Unifor support staff at the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board voted to support a strike, putting 370 workers in a legal strike position as of Monday, October 17.
“The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has been given every opportunity to seek a resolution,” said Deb Tveit, assistant to the Unifor National President. “Our members have been working without a contract for over two-years now and, as of today, the Board isn’t even coming to the negotiating table.”
Unifor Local 2458 represents two bargaining units that include technicians, custodians and maintenance staff.
“Wages have been frozen since 2012, and now the Board is seeking to retroactively claw back prior gains,” said Unifor National Representative Darlene Prouse. “Our members have had enough; it’s time for fairness.”
The strike mandate was authorized with votes of 92 per cent by the office, clerical and technician unit and 100 per cent by the custodial and maintenance unit. Unifor had been in ongoing talks to secure a new collective agreement, the strike vote was held after negotiations came to an impasse.
Both bargaining units have been without a contract since August 31, 2014. The expired contract was forced upon the employees under the Ontario government’s infamous anti-worker Bill 115; legislation that has since been ruled by an Ontario court to have “substantially interfered” with education workers’ right to collective bargaining.
The April 20 court decision found Bill 115 to be unconstitutional as it not only forced contracts on workers, it also froze wages, restricted the ability to strike and removed access to benefits for upcoming retirees. Despite the court decision, the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board continues to stand by the conditions of Bill 115.
“We are appreciative of the impact a potential strike may have on students and parents,” said Bruce Dickie, president of Unifor Local 2458.This is the last available resort in our effort to pursue reaching a fair and reasonable agreement.”