Solidarity with CUPE education workers, defend the Charter

The Ford government is about to pass pre-emptive back-to-work legislation and impose a contract on 55,000 CUPE education workers instead of negotiating with them. This is an attempt to force the lowest-paid education workers to accept a deal that keeps them at poverty-level wages. And in an unprecedented move, the Ford government is invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to override these members Charter right to strike.

These frontline education workers deserve better than this, and the heavy-handed tactics that the Ford government is stooping to are appalling.

TAKE ACTION: Find a picket line to join on Friday.

CUPE is fighting for an agreement that makes our schools safer learning environments for our kids. They’re fighting for us: our kids to have more educational assistants, early childhood educators, youth workers, and guaranteed staffing and service levels. They’re fighting to keep all school libraries open for kids, improved cleaning standards, and to tackle maintenance backlogs. And they shouldn’t make poverty-line wages doing this important work.

The overall cost of meeting CUPE’s demands? An estimated $240 million a year. For context, the Financial Accountability Office is projecting a budget surplus this year, and further surpluses for the next five years, growing to $8.5 billion—which makes it clear that the money is there, it’s just not being spent.

What the Ford conservatives are doing is a choice, and a bet. They’re choosing not to increase the wages of the lowest-paid education workers in the province (whose wages have remained frozen for the better part of the last decade).

And they’re betting that we won’t care.

So I’m writing to you today to urge you to show Doug Ford that he’s wrong about us. That when he tramples on the Charter rights of our friends at CUPE, we will respond. Collective bargaining becomes meaningless if governments can legislate away the right to strike, and if this happens without significant push back, it sets a dangerous precedent for all workers.

CUPE education workers have committed to taking action on Friday in spite of the draconian legislation—no matter the cost. The legislation threatens to fine workers $4,000 per day and the union $500,000 per day. But still, they are saying they will not be at work on Friday. This shows incredible courage and resolve, and I invite you to join them.


Alex Silas
Regional Executive Vice-President, NCR