Frontline educators are ready to fight for what students need in the classroom and what they need to do their jobs even better.
In the wake of the provincial election in which Prime Minister Doug Ford unequivocally told workers “I’m always here for you” and repeatedly pledged to “take action”, and 90 days before the start of the next school year, 55,000 education workers across Ontario are taking take him at his word when they give him a warning to negotiate.
“Now is the time to avoid classroom disruptions in September,” said Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) from CUPE† “Education workers in the CUPE are ready to negotiate an agreement that protects and expands the services offered to students while increasing the wages of the lowest-paid workers in the education system.
“The re-elected prime minister can prevent nuisance for students this fall,” said Ms Walton. “He should ask his negotiators to sit down with us now to negotiate a deal that puts students and workers first.”
Years of systematic and structural underfunding by the Conservative and preceding Liberal governments have resulted in staff shortages and unsustainable wages for teaching staff. If their demands are met, these systemic problems will be solved to meet the needs of students and create good jobs for teaching staff, two goals that will benefit all communities in the province.
“Concierges need to know that there will be enough of them to handle the next wave of covid-19. Office workers come early and stay late, unpaid, to keep the safety of students and our schools running smoothly. Teacher assistants are finding that more is needed to provide the one-on-one support that students and parents need. Early childhood educators should be present in all kindergarten classrooms to provide our youngest students with the hands-on experiences four and five year olds need,” explained Ms Walton.
“The predominately female school staff noticed Prime Minister Ford’s focus on private sector jobs,” said Ms Walton. “We remind him that this province is working through us and that we are done with the disrespectful austerity measures that scare education workers.”
“Whether schools across the county receive enough funding to end the damaging budget cuts is a political choice for our elected representatives,” said Ms. Walton. † the Ontario is Canada’s wealthiest province, and the money controlled by just 59 billionaires has grown by more than $100 billion during the pandemic. This government has no excuse to skimp on the future of our children.”
- Fifty-five thousand frontline education workers are calling to negotiate with the Ontario government and the Council of School Trustee Associations. Central notice to negotiate given by the Ontario School Board Council of Unions of CUPE also advises the Council of School Trustees’ Associations to negotiate locally with 63 English- and French-speaking public and Catholic school boards
- The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCAC) calculates that Doug Ford’s progressive conservative government cut education funding by $800 per student (adjusted for inflation) during its first term. With two million students attending schools in Ontario, this translates into a $1.6 billion reduction in the 2021-2022 school year, an amount that could help improve student support and increase workforce and productivity levels. salaries of teaching staff.
- Educational workers deserve a pay rise. Over the past decade, their wages have fallen significantly below inflation. This is largely due to legislative interference in free collective bargaining, which has used state power to limit wage increases for the lowest-paid workers in the education sector. Bill 115 under the previous Liberal government froze wages for two years. Bill 124, under the current progressive conservative government, imposed a strict limit of 1% increase per year for three years, although all indications are that this is below inflation and other trends.
- The result of these attacks on education workers’ wages and collective bargaining agreements is that wage agreements from 2012 to 2021 are 8.8% (composite), while inflation is 19.5% until the end of 2021. If inflation is well above 6% in 2022, the wage cut for teaching staff will be 17%. This gap between wage increases and inflation has been imposed on workers who are necessary for the proper functioning of the education system, namely those who provide essential services directly and indirectly to students so that their schools can work for them. The wage cap was imposed on employees, of whom 84.2% earn less than $50,000 per year and 96.6% earn less than $60,000 per year.