Liberals’ refusal to honour deal with CUPE threatens Bill 122

Mary Unan —Today the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced that, because of the Liberal government’s failure to honour its year-old agreement with school support workers, the union cannot support the government’s Bill 122, the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act.CUPE also called on MPPs from all parties to withdraw their support for the bill.


Liz Sandals, Ontario Education Minister

CUPE National President Paul Moist joined Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, and Terri Preston, CUPE’s School Board Coordinating Committee Chair, at a news conference at Queen’s Park today to make the announcement.

“The Liberal government has said that Bill 122 will prevent the kind of chaos that took place in our schools under Bill 115,” said Hahn. “We are here today to say it won’t work because, for the past year, the government has refused to honour and enforce the agreement that it signed with CUPE last year under Bill 115. It has broken faith with school board support workers, the backbone of our schools.”

CUPE has 627,000 members and is Canada’s largest union. It successfully negotiates thousands of collective agreements every year and national President Moist expressed his disbelief at the situation in Ontario:

“We have never seen circumstances like this. Why is Ontario deficient in this respect? Why won’t the province live up to the deal it has signed? It seems to us to be a lack of government will.”

The government’s refusal to honour its agreement with CUPE has meant a year of disparity among school support workers employed by Ontario’s boards, said committee chair Terri Preston.

“The government is producing inequality in schools, the very opposite of what central agreements achieve,” she said. “Support workers doing the same jobs, working just down the road from one another but employed by different boards, are receiving differential treatment. That makes no sense, it’s not fair and that should never happen under the agreement we bargained.”

CUPE also called on MPPs from all parties to withdraw their support for Bill 122 until the government has lived up to the deal it bargained last year. Only once that had happened, said the union, would it support entering into discussions about amendments to the Bill.

Hahn concluded: “For us, it is a matter of common sense. We say it’s time for the government to put first things first and finish what they started. Prove you can live up to the deal you’ve signed before you try to negotiate more. Otherwise, why would anyone support this Bill?”

CUPE represents 55,000 support workers in public, Catholic, French and English school boards across the province. These workers are the educational assistants, school secretaries, instructors, early childhood educators, community advisory staff, food services workers, library technicians, custodians and others who the backbone of our education system.