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CUPE-OSBCU Job Action – Information for Members of OSSTF/FEESO

Cupe Strike Support

On Thursday, November 3, talks broke off between the government, school boards, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario School Board Council of Unions (CUPE-OSBCU), representing 55,000 education workers across Ontario.

The Ford government introduced legislation on Monday, October 31, known as the Keeping Students in School Act. The government rushed passage of this Act through the legislature in advance of November 4.

The Act, which only affects members of CUPE-OSBCU, includes the following stipulations:

  • makes any job action by CUPE-OSBCU illegal;
  • imposes significant fines against individuals and the union if they take any job action;
  • imposes a contract on the members of CUPE-OSBCU, ending their negotiations process;
  • contains the notwithstanding clause, which would not allow for any kind of court challenge or judicial review of this Act; and
  • eliminates any other avenues to challenge this act, such as the Human Rights Tribunal or the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

CUPE-OSBCU leadership has made it clear that they will be on strike on Friday, November 4 if they have not reached a tentative agreement, regardless of whether their job action is legal or illegal. Many school boards that employ CUPE-OSBCU members have informed staff and parents about their plans if a strike by CUPE-OSBCU members occurs tomorrow.

OSSTF/FEESO teacher and education Members are NOT in a legal strike position and the Federation is continuing to negotiate at both the Education Worker Central Table and Teacher/Occasional Central Table.

Members of OSSTF/FEESO are encouraged to show their support for CUPE-OSBCU education workers.  Examples of how to show such support are set out below. However, OSSTF/FEESO Members must be aware of their obligations, especially if they are in a school board where CUPE-OSBCU staff are employed.


Picket Lines and Showing Up for Work

OSSTF/FEESO Members will receive direction from their employers as to work expectations. Some school boards have announced schools will close in the event of a CUPE-OSBCU strike. Other employers intend to keep schools open, or switch to emergency online learning. OSSTF/FEESO Members are obligated to follow their employer’s directions. Members should expect to be paid regardless of whether or not they are required to report to work. This includes Members on an LTO assignment.

During CUPE’s protest, OSSTF/FEESO Members should not do any work that is normally performed by the CUPE Bargaining Unit. If asked to perform such work by the employer, Members should report this immediately to their Bargaining Unit representative.

Local leaders on time-release who don’t have other obligations are encouraged to join a CUPE picket line. The Provincial Executive will be joining CUPE picket lines on Friday.

Should OSSTF/FEESO Members encounter a picket line at their worksite:

Local leaders have received instructions about protocols when encountering a picket line and Members should contact their local OSSTF/FEESO office with any questions. In brief, Members should be respectful, show support for the CUPE members in the picket line and follow the protocols to cross when safe to do so. Report to work as you normally would. On unpaid time (before work, lunch, after work) consider going out to picket lines to walk with CUPE members.


Supporting CUPE-OSBCU Members

OSSTF/FEESO Members are strongly encouraged to show their support for striking CUPE-OSBCU members. They can do so by doing the following actions:

  • joining CUPE-OSBCU picket lines before work, after work, or during lunch breaks;
  • wearing purple at work;
  • sending a letter to the Premier, Minister of Education, and their local MPP through an email your MPP tool set up by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL); and
  • using “Don’t Block Fair Bargaining” posters, social media graphic, and handout to share OSSTF/FEESO support.

CUPE-OSBCU has indicated that they plan on setting up most of their picket lines at MPP offices across the province. CUPE-OSBCU has set up a Picket Line Finder tool to indicate where picket lines will be set up across the province.

We will share any additional information we receive from CUPE-OSBCU and/or the OFL.

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