Ontario education workers to begin province-wide job action on Sept. 10

Teachers and supporters from Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby, Ont. walk the picket line outside the Durham District School Board on April 28 2015.
Teachers and supporters from Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby, Ont. walk the picket line outside the Durham District School Board on April 28 2015. Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

TORONTO — The union representing 55,000 education workers in Ontario announced Friday that it will commence job action on Sept. 10.

Canadian Union of Public Employees’s Ontario School Boards Coordinating Committee Chair Terri Preston said her members’ work is essential to student success in schools and that they are serious about the services they provide and “being treated with respect at work.”

“We are starting really with asking people to respect their existing contracts. So very simply, people will not be working through their lunches and breaks, they will not be taking work home in order to finish the work that exists, we will not be attending unpaid meetings, we will only work the hours for which we’re paid and things of that nature,” Preston said.

“Students will not likely feel an impact on this but I do think that administrators will see a difference in having to provide coverage when people actually step away from their desk in order to take a break.”

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Our hope, we have five bargaining dates coming up — starting on the 10th actually, and it is our hope that with the help of the concilliator we can get a collective agreement that shows respect for the work that we do and so we will need to escalate our action if we’re unable to reach an agreement.

The OSBCC filed their intentions with the province and the Council of Trustees Association (CTA) Thursday evening. The union must provide five days’ notice prior to any job action under the new School Board Collective Bargaining Act.

CUPE local unions representing education workers in four school boards across Ontario voted to escalate job action beginning the first week of school. Details on the specifics of the job action have not yet been released.

READ MORE: Ontario school support workers to escalate job action in latest bargaining move

“We’re moving forward with this plan and the first step begins with work-to-rule on September 10th,” said Preston.

The union plans to begin with work-to-rule before increasing to rotating strikes and eventually ramping up to a provincewide strike.

CUPE says the workers – which include educational assistants, custodians, early childhood educators, and speech pathologists – have been without a contract for year.

The job action effects education workers such as educational assistants, office administrators, custodians, tradespeople, instructors, library technicians, early childhood educators, IT specialists, speech pathologists and others.

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The union represents education workers in elementary and secondary schools, public and Catholic school boards and French and English systems.

With a file from The Canadian Press