Christmas came early for the Ministry of Education as they’ve achieved another deal with a group of education workers. The rare Sunday news comes from the Ontario Council of Educational Workers (OCEW), a collection of unions representing thousands of education workers in schools around the province, who have now reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario government after a days-long stretch of bargaining.
“We are proud to announce that another tentative central agreement has been reached with the education workers represented by the Ontario Council of Educational Workers,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce in a statement. “This further demonstrates that our government can deliver agreements with education unions that ensure children remain in class, where they belong.”
There’s no word on what’s in the tentative agreement, and no details will be released until both the government and the union ratify it. If approved, this would be the second labour agreement successfully negotiated by the Ministry of Education in the last several weeks after an 11th hour agreement was reached with 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) earlier this month.
A statement released by the OCEW was pretty direct. “The Ontario Council of Educational Workers (OCEW) reached a tentative agreement at the 2022 central table collective bargaining process,” it read. “The deal was reached after multiple days of negotiations by OCEW, The Council of Trustees’ Associations, and the Crown.
“OCEW’s signatory unions will take the tentative deal to their members and conduct the respective ratification votes across the province in the coming weeks,” it added.
The OCEW is made up of COPE Ontario, Locals 103, 429, 654, 527 and 529; the Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel; the Essex & Kent Counties Skilled Trades Council; the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 837; the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council; and Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Support Staff and ESL Teachers. According to OPSEU, these unions have been working without a contract since 2014.
While this certainly represents an accomplishment of the Ministry of Education, especially after a November 4 strike in reaction to the Ontario government’s use of the notwithstanding clause to force CUPE workers into an agreement earlier this fall, this is not the end of the labour negotiations. The provincial government still needs to reach a deal with the four major teachers’ unions: the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers;’ Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario (ACÉPO).