The province is offering school support staff earning less than $40,000 a year a pay raise of 2 percent a year for four years, and everyone else a 1.25 a year raise.
In the negotiating documents made public By the CUPE school boards bargaining unit, the government’s opening offer also includes some changes to short-term disability coverage, while maintaining 11 fully paid sick days.
CUPE’s Council of Unions of Ontario School Boards represents 55,000 caregivers, administrative staff, educational assistants and early childhood educators on boards across the province.
The government’s offer is in response to CUPE’s, published last week, which includes a salary increase of $3.25 per hour for all members, approximately 11.7 percent per year, as well as proposals to eliminate salary tables. and put all workers at the highest wage rate. and have an early childhood educator in all kindergarten classrooms, regardless of the number of students.
CUPE workers suffered wage freezes in recent years and fell under the provincial government’s wage cap legislation that limited wage increases to one percent per year. Its members are often the lowest-paid staff on the school board, though some positions are part-time and work multiple jobs to make ends meet, the union said.
The government document says that in total, the CUPE proposals would cost more than $4 billion over three years.
“The Crown and (the trustee associations) are fully committed to ensuring that all students return to the classroom on time this fall and stay in the classroom, with the full school experience they deserve,” the document says.
“…The Crown values the contributions education workers make in schools and wants to reach a fair deal that recognizes their important role in our publicly funded education system.
“CUPE/OSBCU average wages of $26.69 per hour for all staff and $27.87 per hour for permanent staff, plus $5,655.45 per FTE (full-time employee) for benefits is a fair and competitive compensation rate. Salary proposals of up to 8.24 percent, including capitalization, will continue to keep CUPE/OSBCU salaries competitive.”
It also says CUPE’s proposal “includes substantial cost increases across a wide range of issues and is not fiscally sustainable,” saying the compensation increase would be around 52 percent, and if its demands extend to other education unions, it would mean $21.8 billion. to the education budget in total over the next three years.
School boards are looking to address sick leave costs as well as greater flexibility when it comes to staffing.
CUPE’s school board bargaining unit set August 22 as the date to meet to discuss approving a strike vote, which would give it leverage in negotiations and the first step among many toward an actual strike.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce called the move “regrettable.”
Laura Walton, president of the union council, told the Star that “frontline education workers will not hold a strike vote on August 22. Ontario students, families and each other, so we’re meeting to discuss what our response might be if the Ford government continues to delay signing an agreement until the fall.”
Walton has also said that “students and workers deserve better than the crumbs this government throws at us, so my co-workers and I are willing to fight for what students need in the classroom and what we need to do our job even better.”
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