April 10, 2015
Strike Vote Results – an overwhelming mandate
The last of our strike votes were held on March 31st, and as you may know by now, the results of the central vote tally are a resounding 93 per cent in favour of taking job action if necessary. (This percentage reflects the number of our members who voted yes out of the total votes cast across the province).
Thanks to all locals and staff for organizing your votes so quickly and efficiently in March. You were very nimble, which bodes well for all the mobilizing we will need to do to get a fair deal. Many of you have said your members turned out in record numbers to vote, and the pictures on your Facebook pages tell an amazing story of solidarity, and of your commitment to protect our jobs, the services we provide, and our contracts.108 bargaining units across the province participated in the vote, and an additional local will be voting April 19th. Locals who are contacted by media about their local results should feel free to release that local number (as a percentage) if you wish.
Case management hearing at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)
On April 1st, we had a case management meeting at the OLRB. The process established by legislation has a dispute resolution mechanism in the event that the parties cannot agree on what should be bargained centrally vs. locally. We’ve had to invoke that mechanism as we’ve had so little cooperation from the employer side in establishing the list for central bargaining.
At the April 1st meeting, it was clear the chair of the OLRB understood our issues. We were hoping to reach agreement that most of the outstanding items can be captured under existing items we’ve already agreed to. However, the employer side barely moved, and so the case management meeting did not yield results. We will go to a formal hearing in June.
Please note: despite the June hearing dates, there is nothing stopping the parties from meeting between now and then to reach agreement on the central list and get down to bargaining (this happened with OSSTF after their hearing dates were set – they were able to reach agreement on the central list before the matter got to hearing). The chair of the OLRB has suggested this, and we will communicate our willingness to meet. We hope that the overwhelming strike mandate you have given us will help the employer side focus on the need to start bargaining seriously.
Our final briefs for the dispute resolution hearing will be submitted by April 16th. The management team and province will have an opportunity to respond by April 30th, and then we will go to hearings in June. We’ve currently scheduled three dates: June 8th, June 10th, and June 23rd.
Other bargaining tables
OSSTF has set deadlines around the end of April for seven boards across the province. These strike deadlines are related to local bargaining for teachers. The OSSTF locals who will be in a strike position are with the following school boards: Durham, Halton, Ottawa-Carleton, Peel, Sudbury (Rainbow), Thunder Bay (Lakehead), and Waterloo. OSSTF’s support staff table has just had a first day of bargaining on April 8th. The ETFO teacher table has filed for conciliation and expects to be in a legal strike position at the beginning of May. OECTA is conducting strike votes now.
What comes next
This is not down time for us. It is more important than ever to keep members mobilized now. With the strike votes done, this is the opportunity to ensure that all locals’ strike committees are robust and active. Please ensure that you have up-to-date phone and email information for all your members.
We are also asking all locals to work hard at the local level to fight school closures (watch for notices in your local papers about public consultations and participate), maintain your alliances with community groups, expose the flaws in the funding formula, and advocate alongside parents who are fighting for supports for kids with special needs. Members need to be engaged and informed; trustees need to be held to account as they balance their budgets. These are ultimately some of the best tools we have in protecting our jobs and the services we provide.
Please also check us out at:
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CUPEeducationworkers
• Twitter: @osbcc