Education workers vote to ratify agreement

CUPE education workers protesting outside MPP Todd Smith's office last month. (Desirée Decoste/

Ontario’s frontline Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education workers have voted to ratify their next collective agreement with the Council of the Trustees’ Association (CTA) and the provincial government.

“My coworkers and I stood up to the Ford government to get a forced contact off our backs as part of the repeal of the anti-worker Bill 28,” said Laura Walton, educational assistant and president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU). “This collective agreement is our first in 10 years to be freely bargained instead of forced on us with legislative interference. It’s the product of democracy in action – workers having the freedom to negotiate and to withdraw our labour if necessary.”

Out of the 55,000 CUPE education workers a total of 41,559 cast ballots, and 30,330 or 73 per cent, voted yes to accept the tentative agreement that was reached by their central bargaining committee Nov. 20.

“55,000 frontline education workers considered whether the tentative agreement their bargaining committee negotiated is acceptable, and the majority said ‘yes’,” Walton explained. “Because we stood up for fairness and freedom, refusing to be bullied anymore, we ended up with an agreement that’s free of concessions and we more then doubled the wage increase the Ford government tried to impose on us.”

The online ratification vote began Nov. 24 and ended Dec. 4, with 76 per cent of frontline education workers participating.

“To the parents who joined us in demanding improved services for Ontario’s students: Together we have exposed this government’s appalling track record of underfunding public education,” Walton concluded. “My coworkers and I will never stop advocating for your children. Change isn’t only own at the bargaining table and we are going to keep mobilizing with you for better funding.”

“Since negotiations began, we have been guided by the belief that kids should be in class,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “We are so pleased we’ve been able to reach an agreement that has been overwhelmingly ratified by the members that keeps kids in classrooms and preserves the learning experience, like clubs and extra curricular.”