Ontario education workers under the Canadian Union of Public Employees, have voted in favour of a four-year contract with the provincial government.
“It’s been a long road to get here,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions, who released the results at Queen’s Park on Monday morning.
“The provincial government thought they could play the same type of games with us that governments have used against workers for years. They thought they could divide us, they thought they could dictate terms on us. They thought we’d roll over we’d suck it up and we’d accept less than we’re worth and less than our schools needs,” she said.
“Instead, we stood our ground. We stared down this government … we shook this province with our protests. We showed Ontarians that you can stand up to a bully for what is just and right, and we ended up with a deal that more than doubled the wage increase that the government tried to force upon us.”
Walton — who had said she didn’t like the deal because it didn’t come with staffing level guarantees — said about 76 per cent of the union’s 55,000 education worker members voted during the ratification process.
Of the 55,000 members, 41,559 voted and 30,330 approved the deal.
The ratification ends a whirlwind bargaining process that saw education workers walk off the job for two days after the government passed — then later repealed — legislation that imposed a contract on them, banned them from striking, and used the notwithstanding clause to allow the override of certain charter rights.
The two sides later returned to the table and brokered a tentative deal on Nov. 20 that the union says comes with a $1-per-hour raise each year, or about 3.59 per cent annually, for the average worker.
CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn noted that four times more workers voted than in the last round of bargaining, which he called “proof of “members’ commitment, engagement and determination to have their voices heard.”