There was little if any coverage of the step back from Bill 122 taken by the education sector of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario on Jan. 13.
CUPE announced it was pulling its support for the bill due to ongoing frustrations with the manner the 2012-14 Memorandum of Understanding and subsequent contracts are being inconsistently handled across the province. I've seen this frustration first-hand and covered it as it pertained to how the support-staff members' contract was (or rather, wasn't) being implemented at a local Catholic district school board. The school board's response in this case was that it wasn't going to implement something it wasn't being funded to cover.
It's a common error made in covering K-12-- all the focus is on teachers and their unions with comparatively much less attention paid to the support staff members in our schools and the unions representing them. The size of the teaching component ensured MOUs from the disastrous 2012-14 contracts were funded based on what was in each subsequent agreement.
For support staff members, the situation has been a different one. Some boards have found the funding and consistently applied the changes to sick days, payouts of banked days (if any, since few boards offered this to support staff), tapping into short-term disability plans, etc. Others did not apply those items in a consistent way.
CUPE, which represents the vast majority of custodial, administrative, maintenance, classroom-support (EAs, IAs) and specialist positions in Ontario schools, said Monday it's had enough with how an agreement reached provincially is being implemented locally. Per the language it's using, the party it's holding primarily responsible is the government.
It's fearing Bill 122 will only formalize a scenario where this sort of 'provincial agreement doesn't get implemented properly at the local level' experience will happen again, and again. For anyone catching up, Bill 122 is heading into line-by-line review by committee later this year with the government's stated goal of having third reading of the bill reach the floor of the legislature before the March break.
The bill would formalize in law a two-tier setup for bargaining in the education sector-- at a central table with the Crown present alongside reps from unions and school boards, along with the traditional union-and-employer bargaining.
CUPE is urging its members contact MPPs across Ontario to express their concerns and lobby for their member to withdraw her or his support from the bill.
When I grabbed the link Monday, there was some casual social-media chatter other unions might follow CUPE's lead on this front. Doing a tour of their websites before typing this, I couldn't see any similar statements alongside each union's Bill 122-related content. What I did see were commitments to speak before the legislative committee to ensure their concerns would be heard.