Ontario’s education support workers will have until early December to decide whether or not to accept a new contract with the provincial government.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said its approximately 55,000 members will vote online to ratify the tentative agreement starting November 24.
They will have until December 5 to make their choice and the results will be published on December 6.
“To allow members time to review and process the details of this tentative agreement, we will not comment further until the results of the ratification vote are released,” the union said.
The union had previously said the vote would be complete by this weekend. It is not clear why the deadline was changed.
A tentative agreement was reached Sunday night between the union and the Ontario government, a decision that averted a province-wide strike scheduled for the next day.
CUPE has said the agreement provides a $1 flat-rate hourly wage increase for all workers, which would equate to an average annual increase of about 3.59 percent.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce went further, saying the deal provides the union’s lowest-paid members with a “significant pay increase” of around 4.2 percent a year.
“It’s a significant increase from where we started and it’s what we set out to do, help the lowest paid workers, but all workers benefit from this deal and, frankly, all families and taxpayers benefit from having stability for children.” he said Monday. .
In a letter to membersThe union said the bargaining committee also secured reimbursement for the two days the workers participated in a political protest due to Bill 28, legislation that not only required workers to have a contract but also made it illegal for them to strike.
“This is a particularly fitting achievement, recognizing that he shouldn’t have had to do that just to keep the charter bargaining rights he always had,” union president Mark Hancock said.
Bill 28 was rescinded after the two-day protest in exchange for CUPE returning to the negotiating table.
The government is labeling the deal a “win, win, win”; however, Laura Walton, chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board of Unions Council (OSBCU), disagrees.
Speaking to reporters after the tentative deal was announced, Walton said the decision to present the deal to members was made after it became clear the government was not going to move further.
She said that while the salary offer was higher than previously required by the government, there was still no new money for more services or staff.
“Basically, what this government has told us is that they are not willing to give up any more. We are bringing our members to vote,” he said, adding that he did not like the deal.
“I think it falls short.”
If CUPE members choose not to ratify the agreement, both parties will have to return to the negotiating table.