Students are back in school today as the Ontario government and over 55,000 education workers have reached a tentative deal, avoiding a strike.
Schools closed for two days in early November thanks to a strike action and members were prepared to do so again, with most school boards throughout the province prepared to have their doors closed in the midst of strike action.
Limestone District School Board said they were “delighted” to report schools would be open on Monday morning in a Sunday evening tweet, after previously saying it would be impossible to safely operate schools without the staff who would be striking as part of job action.
CUPE made the announcement officially early Sunday evening.
“The OSBCU Bargaining Team will be bringing a tentative agreement to the membership,” the bargaining team posted in a statement.
“There will be no job action tomorrow. Our members will be reporting to schools to continue supporting the students that we are proud to work with. Members should watch for more information regarding webinars and ratification vote details shortly. This fight has always been focused on the workers and it is important that workers have a voice on what has been presented.”
While the deal is not ratified until a member vote, OBSCU’s willingness to accept any tentative deal could be seen as a significant step from where the two sides stood last week.
With that said, CUPE-OBSCU President Laura Walton said in a press conference that the deal “falls short” and that the province still refused to increase supports for students, and many have speculated this deal will be turned down.
“The tentative agreement includes a flat-rate wage increase, instead of a percentage,” said Walton in a statement.
“This tentative agreement is nowhere near everything education workers and kids deserve, however it’s all this government is willing to give.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has followed through on its commitment “to do everything humanly possible to keep kids in class.”
While he wouldn’t confirm any details, Lecce said all parties leave the tentative agreement with “positive outcomes.”
“I think all parties have been able to receive some incremental wins,” Lecce said to reporters.
“This is not about unions winning or governments winning, it’s about our kids.”
Walton said the vote is expected to begin Thursday and to be completed some time over the weekend.