Strike or political protest? Ontario takes education workers’ union to labour board amid Friday walkout


Thousands of Ontario education employees hit picket strains Friday within the first day of an indefinite walkout that has closed faculties throughout the province, after the federal government handed controversial laws that imposed a contract and rendered any strike motion unlawful.

School board employees represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) had been protesting at politicians’ workplaces, together with a whole lot of members outdoors Queen’s Park and the education minister’s constituency workplace in Vaughan, Ont. Members of different unions — together with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and Unifor — additionally joined the picketers.

On Thursday, the Progressive Conservative authorities enacted Bill 28, a legislation that imposed contracts on 55,000 CUPE members and banned them from putting. The legislation additionally makes use of the however clause to shield towards constitutional challenges — a authorized mechanism that has solely been used twice in Ontario’s historical past, each instances by the governments of Premier Doug Ford.

CUPE says the legislation is an assault on all employees’ bargaining rights and is staging a walkout anyway, warning that it’s going to final till the federal government repeals the bill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau known as the Ford authorities’s laws an “assault on one of the primary rights out there, that of collective bargaining.”

Asked if the federal authorities is contemplating referring using the however clause to the Supreme Court of Canada, Trudeau mentioned it’s taking a look at “all choices.”

Aaron Guppy, a caretaker at York Region District School Board, was picketing outdoors of Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s workplace.

“If they take away our rights as a union, each different union is subsequent. They usually are not going to cease with simply us,” he mentioned.

“We are simply right here to principally present that we aren’t going to again down, we aren’t going to take this horrible deal. The individuals assist us,” Guppy mentioned.

Maria Gallant, a college secretary, was at Queen’s Park very first thing this morning. She informed CBC News that the strike could also be unlawful after the federal government handed Bill 28, however CUPE members had been left with no selection however to take motion.

“We want our voices to be heard and for the federal government to understand this isn’t acceptable … We are simply asking to be paid what we deserve, nothing extra.”

CUPE members and supporters rally outdoors of Queen’s Park in Toronto on the primary day of a strike that closed faculties in boards throughout the province. (Carlos Osorio/CBC)

Government appeals to labour board

Over the previous week, CUPE has gone from asserting the job motion as a protest to calling it a strike, however Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, insisted Friday’s walkout was actually a “political protest.”

“We’re not out in entrance of faculties. We’re out in entrance of MPPs’ workplaces,” Walton informed reporters.

Whether that language will matter within the face of the province’s newly handed laws stays to be seen.

Bill 28 units out fines for violating a prohibition on strikes for the lifetime of the settlement of up to $4,000 per worker per day, whereas there are fines of up to $500,000 for the union.

Lecce has advised the federal government would certainly pursue these penalties, whereas the union has mentioned it could foot the bill for fines levied towards employees, which may price as a lot as $220 million per day.

As of Friday afternoon CUPE will not be conscious of any fines imposed on the members or union, Walton informed CBC News Friday afternoon.

For its half, CUPE plans to struggle any fines, however on the finish of the day, the union has mentioned if it has to pay, it is going to pay. CUPE leaders have beforehand advised that the union is searching for outdoors monetary assist from different labour teams.

The authorities has taken CUPE to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, in search of to have the strike declared unlawful and the actions by union leaders to encourage the job motion declared illegal. A listening to started late Friday afternoon and was set to proceed into Saturday.

Lecce reiterated that the federal government “will use each software out there” to get college students again in lecture rooms.

Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, insisted Friday’s walkout was a ‘political protest,’ moderately than a strike. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, insisted employees “have the best to protest for his or her rights, to demand one thing higher from “a authorities that’s sitting on a $2.1-billion surplus, a authorities refusing to truly spend money on our faculties.”

Many faculty boards throughout the province, together with the Toronto District School Board and most boards in japanese Ontario, have mentioned faculties will likely be closed throughout a strike, whereas others plan to transfer to distant studying.

The Ministry of Education has urged faculty boards to “implement contingency plans, the place each effort is made to maintain faculties open for as many kids as attainable” and in any other case “should assist college students in a speedy transition to distant studying.”

Speaking to CBC News, Hahn careworn that CUPE would return to the bargaining “in a heartbeat” if the federal government repeals Bill 28 and mentioned that not one of the union members need to be on strike. He additionally appealed immediately to dad and mom who could also be pissed off after two years of pandemic-related disruptions to studying.

“I’d remind them that none of our individuals need to do that, that we had been pressured right into a nook by a authorities that stripped us of our rights,” Hahn mentioned.

“I’d remind them that it is not nearly conserving youngsters in faculties, as a result of faculties are simply buildings. It’s concerning the individuals in these faculties.”

WATCH | ​​Striking Ontario education employees, supporters vow to struggle for his or her rights:

​​Striking Ontario education employees, supporters vow to struggle for his or her rights

​Education employees strolling picket strains throughout Ontario on Friday, together with their supporters, say they don’t seem to be solely preventing for his or her rights and a livable wage, but additionally for extra help from the provincial authorities for his or her college students.

Support from different labour unions

The strike motion by CUPE has been met with vocal assist from labour unions, together with some outdoors of the sphere of education. 

Some 8,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) additionally walked off the job in the present day in a present of solidarity with education employees.

About 20,000 OSSTF members do jobs related to these CUPE education employees at the moment on strike, and the union is concerned in its personal ongoing contract negotiations with the federal government with three days of bargaining scheduled for subsequent week.

LISTEN | Construction union that endorsed Ford says it has ‘purchaser’s regret’:

Metro Morning8:08Will the Ford authorities’s anti-strike laws “unleash the labour big?”

Karen Littlewood, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and Mike Gallagher , enterprise supervisor for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793 talk about the implications of the Ford Government’s anti-strike bill and its use of the however clause.

Meanwhile, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Local 793 — a non-public sector building union — is publicly calling on the federal government to repeal Bill 28. 

“We are very involved about CUPE, however we’re additionally frightened about proper throughout the nation, the however clause turning into a baseball bat to beat up employees,” mentioned Mike Gallagher, enterprise supervisor for Local 793, additionally in an interview with Metro Morning.

IUOE endorsed Ford and his PCs forward of the provincial election final June, the primary time it had supported a right-of-centre get together. Gallagher it was a selection based mostly on Ford’s assist for the Highway 413 megaproject.

“I’m having purchaser’s regret, I assume you could possibly say. We supported him however he certain did not have utilizing the however clause to assault employees’ rights in his platform, as I recall,” Gallagher mentioned. 

He additionally questioned the silence from Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, who has spent a great deal of effort making an attempt to construct inroads with labour unions, notably within the expert trades.

Both OSSTF and IUOE have mentioned its members will again education employees in any attainable, together with financially, within the weeks forward.

CUPE members lowest-paid education employees: union

The authorities initially provided raises of two per cent a 12 months for employees making lower than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all others, however Lecce mentioned the brand new, imposed four-year deal would give 2.5 per cent annual raises to employees making lower than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent raises for all others.

CUPE has mentioned that framing will not be correct as a result of the raises truly depend upon hourly wages and pay scales, so the vast majority of employees who earn lower than $43,000 in a 12 months would not get 2.5 per cent.

CUPE has mentioned its employees, who make on common $39,000 a 12 months, are typically the bottom paid in faculties and had been in search of annual wage will increase of 11.7 per cent.

The union mentioned it minimize its wage proposal by greater than half in a counter-offer it gave the federal government Tuesday night time and made “substantial” strikes in different areas as effectively. However, the federal government mentioned it could not negotiate except CUPE cancelled the strike.

WATCH | CUPE management heckles MPPs as they vote on Bill 28:

​Ford skips last vote on bill barring education employees’ strike

​Supporters of Ontario education employees protested within the gallery of the provincial legislature on Thursday, simply moments after Premier Doug Ford missed the ultimate vote to go laws making it unlawful for 55,000 education employees to strike and imposing a contract on them.


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