TORONTO, October 31, 2022 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) extends a message of solidarity to education workers in Ontario, represented by CUPE – Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) and condemns the Ontario government’s tabled back-to-work legislation and threats to invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect this legislation from constitutional and legal challenges.
“Canadian workers have a constitutionally protected right to strike, and in our view, this legislation is an illegal, attempted infringement on this right,” said Sue Wurtele, OCUFA President. “This legislation is a pointed and conspicuous threat to workers’ rights in Ontario. OCUFA supports CUPE-OSBCU education workers in their fight against this legislation and their calls for fairness and equity on the job.”
The 55,000 OSBCU members include education assistants, school library workers, administrative assistants, custodians and tradespeople, early childhood educators, instructors, social workers, and more. These workers earn $39,000 per year on average, and 51 per cent of them must work another job to make ends meet. They are calling on the Ford government to hire more education workers to support all students, and to increase their wages, as they are the lowest paid employees in the sector.
Representing 17,000 faculty, librarians, and academic workers across Ontario, OCUFA supports education workers’ fight for fairness and equity inside and outside the classroom. OCUFA is concerned that education workers have seen an 11 per cent real wage cut in the last decade, and 91 per cent face financial hardship today. Further, OCUFA is disturbed by the disproportionate impact of low pay on women, who make up 70 per cent of the CUPE-OSBCU workforce and are more likely to be employed in positions with lower annual incomes than men and in positions that are affected by temporary layoffs during school breaks. These inequities add to the province’s gender pay gap.
On behalf of its 30 member organizations, OCUFA calls on the provincial government to continue to bargain in good faith, raise education workers’ wages significantly to ensure their financial stability, and to hire more workers to do the essential jobs that keep children safe, healthy, and cared for in schools. We also invite supporters to sign a letter of support and learn more about the campaign.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or firstname.lastname@example.org