Since the summer, members of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) have been in bargaining with the provincial government. The union, which belongs to 55,000 workers at primary and secondary schools and school boards across Ontario, has been fighting for a collective agreement that delivers some semblance of economic justice for severely underpaid educational workers, many of whom earn just $39,000 a year.
The OSBCU is also fighting for a collective agreement that ensures safer, healthier, and more effective public schools by committing the government to hire more educational workers, adequately staff school libraries, guarantee healthier cleaning standards, and tackle maintenance backlogs. To back these demands, OSBCU members voted 96.5% in favour of strike action.
Rather than bargain in good faith with these essential workers, many of whom have made profound sacrifices to keep our schools running throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Ford Government has tabled legislation to override their constitutionally protected right to strike and impose a four-year collective agreement. By invoking the “Notwithstanding Clause” the government is also attempting to shield its legislation from judicial review, because it knows what it’s doing is otherwise unconstitutional.
This legislation is an assault not just on the OSBCU members who are seeing their constitutional rights trampled, but on every single worker in the province. There is no reason to believe that the legislation applies to us, but this move signals that the Ontario Government has no respect for the right to strike and bargaining collectively.
In response, CUPE and a number of other labour organizations across the province will be supporting OSBCU members at picket lines and demonstrations tomorrow, November 4th. We are strongly encouraging all CUPE 3906 members to participate and show support.
Some CUPE 3906 members will be participating in the picket line at MPP Neil Lumsden’s constituency office tomorrow morning between 8:30 and 10:30am. His office is located at 115 Hwy 8 in Stoney Creek, and is accessible by bus. If you’re interested in joining, please let us know. We may be able to arrange transportation (so if you have a car and are willing to drive a few people, please also let us know!).
There will also be demonstrations happening from 8-4 tomorrow at Limeridge Mall and Eastgate Square. If you live outside of Hamilton but would like to attend a picket line or demonstration near you, you can used OSBCU’s picket line finder by punching in your postal code at www.cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully.
If you plan to attend a picket line, please consider printing out a sign to bring with you, in colour if you can. If you get any pictures of yourself on a picket line with a sign, feel free to share it on social media and tag us in your post!
The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee