HAMILTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2012) - A rally in front of Hamilton's City Hall this morning drew members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who were joined by members of other trade unions and community coalition partners to voice their opposition to Bill 115.
"Bill 115 strips away education workers' democratic collective bargaining rights," said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. "We want the government to repeal it. We're calling on them to not use the powers it provides them to order collective agreements. They should stop picking a fight with us and focus on real bargaining."
The Liberal government, with the help of the Conservatives, passed Bill 115, legislation which would allow the Minister of Education to override collective bargaining December 31 by imposing contracts on school boards, effectively taking away workers' democratic rights to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. Contracts negotiated before the deadline still must receive approval by the Minister under the new law.
"Bill 115 and its December 31 deadline are unfair and have created an unnecessary crisis in our schools," said Linda Durkin, President of CUPE Local 3396, representing support workers in the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board. "School board support workers, like social workers, speech pathologists, educational assistants, secretaries, early childhood educators, library techs, custodians, and other support staff, are the backbone of our schools and we deserve to be treated fairly."
CUPE, which represents 55,000 school board workers covered by 114 collective agreements, has been campaigning for months against this legislation.
The Liberal government has also threatened to introduce similar legislation, affecting more than 500,000 workers across the rest to the public sector, including health care workers who do not have the legal right to strike.
"These bills override democratic rights to collectively bargain contracts by limiting what bargaining looks like and giving the province the ability to impose a contract whenever it wants. For those workers who are not permitted to strike, such as healthcare workers or paramedics, it would also remove their right to impartial third-party arbitration to resolve differences with their employers," said Hahn. "A bargained solution is a much better result for all parties than one which is shoved down their throats."