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CUPE workers vote to ratify a bargaining agreement with the province

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ (CUPE), Ontario members, will remain working in schools. Recently, the union announced their members voted to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with the province of Ontario.

Of those who took part in the vote, CUPE’s Ontario division stated, 73 percent voted in favour of the deal.

“The tremendous engagement of members in the bargaining process is an unprecedented organizing achievement in our movement. The proof lies in the fact, nearly four times more members voted in this ratification than voted in 2019’s ratification ballot. Right to the end of the process, members have shown themselves to be committed, involved, and determined to have their voices heard,” read a statement from CUPE Ontario.

Voting on the Ontario government’s offer started in late November and ended on Sunday, December 4th. A tentative agreement had been reached on Sunday, November 20th, but it required ratification from union members to become official.

“This collective agreement is our first in 10 years, to be freely bargained instead of forced on us with legislative interference,” Laura Walton, CUPE’s president of the Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU), said in a press release. “It’s the product of democracy in action; workers having the freedom to negotiate and to withdraw our labour if necessary. For the last week and a half, 55,000 frontline education workers considered whether the tentative agreement, their bargaining committee negotiated, is acceptable; and the majority said ‘yes.’”

In an emailed statement, Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce reacted to the news of the ratification of this agreement. “Since negotiations began, we have been guided by the belief kids should be in class. We are so pleased we’ve been able to reach an agreement [which] has been overwhelmingly ratified by the members, which keeps kids in classrooms and preserves the learning experience, like clubs and extracurriculars.”

CUPE workers include secretaries, clerks, technicians, custodial and maintenance staff, and educational assistants.

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