Picket lines have come down outside Conservative MPPs’ offices and provincial government buildings across Ontario. The people on them – 55,000 education workers — are going back to work on Tuesday.
It comes in the wake of Premier Doug Ford backing down, rescinding legislation that imposed a four-year contract on the Canadian Union of Public Employees members, and prohibiting them from striking.
The biggest picket line in our region was outside Timmins MPP George Pirie’s office. Leading the demonstration was maintenance worker Rick Racicot, president of Local 8888. He thinks Ford’s move was made when the premier realized how many other unions were backing CUPE.
“I think it would’ve happened but it would have been a longer process,” he says. “But I think that Ford had no choice but to do what he had to do to see what support was behind us.”
Contract negotiations could resume as early as Tuesday. Racicot he hopes they finally result in a fair raise.
“I have so many people and I’m sure other locals have the same thing, that people are working two jobs. And why? They shouldn’t have to,” he stresses. “We work for the government education system. Why can’t we be up to par?”
The lowest-paid workers among janitors, educational assistants and in other positions, make about $39,000.00 a year.