The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union that represents education workers in Ontario, have voted in favour of a legal strike position, The Canadian Press reports.
Around 93 per cent of its 55,000 members voted in favour of job action due to the province’s recent decisions (regarding average class sizes, shifts towards online learning models and a gradual reduction in the number of working teachers), which means they could take a legal strike position as of Sept. 30.
CUPE represents 55,000 workers, including custodians, clerical staff and educational assistants.
Earlier, the CP said that CUPE requested what is known as a “no-board report,” which starts a countdown toward a potential strike.
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Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, expressed disappointment with CUPE’s announcement.
“As the school year begins, it is important that parents, students and educators know that I remain on their side, committed to keeping kids in the classroom,” Lecce said in a statement.
“I am disappointed that CUPE has decided to take this action, however, I am pleased that an agreement was reached with CUPE and the school boards to appoint Bill Kaplan as a mediator.”
“Mr. Kaplan is a highly respected, senior labour mediator. I believe that with the assistance of Mr. Kaplan, we can resolve our differences at the bargaining table so that students can remain in class where they belong. My team is ready to continue meeting to negotiate a deal that puts our students first and provides the predictability our parents deserve.”
The CP said more bargaining dates were scheduled for Sept. 16 and 17.
“We continue to call on all parties to reach a deal in good faith, as soon as possible, to provide confidence and predictability to parents, students, and educators alike,” Lecce said.
The government is also in the process of bargaining with several unions that represent teachers.
Contracts with teachers unions expired on Aug. 31.