Thanks to the widespread and focused pressure of Ontario’s labour movement, and with the overwhelming support of workers, families, and communities, the Ford government has been forced to withdraw its draconian anti-union legislation, cynically named the Keeping Students in Class Act. The members of CUPE-OSBCU, the public, and organized labour successfully joined forces to decry the Ford government’s use of the notwithstanding clause, which would have removed the constitutional rights of thousands of education workers and imposed a contract on them. But the fight does not end here. This government continues to undermine the rights of workers and to underfund our most important public services and resources.
As a result of the promised repealing of the Act in its entirety, including the use of the notwithstanding clause, CUPE has agreed to return to work as of Tuesday, November 8, 2022. In order to provide some relief to CUPE members in financial difficulty, the Provincial Executive has passed a motion to donate $150,000 to CUPE-OSBCU. CUPE remains committed to bargaining for their members and have voiced their gratitude to all labour movement members, including OSSTF/FEESO, for their ongoing support and solidarity.
Because of these recent events, we are cancelling our town hall meetings for tonight (Monday). We are planning to hold a telephone town hall meeting(s) sometime this week where leadership will provide an update on Bill 28, labour solidarity and OSSTF/FEESO’s collective bargaining.
We will send out details regarding the date, time, and call-in information for the town hall(s) as soon as they are available.
The town hall meetings were originally scheduled to specifically address our support strategies for CUPE-OSBCU and the ongoing larger union fight against Bill 28. This included plans for a mass labour rally at Queen’s Park on Saturday, November 12, and a province-wide political protest on Monday, November 14 organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). OSSTF/FEESO was preparing to seek the will of the membership through a vote on participating in the province-wide political protest. With the government’s pending repeal of the Act and the return to bargaining for CUPE-OSBCU and the government, the OFL has cancelled these two specific actions. OSSTF/FEESO members are still encouraged to show solidarity and support for CUPE-OSBCU as they return to the bargaining table to get a fair and freely negotiated agreement.
While OSSTF/FEESO continues to bargain on behalf of our over 60,000 Members, we are also maintaining political pressure on the Ford government to reach fair deals with all Ontario education workers and teachers. We thank all of our Members for their solidarity and support in standing up against Bill 28. The power of a united labour movement continues to be the best protection for school-board sector bargaining and of workers’ rights in Ontario and beyond.