Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 8, 2019
Ford government dodges CUPE strike but more education labour woes ahead
After narrowly averting a massive strike by 55,000 educational support workers, Premier Doug Ford’s government will now turn full attention to teacher negotiations.
Talks between the province and several unions are ongoing.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), l’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) represent over 160,000 teachers currently without a deal.
ETFO is currently in the process of gauging whether or not an appetite exists for job action. The union is taking strike votes with members across the province. If a majority approves, 78,000 teachers, occasional teachers and other education professionals could be in a legal potential strike position as early as November.
Laura Walton, who headed up CUPE talks with the province, said after their deal was brokered Sunday that the union stands in solidarity with ETFO and other labour groups.
Walton also indicated CUPE made few concessions in bargaining.
The deal still needs to be ratified by members, a process which could take a month. However Walton’s message to Education Minister Stephen Lecce was clear Sunday.
“Thanks for opening the piggybank and allowing us to get the services that we needed for our students, they’ll thank you too.”
Lecce responded to Walton’s statement Monday.
“I think what we have done is we’ve opened up classrooms in Ontario and I think that’s the focus and I think we’ve done so within our mandate to be fair,” he said on Global News Morning. “I think that all parties in the province of Ontario could leave this negotiation with a sense of incremental achievement on their priorities.“
Sources with knowledge of the negations told Global News the government essentially “caved to political pressure.”
The deal happened amid a federal election where Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has been seen as distancing himself from Ford due to the premier’s low approval ratings. (Global News)