TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 18, 2012) - Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario walked the line in solidarity with elementary teachers today outside the Toronto District School Board headquarters at 5050 Yonge Street.
"We stand united in our defense of democratic rights," said Hahn, "Bill 115 is an undemocratic law that also affects members across the province. We are calling on MPPs from all parties to commit to repealing Bill 115 and to abandon any plans for other legislation that threatens our democratic rights to free collective bargaining and impartial arbitration for essential workers."
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 Hahn. "Support staff and teachers alike 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."
CUPE represents 55,000 support workers in public, Catholic, French and English boards across the province. These workers are the educational assistants, school secretaries, instructors, early childhood educators, community advisory staff, food service workers, library technicians, custodians and others who are the backbone of our education system.