By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Ontario students have only been back in class for one week, but the threat of a school employee strike is already looming.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has moved forward towards a possible strike or other job action by the week of Sept. 23.
CUPE, which represents approximately 55,000 school employees across the province, has requested a “no board” report through a mediator assigned to oversee negotiations between the union and school boards.
Laura Walton, president of the education council of CUPE, says the move is meant to advance bargaining discussions with the school boards forward.
However, negotiations are scheduled to continue on Sept. 16 and Sept. 17.
CUPE represents workers such as educational assistants, custodians, early childhood educators, library and administrative staff, social, child and youth workers, and IT employees.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says he is “disappointed” in CUPE’s action, but is pleased the two sides have agreed to appoint Bill Kaplan as a mediator.
“Mr. Kaplan is a highly respected, senior labour mediator. I believe with the assistance of Mr. Kaplan, we can resolve our differences at the bargaining table so that students can remain in the class where they belong,” Lecce said in a statement. “My team is ready to continue meeting to negotiate a deal that puts our students first, and provides the predictability our parents deserve.”
As far as teachers, the majority of major educators unions currently have no agreements in place, as they expired Aug. 31.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association are continuing negotiations.