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OPSEU leadership commit to total support for education workers

Toronto – OPSEU’s leadership says the contempt that the Ford government and school boards are showing for education workers is not going to be tolerated.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says these dedicated workers are essential to Ontario and yet they are among some of the lowest paid public service employees in the province.

“The recent passage of Bill 124 caps wage increases at one per cent in each of the first three years of a collective agreement,” said Thomas. “This is a blatant violation of members’ constitutional right to free and fair collective bargaining.”

“My message to the Ford government is: Better round up some more of your Bay Street lawyers, because we’ll be seeing you in court.”

The Ontario Council of Education Workers (OCEW), of which OPSEU is a member, held bargaining on November 14, 26 and 27.

The parties will be meeting with a Conciliation Officer on December 10th and bargaining will continue on December 10, 16 and 17.

The OCEW received an overwhelming strike mandate of 96 per cent in November and OCEW affiliates unanimously endorsed the strike mandate received from the membership.

These workers, says OPSEU First Vice President/Treasurer, Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, also face many health and safety issues and unfortunately many incidents of workplace violence go unreported.

“The Ford government’s move to increase class size is a recipe for disaster and will only increase the health and safety concerns and the number of violent incidents in the classroom, as well as jeopardizing the well-being of OCEW members,” said Almeida.

“We will put whatever resources are necessary into standing up to the government and these school districts and getting a fair deal for our members.”

The OCEW represents many front line workers including educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, adult education specialists, clerical workers and IT professionals, and various skilled trades people. OPSEU recently affiliated with the Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel (ERFP), which is part of the OCEW.

The school districts in which OPSEU represents education workers include the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Simcoe County District School Board, Ottawa Catholic School Board, York Region District School Board, Rainbow District School Board, Moosonee District School Area Board and the Kenora Catholic District School Board.