June 14, 2024
Ontario's win-win-win deal with 55,000 education workers bodes well for future negotiations
With the CUPE deal, the government has taken the first step toward contracts that will moderate education cost increases while being fair to education workers and providing stability for parents. That is a rare win-win-win.
With the CUPE deal, the government has taken the first step toward contracts that will moderate education cost increases while being fair to education workers and providing stability for parents. That is a rare win-win-win.

When a party to a labour negotiation describes a deal as “win-win-win,” it always sounds like a statement that is at least two-thirds baloney. How can everyone win? Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce was pretty close to the mark, though, when he gave that assessment of the government’s new deal with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and its 55,000 education workers.

It all comes down to how one defines the term “win.” For the provincial government, the deal met two key objectives. The first was avoiding a strike. The disruption that would have resulted from closing down 4,000 schools would inevitably have blown back on the government. It’s not like parents are clamouring for education spending restraint.

The big gain was convincing a major union to accept a three-year contract with one per cent annual pay increases. The CUPE deal will save the government somewhat more than $60 million over three years, compared to the cost of a more typical two per cent raise, but it is the precedent that’s important. That one per cent limit is the target the government wants to hit for the entire broader public sector and the savings are big if it can achieve that goal.

Getting the CUPE deal was not cheap. The former Liberal government had created a temporary, two-year pot of money to allow school boards to hire additional workers, primarily education assistants. That deal had expired, but the PC government has agreed to restore the money at a cost of $58.3 million a year.  It will also spend $20 million a year to allow boards to hire more workers in CUPE jobs, including janitors and office administrators.

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See Also:

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(3) Linda O’Leary faces fine, not jail time in fatal boat crash, Public Prosecution Service now says

(4) A damning $250K HR report but no TCHC heads will roll

(5) Liberals and Conservatives agree: Ford is a liability for the federal Conservatives in Ontario

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