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OPSEU members join other education workers in giving overwhelming strike mandate

Toronto – OPSEU members have joined workers from other unions in giving an overwhelming strike mandate to support collective bargaining efforts aimed at fighting cutbacks and preserving quality education.

The Ontario Council of Educational Workers (OCEW), which OPSEU is a member of, has conducted strike votes in the past few weeks.

Workers voted 96 per cent in favour of authorizing the OCEW to call a central issues strike if necessary to reach a fair collective agreement that deals with issues like wages and benefits.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the results show education workers are serious and united about getting a collective agreement that will allow them to support Ontario children.

“I hope the premier and the education minister are taking note of the message that their frontline workers are sending about how serious they are about the future of Ontario’s youth.”

“This round of bargaining is much more than about fair wages and benefits for the employees, it’s also about protecting our children’s education from poorly thought out government cutbacks.”

The education workers OPSEU represents work at eight school boards across Ontario.

They include educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, adult education specialists, clerical workers and IT professionals.

They play a huge role in supporting young learners and students with special needs – young people who often need very specific supports to protect themselves and the people around them.

The OCEW and the employer met on Thursday and will return to the table Nov. 26.

OPSEU First Vice-President Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida points out that educational support workers are already among some of the lowest paid public service employees in the province with an estimated professional income ceiling of around $40,000.

“How can these folks do their best work when they’re constantly worried about how to make their ends meet? Almeida asked.

“They give so much of themselves to our youth and now thanks to the government’s Bill 124 they face a cap on wage increases that won’t even let them keep pace with inflation.  How is that fair?”

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

Backgrounder: OPSEU represents educational assistants, adult education specialists, clerical workers, and IT professionals across the province.

*OPSEU represents the following school boards:

  • Local 283 (Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board),
  • Local 292 (Peel District School Board),
  • Local 330 (Simcoe County District School Board),
  • Local 423 (Ottawa Catholic School Board),
  • Local 514 (York Region District School Board),
  • Local 614 (Rainbow District School Board),
  • Local 663 (Moosonee District School Area Board), and
  • Local 742 (Kenora Catholic District School Board).

-The Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel are also part of the OCEW.  OPSEU and ERFP entered into an  affiliation agreement in May 2019.