But does the public have the will to make change? Doesn’t seem so, but maybe a few years from now. We need a multi party system, or at least 2.

  2. Henri Garand says:

    My earlier comment related to education and healthcare SYSTEMS according to the latest data.

    The 2021 edition of CEO World Magazine identifies the top ten countries for best healthcare systems as South Korea, Taiwan, Denmark, Australia, Japan, Australia, France, Spain, Belgium, and United Kingdom. Canada was ranked 23rd.

    I couldn’t find any 2021 survey by CEO World Magazine of best education systems. Its top eight rankings for 2020 are as follows: United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Denmark, Canada.

    Other web sources confirm these rankings, with minor variations, if one searches for SYSTEMS.

    Canada may rank high in terms of specific metrics and overall self-satisfaction, but not systems.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    I certainly enjoy reading the different opinions on this site, but facts are facts.
    It’s false that Canada’s education and healthcare systems are “inferior” to that of the UK and to many European countries. Below I have listed the results of a worldwide survey carried out in 2019 and 2020 by the “CEO World Magazine”…

    MOST EDUCATED – Canada 1 UK 5
    Best Hospitals – Canada 4 UK Did not place in the top 20.
    Best Treatment of the Elderly – Canada 7 UK Did Not Place
    Best Quality of Life – Canada 1 UK 12
    Economic Stability – Canada 2 UK Did Not Place

    ALSO – rarely did any other European country list higher than Canada – however, Scandinavian countries also ranked as high as Canada and at times better.

    In closing, our country is a good place to live and we should appreciate it more.

  4. David Thomas says:

    @Dennis Fox Invoking the NWC is the modern version of back to work legislation, which the Supreme Court of Canada banned in 2015. Using the nuclear option, as is it being referred to (not sure how I’d feel about that if I was Ukrainian), is the result of the union not bargaining in good faith, given its 11.7% wage demand opening salvo. Months of bargaining generated zero progress. But they are merely the appetizer – the main course (the one that will really cost Ontario taxpayers) – is the other union negotiations that follow, with this one setting the precedent.

    Ontario is basically broke. What precious financial resources we have (and yes, it is a zero sum game these days) should go to fixing the healthcare crisis. The evidence is clear – Ontario’s doctors and nurses are at their wit’s end because of the lingering impact from the pandemic. On the other hand, our educational system performed poorly during the pandemic and now students are way behind on basic math and reading skills, as shown from the recent provincial standardized tests. The education unions put up every roadblock they could think of to make the Ford Government look bad and now the kids are mightily behind in their studies. I am so tired of the unions saying they are “doing it for the students.” If that were the case, they would stay in the classroom.

  5. Bob says:

    Hey, Chuck

    If the ORLB made a decision in favour of the GOV, Ford would not have backed down.
    Fact it, the chair never released his decision bc the union and government made a deal.
    Doug overplayed his hand, hard.

  6. Chuck says:

    Let’s be accurate upon what transpired. CUPE held a kings ransom of 11.7% on the head of the Gov’t and would not budge and left the negotiating table threatening strike. That is far from sincere bargaining. Premier Ford is the rational one here in an attempt to keep children in school and being fair to workers and the pay master which is the taxpayer.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Let’s be clear – it was Ford who announced an imposed contract before negotiating a legal contract. CUPE responded with a strike date, which is part of the labour relations process, Ford responded with the Notwithstanding Clause, which has never been part of any contract negotiations ever! Ford alone created the bad feeling and chaos, resulting in the closing of the schools. Place the blame and the responsibility where it belongs – as the polls have shown, most of the public blamed Ford – not CUPE.

    The idea that by rescinding “his” legislation was Ford showing leadership is a ridiculous notion – today, he was saving his government from total national and international embarrassment, plus growing anger by the public. Now the government will have to show just how good their word is – will they negotiate in good faith or will they come back with the same LOW BALL offer. If they do, then expect more labour unrest. While the legislation may have gone away, the issues have not – Ford now has to prove what his priorities are.

  8. Michelle says:

    Premier Ford showed true leadership today. Can the Union reciprocate, is the daunting question,

  9. Gary says:

    Illegal walkouts at the expense of children and taxpayers should never be a celebration. Show some class and return to the table with a reasonable offer. 11.7% was always a non starter.

  10. Paul D Cole says:

    “Premier Ford in goodwill provided the Union an out” That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day. I figure Mr. Ford decided it was best to get out while the gettin was good as it seems public opinion was turning against him and his parties stance.

  11. Mark says:

    It was quite disappointing to see the Unions celebrating their illegal walkout after the Premier sent them an olive branch. Hopefully they (Union) will now bargain in good faith.

  12. Henri Garand says:

    Canada is a curious country where citizens celebrate education and health care systems that are inferior to (and more costly than) those in the United Kingdom and a number of European countries, and where unions are widely appreciated but the union-backed NDP is seldom elected to govern. In the UK the Conservatives, like Canada’s Liberals, have provided the longest serving national governments.

    In Canada, of course, the CBC animates the sport of bashing Conservatives while it fails to investigate who sleeps in $6,000 hotel rooms. No mention of the need to cut government budgets for travel! It’s easier to cherry-pick instances of poor leadership and to demonize whole political parties.

    Canadians also suffer from conflicting views of wealth. According to a recent study, the top 20 percent of Canadian income earners pay 62 percent of the tax that funds the social programs everyone enjoys. Outside the top 20 percent the standards for Canadian poverty and “wealth” are puzzling. There’s compassion for those earning less than $40,000, but seniors with net incomes above $39,000 start to lose their tax-free age credits. This spring or summer PEC council considered a proposal to provide affordable housing assistance to those whose incomes were less than $84,000, but seniors with net incomes above $80,000 are subject to OAS claw back.

    Perhaps the country could do with less political rhetoric and social angst and more serious analysis and consistency.

  13. cupe union president and several of their other leaders are all in excess of $100,000.00 a year plus all kinds of extra’s. Every time a union member gets a raise so does the union. They are just as greedy as the government. And remember this is all tax payers money.

  14. Dennis Fox says:

    The very thing that distinguishes Canada from many other countries is our strong public services – healthcare, education, social services, police, fire, etc… – service that have served the public very well in a cost effective manner. It seems that in many countries (i.e. – like Britain and the US) it is only the conservative governments who constantly want to cut, cut, cut. (Trump is a perfect example) They claim it is to keep taxes low – but at no time after the cuts have taxes gone down – in truth their real motive is to privatize the system to place more money into the pockets of the rich. Brexit is a perfect example of this greed – and if it wasn’t for the sudden onset of COVID, Boris would have dismantled the NHS, as he had already started to do and the people would have had a ‘pay for it first” system. Something we do not want here in Canada.

    Parents and our society in general owe a lot to CUPE and to all public servant unions (nurses, doctors, teachers, etc…) for standing up to a bully and staring him down. Our services do not belong to any government – they belong to the people!

  15. Chuck says:

    Well that’s one side of the disagreement. CUPE realized their walkout was illegal and would be deemed so by the the Labour Relations Board. Premier Ford in goodwill provided the Union an out and thank goodness commom sense prevailed and they will return to the bargaining table.

  16. Suzanne Lucas says:

    The case for CUPE members is very easy to understand. They are the lowest paid education workers who are making less now than they did 10 years ago in real dollars. The work they do is vital to the success of public education. Doug Ford is the highest paid Premier in Canada who just gave his new cabinet members a $16000+ raise during Covid paid for by Ontario tax payers.He chose to keep strip clubs open while shutting public schools longer than every other jurisdiction in North America. The feds gave them billions to keep schools safe during the pandemic but they chose instead to sit on that money.That’s why when they say they have to “use every tool” to keep schools open it sounds like a lie.Parents are weary of at home online learning and know that children learn best at school but when students fell behind during the pandemic Doug Ford’s solution is to give every parent $200. The Toronto Star editorial board likened this to an innkeeper with a leaky roof who instead of fixing the roof offers guests pails to catch the drips.This government is determined to undermine public education and crush the rights of people who make less than $40,000. Or maybe they are just so bad at the negotiating game they had to kick over the game board and kick the pieces into the gutter. The vast majority of Ontarians want this government to end their bully tactics, pick up the pieces and go back to the negotiating table.

  17. ADJ says:

    Really who pays for these increases every time the union threatens a strike? Let me remind you..it’s the taxpayer! Does the average everyday wage earner($15.00/hr.) have a near full benefit package plus a paid into pension plan? Don’t think so.They struggle even with two jobs! Don’t get all boo hoo about the support workers situation. It’s called brainwashing. Believe it or not many were happy with their present contract. It’s the Union bosses who want a pay increase for themselves. Support workers.. Chuck and Steve speak the truth. Watch for your Union fees to increase drastically the longer this strike drags on.

  18. Susan says:

    The Union would not budge from the 11.7% demand at the negotiating table. They only presented the 6% offer after declaring a strike. That’s not sincere negotiating.

  19. Henri Gilbert Garand says:

    The media reports on this situation are woefully lacking in context. Since CUPE represents a wide range of employees, it’s difficult to assess whether they are underpaid for their work. For example, what do school custodians earn, and how does it compare to cleaners, janitors and maintenance workers in the private sector? How do wages for educational support workers compare to those in other provinces?

    If CUPE’s members haven’t had wage increases equal to or above the cost of living in ten years, it’s important to remember that this occurred under both Liberal and Conservative governments. Does union leadership take no responsibility for this consistent decline? Compare Ontario teachers who earn average salaries among the highest, if not the highest, in Canada.

    Finally, if the Ontario government had not imposed a contract and CUPE had gone ahead with its announced strike because negotiations were stalled, would the public be supportive? Would the Ontario government be expected to accede to union demands, or would it be faulted for not taking proactive action?

    As someone who has negotiated collective agreements, I know that labor disputes are never as simple and straightforward as outsiders think. Settlements don’t just address specific circumstances but reflect general economic conditions and the status of other relevant labor negotiations.

  20. David Thomas says:

    The actions on both sides need to be viewed in the broader context of the upcoming negotiations with the other education unions. In the case of the EAs etc., I support a greater than cost-of-living raise. Split the difference and give them 6%. What I don’t support is the other unions then using that as a benchmark for their own negotiations. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

    I also believe that taking away the legal right to strike through the use of legislation in a political system that largely lacks checks and balances (if there is a majority government) is an abuse of power that should remain the purview of authoritarian governments.

    The province is broke, the kids need to be in school, the teachers unions despise Conservatives, and here we are. I yearn for the days when people of different political stripes respected each other.

  21. Don says:

    Really now, how many people want the provincial government to use the Nothwithstanding clause to force an end to a labour dispute? Will he do the same thing when bus drivers go on strike? By taking this course of action, Doug is admitting that he is not capable of negotiating a settlement. We don’t need a bully in Queen’s Park. We need a leader.

  22. Dennis Fox says:

    People need to understand a few basic points here – like the rest of the education sector, CUPE has not has a pay raise at or above the inflation rate in over 10 years – resulting in their income falling far behind the cost of living. Secondly, it was not any of the employees who kept schools closed in Ontario during the pandemic – that was all Ford. During this same time period the Province of Ontario held back federal funding earmarked for COVID safety measures for schools – totaling over $2BILLION – more than enough to pay CUPE. The idea of unions being the problem is an old empty excuse – if it weren’t for unions and the labour movement at the turn of the century there would be no public education system at all and there would still be forced child labour. So stop with the grinding away at working people and start picking up the phone to ask our MPP to get back to the negotiating table – there are other choices for the schools to be open.

  23. Chuck says:

    Union leaders always get nice raises annually off the members! Hmmm.

  24. Steve says:

    maybe CUPE could reduce their union dues by 50% to help their brothers and sisters?

  25. Fred says:

    Unions demanding a crazy wage increase (proposal from the union now of roughly 6 per cent, below its previous demand of 11.7 per cent.) and refusing to budge and threatening a strike at the negotiating table need to be brought back to reality.

  26. Bob says:

    It’s clear some folks commenting don’t know who got them: unemployment insurance, pensions, benefits, health and safety measures, maternity & parental benefits, standard work hours, paid sick days and more.

    Unions got you those. You’re welcome.

    Worst government we will ever see.

    Solidarity!!

  27. Dee says:

    “MPPs passed a fast-tracked bill that uses the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to pre-empt a legal strike” This is just one moe example of the province’s desire to muzzle the public in order to eliminate what they perceive as impediments or unnecessary hindrances on their power. October 25 Bill 23 virtually tied up and gagged the public from being able to express their concerns regarding development by making public consultations non mandatory and eliminating “3rd Party” participation in Ontario Land Tribunal hearings. To top it off the the series of More Homes bills (3) allows intervention into municipal decisions. It is amazing that male dominated unions have received much higher rate increases and beenefits but here where females are the dominant gender negotiating for fair wages and conditions, the province deems they should have no rights and take what the stroongman throws on the table. Lets hope arbitration comes into the picture, at least there could be a chance for a fairer assesment. Depressing to see our democratic riights being peeled away like the layers of an onion. The province appears to have formulated a war strategy…hit differrent issues at the same time, in hopes that some go unnoticed while the media focus is centred one…like attacking from all fronts. Should we begin calling their leader General?

  28. Dan says:

    See you on the picket lines. Bully Governments won’t win!

  29. Dennis Fox says:

    Just remember that Ford gave himself and his caucus (who are mostly men) a $16,600/yr raise. He offers CUPE (who are mostly women) a $700/yr raise. Do you think MPPs work harder than those who are taking care of your kids?

  30. J Dall says:

    11% is simply unreasonable.

  31. Myrna says:

    Doug Ford, a rich man, has kept wage increases to 1% while inflation has surged. Some teacher assistants have to work 2 jobs to pay the rent. Can Conseervatives ever be reasonable?

  32. Bruce Nicholson says:

    So sad that the Union is using the children as their pawns in their fight. Children missed significant class time during the pandemic. The Union does not care about the students, only lining their members’ pockets.

  33. Michelle says:

    I am pleased that our government is standing up to this Union and their unreasonable demands. Unions can’t be allowed to hold the public hostage and harm our students. They have shown no sincere attempt to negotiate in good faith.

  34. Gary says:

    Union should have accepted the offer.It was reasonable with so many hurting making far less.

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