WINDSOR, ON, Oct. 14, 2016 /CNW/ - On Monday, October 17, Unifor support workers at the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board will commence legal strike action.
"This action is not directed at students, their families or the community, our picket lines will not prevent or delay students from entering the schools," said Bruce Dickie, President of Unifor Local 2458.
Unifor Local 2458, representing 370 office support, clerical, information technology, custodian and maintenance staff, will operate the picket lines. Parents, guardians and students will be allowed direct access for drop-off and pick-up. The strike action follows years of failed negotiations with WECDSB. The support workers are represented by two bargaining units. Both groups voted overwhelmingly to support a strike.
"Wages have been frozen since 2012, which is when the last freely negotiated collective agreement expired, and the Board is also seeking to retroactively claw back prior gains," said Deb Tveit, Assistant to the Unifor National President. "Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has called this an 'unfortunate situation' but it's one of its own making as they refused to continue negotiations."
The Board has announced that schools will remain open. However, Unifor warns that parents should not expect normal activity during strike action as office and technical support will not be available to students, repair and cleaning of the buildings will not take place and community use of the schools will be suspended.
The expired contract was forced on 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 court decision found Bill 115 to be unconstitutional but the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board continues to stand by its conditions.
"It is our goal to resolve this as quickly as possible so the school year can continue normally," said Unifor National Representative Darlene Prouse. "It's past time for the Board to sit down and work out a deal."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every sector of the economy. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
For further information: please contact Kathleen O'Keefe at Kathleen.OKeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).