At least one public union representing Ontario’s school workers has taken the first step to job action this week with the issuance of a no-board report. A no-board starts a 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout, but does that mean school will be out again by the end of September for the Canadian Union of Public Employees?
Laura Walton said in a statement posted to the CUPE website that the Government of Ontario’s position remains intractable as they say one thing to the media, and another thing behind closed doors at the bargaining table. Walton is the president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which is directing the collective bargaining for 55,000 CUPE members.
“They will not move from proposals that hurt students by cutting their services. They will not consider proposals that will ensure a fairer deal for CUPE education workers, so that we can deliver high-quality services,” the statement reads. “They seem unwilling to work with us to reach an agreement that will give Ontario students a well supported, well rounded, publicly funded and publicly delivered education.”
A statement from the Minister of Education tried to look on the bright side of things.
“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,” said Stephen Lecce. “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,” he added.
CUPE though is making the point that they’re also looking out for parents and students. “CUPE education workers will continue to engage with parents, guardians, other unions, allies and other community supporters about the importance of their services and the negative impact of the cuts have to our students, schools and communities,” it read.
So far, only CUPE has filed a no board report, and they added that strike votes are taking place now among the various CUPE locals through to September 15. The outcome of the strike votes will be revealed on September 17, CUPE said.
Meanwhile, other teachers unions seem to not be making any (public) waves at this time. There’s no statement about work action on the Ontario Teachers Federation website, nor is there on the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario site.
Over on the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation website, the pending employment drama was addressed in a fairly general way.
“This September, though, that excitement and anticipation is accompanied by apprehension and uncertainty because Ontario’s world-class education system is under attack by our own provincial government,” Harvey Bischof, president of OSSTF, said in a back to school message.
Bischof called the cuts from the provincial government a “war on education” and that the effects are already evident with the cancellation of courses and programs, and the fact that some teachers have already been laid off.
“The stark reality is this: just as we are the front-line workers in our universities and our schools, we have no choice but to assume the front lines in the struggle to defend the public education system that we have built together,” said Bischof.
“I urge all of you to stay active and informed during the coming year.”
So stay tuned…
Photo Courtesy of Global News