Stop the delay tactics, be transparent and set a date and time to meet with CUPE-OSBCU bargaining team before the end of this month.
On Friday, June 17, your CUPE-Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) bargaining team met across the table from the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA), representing your employers, and the Ministry of Education, representing the provincial government.
OSBCU 2022 Bargaining Update #1
On Friday, June 17, your CUPE-Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) bargaining team met across the table from the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA), representing your employers, and the Ministry of Education, representing the provincial government. This meeting happened in Toronto and it was in-person.
Just getting this meeting to take place was a small victory for you and your coworkers. On June 3 – the earliest date it was possible to do so – your team served notice to bargain. In accordance with the School Board Collective Bargaining Act, the government and school boards’ trustees were required to meet with your elected bargaining committee within 15 days. The government tried to delay this meeting, inaccurately citing the recent provincial election which is not a legitimate reason to break the law.
What was discussed
Friday’s meeting lasted five hours and was focused on reaching an agreement about the scope of central bargaining. Every school board collective agreement has two components: one, central, that applies to everyone (all school boards and CUPE education workers) and another, local, that applies just to your bargaining unit and school board. The law requires the central parties meet and determine what topics are negotiated centrally. Most monetary issues are bargained centrally.
Ground rules for this round of bargaining were the other main point of discussion.
Because all of us who work to make this province’s schools run day in and day out are eager to reach a fair collective agreement that improves the quality of education and pays working people what we’re worth as soon as possible, your bargaining team proposed substantively the same central scope as we did in 2019 and 2014 – the same division of issues (central or local) that the trustees and government accepted during the last two rounds of bargaining.
What your bosses and the government said
We thought it would be no-brainer for both parties – workers representatives and the bosses – to quickly accept the same central scope as last time. But something as simple as this became another opportunity for the provincial government to delay.
They figure that they can prolong the start of discussions about real issues that matter to you and kids’ caregivers even longer by dragging out today’s first meeting into a second unnecessary meeting weeks from now. (By the way, they haven’t even agreed to a next meeting date yet).
As for the ground rules, your bargaining team made it clear that workers will not accept a “media blackout.” Instead, those of us who are at the negotiating table on your behalf intend to be very open and transparent with the whole CUPE-OSBCU membership.
A blackout on communications while bargaining is ongoing is a tactic that disproportionately benefits the employer/government side. From their perspective, the more secretive that negotiations are, the easier it is for them to say one thing to your elected bargaining team while a government spokesperson – like the minister of education did in 2019 – calls a press conference to say something very different that sounds much nicer to the public.
Just like the hundreds of trustees and managers of the 63 local school boards expect to see the proposals their representatives will bring to the negotiating table, you deserve to see the proposals that your bargaining team puts forward. You’ll also get to be more connected with the work of your union representatives who are at the table when you get to read the details of the proposals that the other side will bring up.
Overall, the bosses’ negotiators said they wouldn’t agree to anything today. They’re still relying on some notion that they have to wait for a new provincial government cabinet to be sworn in. But the facts say otherwise. This page on Legislative Assembly of Ontario website clearly states: “Ministers keep their appointments until new ministers are appointed after the election.” Since the government hasn’t changed and every single one of the cabinet ministers was reelected, the idea that it’s unclear what direction this government wants to take is absurd.
Doug Ford’s newly reelected Progressive Conservative government has the power to reach a deal with you and get it done before school starts again this fall.
You have the power, as workers who are united and as caregivers and community members, to put pressure on your elected members of provincial parliament and the people they send to the bargaining table to negotiate.
Here’s what you can do
- Talk to your coworkers about the “Education Workers are Ready to Negotiate” majority photo petition. Ask your coworkers to commit to take action to win their demands and to add their photo as a symbol of their commitment to collective action.
- Join the parent outreach team your CUPE-OSBCU local representatives are organizing and hand out flyers to parents next week to let your community know that education workers are fighting for improvements to learning conditions at the bargaining table.
- Attend one of the 20+ education worker actions taking place on Thursday, June 23 to deliver the tens of thousands of letters that you and your coworkers have signed calling on Premier Ford to commit the funding necessary for publicly delivered education in Ontario, including real wage increases and increased staffing.
Let’s all – tens of thousands of us – send the same message to Doug Ford:
Stop the delay tactics, be transparent, and set a date and time to meet with my CUPE-OSBCU bargaining team before the end of this month.
Your OSBCU Central Bargaining Committee