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Thomas to Ford: Don’t take education workers for granted

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Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is warning Premier Doug Ford to stop taking the welfare of Ontario’s children for granted. Members of OPSEU’s education workers sector, including the Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel that affiliated with OPSEU earlier this year, are in the midst of holding strike votes. They work at eight school boards across Ontario.*

So far the locals that have held strike votes have seen a large member turnout.  A number of other votes are being held later this month.

“We are very confident that we will receive high strike mandates from our locals,” said Thomas. “Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce should be paying close attention to these results and have no doubt about the resolve of our members to fight for their dignity and for the health and safety of our students.”

The members that OPSEU represents 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. Thomas 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.

“Many of our members are struggling to make ends meet and all they get is a slap in the face from a government that brought in Bill 124 imposing a one per cent wage cap on public sector pay hikes,” said Thomas.

Thomas said the Ford government must start recognizing the absolute necessity of these frontline workers in the education of our young people.

“Front line education workers may not be CEOs but in many regards they have a more important role than many of this country’s top-earners,” he said. “They are educational support experts who look out for our children!” It’s time for the Ford government to recognize this fact and resolve the issues at the bargaining table for the benefit of Ontario’s children.”

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

Backgrounder:

The Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel (ERFP) represents educational assistants and designated early childhood educators in the Peel District School Board. 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).