CUPE education workers ratify two-year contract extension
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TORONTO — Ontario school support staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have ratified a contract extension that gives them four per cent raises and gives the government a measure of labour peace.
The government agreed in the deal to invest $52 million in special education and $63 million in an "other staffing amount" for office, clerical, technical and custodial work. Ontario will also give $4.5 million to the school boards for apprenticeship and professional development opportunities.
The education workers ratified the deal that settles both central and local agreements until Aug. 31, 2019, extending their current contracts by two years, well past the 2018 election.
The Liberal government has reached tentative contract extension deals with all central education unions except for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, and CUPE is the first to ratify.
CUPE's raises — 1.5 per cent on Sept. 1, followed by one per cent increases on Sept. 1, 2018 and Feb. 1, 2019, a further half per cent on Aug. 31, 2019 and a lump sum payment of 0.5 per cent this year — mirror what's been offered to elementary teachers and reportedly French teachers and English Catholic teachers as well.
Since CUPE was the first to negotiate a tentative extension, their deal included a clause that if another education union bargained higher wage increases, CUPE workers would be entitled to those percentages.
Their benefits are also set to rise by four per cent each year of the deal.
CUPE represents 55,000 education staff across all school board systems, including educational assistants, early childhood educators, custodians, school administrators, IT clerks and library technicians.
"Our members have been very frustrated for some time that their wages have fallen behind in successive rounds of negotiations," Terri Preston, chair of CUPE's central bargaining committee, said in a statement.
"This extension agreement goes some way toward reinvesting back into the system and into the wages of the lowest paid workers in Ontario's education sector."