CUPE education workers trigger countdown for potential legal strike

Some 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are expected to be in a legal position to strike later this month.

The union announced Thursday afternoon that it will request a “no-board” notice, which starts a 17-day countdown to possible job action across Ontario for public, Catholic, French and English school boards.

CUPE expects the period to last until the week of September 23, at which point union members will be able to lawfully begin job action.

“We will always ensure that we are giving parents proper notice,” said Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which is a chartered body within CUPE.

“We have the best intentions, and we do not want to be heading towards withdrawal of services.”

In a previous announcement, the union suggested that job action could take the form of work-to-rule, rotating strikes, or a full strike.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in a statement that he is” disappointed that CUPE has decided to take this action.

“We continue to call on all parties to reach a deal in good faith, as soon as possible, to provide confidence and predictability to parents, students, and educators alike.”

CUPE represents workers in the following areas:

  • Education assistants
  • Custodians
  • Maintenance workers
  • School secretaries
  • Psychologists
  • Child and youth workers
  • Social workers
  • Some instructors, including the subjects of music, arts and languages

CUPE is demanding a better deal for its members, who earn an average of $38,000 per year, according to the union.

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