Educational support workers in Peel say Yes to OPSEU

Toronto – In an historic vote, more than 3,700 school workers in Mississauga and Brampton have said a resounding “Yes” to OPSEU, with 86 per cent in support of joining the most powerful public sector union in the province. The turnout for the vote was phenomenal, with 84 per cent of ERFP members participating in the vote.

“This is great news for students and parents in Peel and all across Ontario,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “By joining forces, we’ll be able to fight even harder to ensure that our classrooms are as safe as possible when classes finally resume.  I have no doubt that even the small minority who voted status quo will have a change of heart when they see OPSEU in action as their union. I’ve said this many times and I believe it from the bottom of my heart: OPSEU is a machine – a strong, talented and diverse organization and when we work together, nothing can stop us.  I very much look forward to all of ERFP getting their first taste of that experience.”

Thomas said he is pleased to see ERFP members gave a strong endorsement of OPSEU’s track record both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of OPSEU’s 165,000 members, our Executive Board, members of our Education Sectors, and our staff, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the newest members of our family,” said Thomas. “It speaks volumes about our relationship and OPSEU’s reputation that ERFP members chose to trust our union during this pandemic.  OPSEU is a powerhouse and a home. Welcome home.”

The Peel-area workers, Educational Assistants and Designated Early Childhood Educators, voted between June 24 and 30 on whether to merge their union, the Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel (ERFP), with OPSEU.

“We are grateful to ERFP members for giving us this vote of confidence over the work we’ve done in protecting both jobs and the health and safety of front-line public sector workers during the pandemic,” said Thomas. “We look forward to representing you and we won’t let you down.

The two unions are no strangers to each other. They affiliated in May 2019, and over the past year have worked closely together at the bargaining table and on a number of campaigns, including violence in the classroom and the “Red for Ed” solidarity campaign.

To help support ERFP, OPSEU has facilitated extensive outreach including a number of information sessions and telephone town halls. In addition to filing its own, OPSEU, on behalf of ERFP, also filed a Charter challenge against the Ford government’s Bill 124, which effectively cuts the wages of public sector workers.

“The pandemic has shown us how important front-line workers are, and our new educational support members are on the front-lines in our schools,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Whether they’re full-time, part-time or casual, each and every one of them play a vital role in our education system.

“They deserve recognition for their contribution to our schools and being a powerful voice in education,” said Almeida. “By joining us in OPSEU, our combined voices are so much stronger.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

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