CUPE strike averted and schools are open Monday

CUPE and the Province reached a tentative agreement Sunday hours before a strike deadline that would have impacted dozens of school boards throughout Ontario.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce addressed the media saying “parents can rest easy knowing that the Government worked tirelessly to ensure their children remain in the classroom, where they belong.”

55,000 custodians, clerical workers and early childhood educators represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) began a work-to-rule campaign last week that failed to pressure the province into making concessions in a collective agreement.

They then announced that they’d strike if they didn’t reach a deal by Oct 7.

A major sticking point centered on sick days, the province said education workers take on average more than 15 per year. CUPE says the province agreed to maintain the current sick leave plan.

The union says they didn’t give up anything in the negotiations. In fact, they say more than a thousand jobs will return to the province following their tentative deal.

The union says it was also able to secure modest wage increases for their members. The union says education workers make on average $38-thousand a year. That makes them some of the lowest-paid workers in the education system.

Lecce added that “by negotiating in good faith, all parties have demonstrated that a tentative deal can be achieved. This is welcome news for families, students, and workers alike, as schools remain opened across our province. We will continue to negotiate in good faith to ensure students in this province remain in class.”

Premier Doug Ford is praising the work of Minister Lecce saying “Throughout this process our goal has been to establish agreements that respect taxpayers, students and families, while also recognizing the important contributions of our front-line education workers. Our government worked tirelessly at the bargaining table to achieve this goal and as a result two million students will remain in the classroom where they belong.

On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I am proud of the work Minister Lecce has done to achieve our goals and we will continue to negotiate in good faith with all of our bargaining partners.”