Thousands of Ontario unionized school workers set for job action starting Monday

Thousands of Ontario unionized school workers set for job action starting Monday

Some 55,000 unionized school custodians, office staff, early childhood educators, and education assistants are gearing up for job action next week.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees members, who recently voted 93 per cent in favour of a strike, will give school boards across Ontario the requisite five-day notice on Wednesday.

“On Sept. 30, we will be in a legal strike position,” Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said in an interview Tuesday.

“We will be working to rule. We will not be going into a full strike,” said Walton, adding the employees will no longer being doing any “unpaid work.”

Parents and students will notice that because 80 per cent of the union members, who make an average of $38,000 a year, perform tasks that are considered unpaid, such as sweeping school hallways, due to budget cuts.

“People who earn $38,000 a year are not the cause of the deficit,” she said.

The labour action will affect every publicly funded school in Ontario.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce expressed disappointment that contract talks broke off with the union.


“Earlier today, after talks broke off with CUPE and the employers over the weekend, CUPE announced their intent to give notice to strike,” said Lecce.

“Our government remains focused on keeping kids in the classroom and delivering a deal that gives students and parents predictability and certainty. This will not change,” he said.

“I urge CUPE and the employers to come back to the table and direct their efforts toward reaching a deal as quickly possible. Our government remains available at any time to restart talks with CUPE and keep students in school. Kids and parents deserve no less.”

Federal Conservatives are worried that any job action blamed on Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives could affect Andrew Scheer’s candidates in Ontario in the Oct. 21 election.

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Robert Benzie

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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