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.
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.
- Sign up with this form to receive ongoing updates about the situation.
- Find a picket line here with this handy tool. Put in your address and it will show you the closest pickets. All pickets Friday run 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. To hear about future actions, subscribe to this list.
- Can’t make it to the picket line? Have a lunch-time rally outside your workplace with your coworkers, take a photo and share it to the hashtags #39kisnotenough #PSACsolidarity
- Use these profile and cover photos on social media. The Facebook cover image should work for virtual backgrounds.
- Send a letter to Doug Ford and your MPP with CUPE’s online tool (below the picket finder)
Regional Executive Vice-President, NCR