Talks End Between CUPE and Ontario Government

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Work-to-Rule Campaign Starts Monday

THUNDER BAY – Talks between the Ontario government and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) ended today without a resolution.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding the end to the latest round of talks and CUPE’s job action: “It is deeply disappointing that CUPE has decided to end talks this weekend, and proceed with a partial withdrawal of services, despite a limited number of outstanding items at the table.

“The Crown and the employers tabled a reasonable offer and expanded our offer through the negotiations with one interest in mind: landing a deal that keeps our kids in class. We have offered proposals to address compensation, job security, and funding for additional staffing.  A key issue that remains is resolving rising absenteeism rates, and the impact that has on students and schools.

“The Crown and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) have been and will continue to negotiate in good faith. We remain fully committed to resuming discussions with CUPE to reach an agreement quickly to provide predictability to parents and students. On my direction, through our mediator, we have asked for additional bargaining dates to bring everyone back to the table so that we can ensure our kids remain in class.”

“We’ve always said that any job action we take will have at its heart the protection of education services for students,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which bargains centrally on behalf of the union’s 55,000 education workers.

“And this year we’ve seen those services decimated: school libraries closed over students’ lunch breaks because there aren’t enough library workers; school cleaning cut to the point that custodians are told they can only vacuum kindergarten classrooms once a week; eight or nine students with special needs now supported by a single education assistant; communications with parents affected because some schools have lost their school secretaries. If it takes job action to restore these services, then so be it. This is something worth fighting for,” adds Walton.

Lakehead Board of Education Status

As a result, Phase 1 of a work-to-rule campaign will commence Monday, September 30, 2019. At Lakehead Public Schools, CUPE represents custodians, maintenance and cafeteria staff.

Lakehead Public Schools respects the collective bargaining process and we are hopeful for a negotiated agreement. At the same time, Lakehead Public Schools is working diligently to minimize any impact on students and the school communities. Contingency plans will be in place to ensure that schools and board facilities continue to be safe learning and working environments.

Some job actions expected to be taken by CUPE staff during Phase 1 of Work to Rule include:

  • Not completing ground maintenance (includes grass cutting, shoveling, etc.).
  • Not picking up garbage outside or emptying outside garbage receptacles
  • Not setting up or take down chairs/tables etc. for any event or function school-based or community use including elections.
  • No cleaning of Ministry unfunded areas such as hallways, office areas, and gymnasiums.
  • Preparing only one daily menu item in cafeterias.
  • Not accepting cash in the cafeteria – please do not send cash for cafeteria lunches.

Community Use permits will be canceled effective Monday, September 30, 2019, until further notice. Lakehead Public Schools is committed to communicating with our school communities and community stakeholders to keep them up to date throughout this situation. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Bruce Nugent, Communications Officer at 625-5214 or

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