Bargaining Update

Dear Sisters and Brothers;

Your Provincial Bargaining Committee met on September 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th and 17th. To this day, the following key issues are still unresolved:

  • Maternity leave language which was proposed by the Province was less superior than that which was offered at any other bargaining table;
  • Sick leave: the Province wants to reduce your short-term sick leave from 90% down to 85%, and you must be at work at the beginning of the school year 20 consecutive days before your sick bank is replenished;
  • The Province is asking the CUPE Provincial Bargaining Committee to try to find “savings” in order to offset any wage increase;
  • The Province has proposed a new benefit structure which would be called a “Benefit Trust”.  At this point, CUPE National has hired an actuary to review what would meet our members needs.  Pulling information across the province regarding benefits proves to be a challenge.  If there is a Benefit Trust, it would be quite different from the teachers.  If a Benefit Trust is established, CUPE would be the majority stake holder;
  • There are frustrating discussions around preparation time for EA’s and the attendance of a caretaker in a school at all times (i.e. rentals);
  • The CTA (Council of Trustee Association) refuses a basic union right for seniority for all casuals; and
  • The job security language which was proposed to CUPE was insulting and was nothing more than lay-off language.

On September 16th at 12:00 p.m., your Provincial Bargaining Committee told the CTA and the Crown to start addressing the issues and were told to go away and come back when a mandate to bargain was obtained.  Although your Provincial Bargaining Committee sent a strong message across the table, the CTA and the Crown want to continue to bargain.

Your Provincial Bargaining Committee will be bargaining again on September 26th, 27th and 28th.  If there is no agreement by midnight on September 28th WE WILL move into Phase Two of Work to Rule.  If we get to an impasse, we will set a date for strike but will continue to bargain. In this round of bargaining we are looking for improvement to all language across the province. In this round of bargaining we are also looking to preserve the last 40 years of gains which we have achieved as the CTA and the Crown try to remove these gains with the stroke of a pen.  We will be providing wristbands to be worn at work to show solidarity for your Bargaining Committees (Provincial and Local).  Flyers and leaflets are being made so we can set up information pickets to hand out to parents and MPP offices explaining our issues. CUPE National has set up a Strike Headquarters/Command Post at the Ontario Regional Office in the event that we move into Phase Three and/or Phase Four of our job action (rotating strikes and/or provincial wide walkouts).

With all of that being said…Many of you may be wondering why we are taking strike action now in the form of Work to Rule and why we may be taking further action, up to and including full scale walkouts.  In recent communications, we have done our best to keep every one informed of the progress of Central Bargaining and the ramifications of what the employers have on the table, but there still seems to be many people who don’t quite understand what we are all facing.

This round of Central Bargaining has been anything but bargaining.  The CTA, whom we are directly bargaining with, has tried to force down our throats a package of proposals that would strip away decades of hard won rights.  All the while, offering NOTHING in return.  Lets put money aside for the moment, we all know that raises are not on the table.  The CTA has proposed a whole host of take-aways.  Job security, lay-off protection, and contracting out protection are all under attack.  These are the only protections that stop our employer from contracting out of work.  And to be very clear…if we lose these protections, all the liberal government has to do is cut funding for caretaking services and our employer will have no choice but to contract out, and will have the unfettered right to do so.  Even an employer like ours, who has never gave us any indication that they have contemplated such a move, will have no choice but to do so.

So why is it so important to fight now?  Quite frankly, if we don’t fight and win this battle now, many of us may not have jobs to fight for in the next round of bargaining.  This is what is at stake.  It’s your job! It’s your future! And, it’s YOUR fight!

In Solidarity,
John Tompa