ONTARIO – It’s official, thousands of education workers represented by CUPE are on strike! Workers are out picketing today, calling for new contracts and fair wages. Many of those represented by CUPE have taken to social media to voice their upset, sharing that their average salary is about $39,000 annually, forcing them to use resources like food banks and clothing donations to survive.
But this movement is unlike the strikes we’ve seen in the past. Thanks to new legislation, this strike is considered illegal, and picketers could be facing fines of $4,000 a day. Meantime, the union itself could also be slapped with thousands of dollars in fines.
What is Bill 28?
Last night, new legislation known as Bill 28 was passed, making it illegal for 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) to strike. Sparks flew during debates between the Ford government and the official opposition, with over a dozen NDP MPPs ejected from the legislature for calling Ford and Lecce liars during the Question Period.
“When will the premier and his ministers stop lying about the damage they are doing to the education system?” Interim Leader of the NDP Peter Tabuns asked.
When asked to withdraw his comment, Tabuns refused and was escorted out of the chambers.
Other NDP MPPs soon followed.
But many people have questions about the premier’s whereabouts as, during the vote, Premier Doug Ford was nowhere to be found. This comes at the same time as Ford has been accused of running from testifying in the ongoing Emergencies Act Inquiry.
CUPE Striking Regardless of Bill 28
Despite the new legislation, CUPE assured the public that its members would be walking out on Friday, and walk out they did! Education workers across the province have already gone against the government and are picketing outside of government offices across Ontario today, including Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto.
“If this government had spent as much time at the bargaining table, and working as hard there as they have been at crafting a bill that was obviously already in place when bargaining began, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” said Laura Walton, President of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, on Thursday.
“To hear today that the minister is concerned about people not being able to eat, children not being able to eat is a smack in the face to the quarter of my members that are already at food banks because they cannot afford to live in this province and do the work they love,” Walton continued.
Walton also didn’t seem overly concerned about potential fines.
“The fines will come, and we will look after it. But how ridiculous is it that this minister is concerned about pulling more money from people who are impoverished, instead of just sitting down and listening to what they need?” Walton asked when questioned about how the union will handle fines.
The News You Can Use Team will continue to follow this story as it develops. Let us know in the comments, how do you feel about Bill 28?