Toronto

CUPE education workers threaten 'disruptive' work-to-rule campaign

The chances are "very high" that 55,000 employees of Ontario schools will work-to-rule starting next Monday, according to a union leader representing them.

Union leader decries disconnect between Ontario government's words and position at bargaining table

Education workers in Ontario, who perform roles like keeping public schools clean, could soon be working-to-rule, their union says. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The chances are "very high" that 55,000 employees of Ontario schools will work-to-rule starting next Monday, according to a union leader representing them.

Laura Walton, the president of CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning that the move would disrupt things like cleaning operations at some schools. 

"I think it's fairly disruptive," Walton said Tuesday.

CUPE is set to provide formal notice of the job action on Wednesday.

Among the thousands CUPE represents are custodians, administrative assistants and early childhood educators. Last week, those workers voted 93 per cent in favour of a potential strike as negotiations on a new contract continue with the Ontario government.

CUPE is just one of the unions locked in talks with Doug Ford's PC government. So far, none have been able to reach a deal, raising the concern of a widespread school strike that could happen this fall.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce issued a statement Tuesday re-iterating his position that the government is committed to reaching a deal.

"We look forward to continuing our work with all our labour partners to provide the predictability and stability that parents expect, and students deserve," he said in an email

However, Walton said there's a "big disconnect" between Lecce's words and what CUPE is seeing at the bargaining table. She said the concessions being asked of the union would be detrimental to the public education system.

"This is something worth fighting for," she said.

Walton also rejected the idea that education workers should prepare themselves for less as the Ontario government tries to reduce its deficit.

"People who make an average of $38,000 a year didn't cause the deficit," Walton said, referencing the average annual wage CUPE workers make.  

You can listen to Walton's full interview in the player below:

Laura Walton, president of CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions, says her union can and probably will announce job action to start next Monday. "People who make an average of $38,000 a year did not cause the deficit", she says of her members. 10:14

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