CUPE and Province reach tentative deal

TORONTO – Schools across Ontario will remain open Monday as the provincial government has reached a tentative agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The union, which represents over 55,000 non-teaching education workers, was set to begin strike action Monday morning.

On Thursday, both the Upper Canada District School Board and Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario announced that if the strike action proceeded, schools in those boards would be closed.

Details of the contract remain confidential until the deal has been ratified by all parties.

Contract talks broke down last week, prompting CUPE to give notice Wednesday that it would strike Monday morning. While the two sides agreed on many points, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said that one of the few sticking points was the issue of short-term disability and sick days.

Negotiations restarted on the weekend between the union, provincial officials, and the Council of Trustee Associations, which represents the affected school boards.

“This deal was done because parents and students across Ontario said they supported us,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions. “We were able to get our eye on the prize of better services for students. The province met us in the middle in order get a deal.”

During a press conference after the announcement, Walton did say that funding for community use of schools would be returning. No other details were released.

“Throughout this process our goal has been to establish agreements that respect taxpayers, students and families, while also recognizing the important contributions of our front-line education workers,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement Sunday night. “Our government worked tirelessly at the bargaining table to achieve this goal and as a result, two million students will remain in the classroom where they belong.”

With strike action averted, the CUPE work-to-rule campaign also is on hold. This means that extra-curricular activities and school sports that had been postponed will resume. Games missed last week have not been rescheduled as of yet.

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