CUPE President Laura Walton Not Happy With the Deal

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the federal government has finally reached a tentative deal but union members are not happy with it. President of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), Laura Walton said she does not like this deal as a mother or as a worker.

Education workers were expected to go on strike on Monday, November 21, 2022, but it was called off on Sunday as a tentative deal was reached between the CUPE and the government. However, Laura Walton expressed they had to accept the deal begrudgingly. She said the government was not willing to budge on some of the other demands put on the table.

“As a mom, I don’t like this deal. As a worker, I don’t like this deal. As the president of the OSBCU, I understand why this is the deal that’s on the table. I think it falls short and I think it’s terrible that we live in a world that doesn’t see the need to provide services to kids that they need,” Walton said. She went on to say, “But we will always put workers first, we will always put our students first and that’s why there will not be a strike tomorrow. That’s why we’re taking [the deal] to the workers and that’s why we hope to have the ratification vote completed by [this coming] Sunday.”

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Walton was asked if she thought it was her responsibility to bring the best possible deal to the union members. She replied that when the government won’t budge, “then you have to do the right thing as a leader, which often is very uncomfortable, and you need to bring it forth to the workers to use their voice.”

CUPE and the government agreed on a $1-per-hour raise each year, or about 3.59 percent annually, over the course of four years. But, In addition, CUPE asked for $100 million in guarantees of higher staffing levels for educational assistants, custodians, secretaries, and librarians. They also want early a childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom. The deal does not guarantee these demands will be met.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce spoke to reporters on Sunday and said it’s not about who wins but about the kids who will now be in class on Monday. “All parties, the government, union, trustees, all parties leave this tentative agreement with positive outcomes for what we were trying to advance. I think all parties have been able to receive some incremental wins,” he said.

Vineet Washington

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