Ontario education workers will announce at 10 a.m. on Monday whether the tentative deal they reached with the Ford government will be ratified.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 55,000 custodians, early childhood educators, secretaries, and educational assistants, has been in an ongoing battle with the Ford government asking for better wages, and improved working and learning conditions in schools.
In early November, education workers went on strike in response to tabled legislation that would impose them into a contract, prompting the government to rescind the bill to put an end to the walk out. In a matter of days, education workers issued a second strike notice, citing that talks with the province had broken down.
On November 20, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced that the second strike was averted after a tentative deal had been reached. Later that week, a ratification vote was set up online for workers to voice their opinions on the agreement.
The last day workers can cast a vote is Sunday, December 4. Laura Walton, an educational assistant and the president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU), is scheduled to make a public announcement the following morning at 10 a.m.
“For the last week and a half, frontline education workers have been deciding if what’s in this tentative agreement is acceptable,” said Walton. “This – workers having the freedom to negotiate and to withdraw our labour if necessary – is democracy in action.”
The tentative agreement included a wage increase, however, Walton commented that the deal “falls short” when it comes to hiring new staff and implementing new services.
Walton has previously said that if the deal is not ratified, the provincial government and CUPE’s central bargaining committee will head back to the negotiating table.