Education support workers to hold strike vote

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The union that represents 55,000 support workers in Ontario schools says its members will hold a strike vote next month.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the strike vote will be held from September 23 to October 2. The vote will determine whether members are willing to give their union a strike mandate. Those members include school maintenance staff, librarians, and early childhood educators. If they vote “yes” to a strike, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will walk off the job. There is still time for the union and the province to hold more negotiations.

CUPE is demanding wage increases of roughly 11.7 per cent in each year of an agreement, as well as all overtime being paid at a double-time rate, a minimum staffing standard, and an early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom. It also wants the elimination of wage grids and have all workers earn the top rate of pay.

The government has offered pay raises of two per cent per year for workers who make less than $40,000 per year and 1.25 per cent for all other employees who are CUPE members.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce recently told reporters that CUPE’s demands are “astronomical, unreasonable and not consistent with those footing the bill, which is the taxpayer.”

In a recent interview with Ottawa talk show host Sam Laprade, CUPE Ontario School Board Council of Unions President Laura Walton called the province’s offer a “slap in the face.”