Dealing with CUPE staff influences all other contracts, says Stephen Lecce

CUPE’s salary and other bargaining proposals are costly and would not be fair to taxpayers, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, Lecce said the demands that have been brought by the union representing school support staff are “astronomical, unreasonable and not consistent with who pays the bill, which is the taxpayer”.

He said the wage increase that CUPE has proposed ($3.25 an hour for all workers, or about 11.7 percent a year) plus an end to wage tables, putting all workers at the lowest wage rate High, among other requests, is similar to a 50 percent increase.

The province, which had frozen public sector wages at one percent a year, has offered CUPE workers earning less than $40,000 a two percent raise each year for four years, and those above $40,000 a raise. 1.25 percent per annum.

CUPE workers are the lowest-paid school board employees, earning an average of $39,000 a year, though that figure includes part-time workers. They are trying to make up for lost ground in earnings as well as address current inflation.

“What we do with CUPE, what we sign with CUPE, becomes the floor for all other negotiations on education,” Lecce said, calling the union’s petition “massive” and, if applied to all other unions in education, could cost the province $21 billion.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Union Council, which represents 55,000 custodians, school office staff, lunchroom supervisors, early childhood educators and educational assistants, said it was “bummed out” by that offer, noting that the province also wants to reduce some short-term sick leave. Benefits.

“The proposal of only $800 on average per year, in the face of skyrocketing inflation, will not pay rent, put food on the table, or address the staffing issues that abound in our schools.” President Laura Walton has said.

“…What is really concerning is that, you know, this is the government that talks about better jobs and higher wages. I’m not sure if $800 in the face of rising inflation can be considered a bigger paycheck. It will be completely swallowed. And in fact, given inflation as it is, this is actually a pay cut for these education workers.”

Lecce said the province is protecting “very generous pensions, very generous benefits, sick leave and long-term disability.”

CUPE workers, like teachers, are entitled to 11 sick days at full salary and 120 days of temporary disability at 90 percent of salary.

“It’s interesting because with CUPE sitting at the table before us, we could get a glimpse of the future,” said Karen Littlewood, president of the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Teachers.

“But (the salary offer) certainly does not reflect the words of the prime minister or the education minister, saying that we are going to be respectful and make sure that we are supporting public education. In reality, he is not showing any kind of respect to the lowest-paid workers who keep the education system going.”

Lecce have said they want a normal start to the school year, with extracurricular sports and clubs.

While such activities are voluntary, the unions say no labor action is being worked on and members are free to pursue them.

Kristin Rushowy is a reporter from Toronto who covers Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy


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