CUPE Strike: What You Need to Know

By: Sonika Humar | Co-editor & Author

On October 30th, Parents and students received an email regarding the declaration of a strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in protest of the unlivable wages that the Progressive Conservative Government is currently giving Ontario education workers. CUPE announced that, due to the Government’s unwillingness to meet their demands, all union members will not be at work on Friday, November 4th. 

Due to the considerable number of vital employees in the Toronto District School Board that are part of CUPE, TDSB has no option but to close all schools on November 4th. 

What are CUPE’s Demands?

CUPE is asking the Government for an 11.7% annual salary increase, meaning that education workers would be making an extra $3.25 per hour.

CUPE is asking for this staggering increase because from 2012 to 2021, education workers’ wages increased by about 8.5%. However, inflation in Ontario rose by 17.8% over the same period. This means that education workers have taken a significant pay cut over the last decade.

Other proposals made by CUPE to the Government are:

  1. Overtime at two times the regular pay rate
  2. 30 minutes of paid prep time per day for education assistants and early child educators (ECEs)
  3. Increase in benefits and professional development for all workers

How is the Government Responding?

After negotiations, the Government’s final counter to the demand is offering a 2.5% annual raise for workers earning under $43,000 yearly and a 1.5% increase for everyone else. 

However, this is not enough to meet CUPE’s demands, so The Ministry of Education is introducing legislation entitled the Keeping Students In Class Act at Queen’s Park, which prohibits education workers from walking off the job. The Government’s strong pushback to the strike aims to prevent additional school disruptions on top of the one the COVID-19 pandemic already caused. CUPE stated that it would look for every avenue to fight this legislation. 

The Government is prepared to use the Notwithstanding Clause, which will override certain rights outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to avert any constitutional challenges to the new legislation. 

How Does The CUPE Strike Impact Forest Hill?

Along with school being cancelled on Friday, be prepared to hear about events being cancelled that usually occur before or after school. 

Potential/Confirmed Cancellations:

  1. The awards breakfast that was scheduled to happen on November 4th will be postponed to a later date
  2. Coffeehouse may be cancelled or postponed. However, it is currently on schedule to happen on the intended date. 
  3. Any events that require permits (events that occur past 5:00 pm at Forest Hill) have the potential to be cancelled.

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