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CUPE issues notice to launch strike action Monday

CUPE says they're ready to go on strike if the Ontario government doesn't begin bargaining in good faith.

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Local school boards are implementing action plans with word that CUPE’s custodians, office staff, early childhood educators and education assistants, will launch a strike Monday if the Ontario government doesn’t begin bargaining in good faith.

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CUPE president Laura Walton made the announcements Wednesday, saying 93 per cent of its 55,000 members have voted in favour of strike action.

A work to rule began Monday. CUPE workers have been in a legal strike position to strike since Sept. 30.

Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce responded in a hastily called press conference by saying he is available around the clock to continue bargaining and hopes to get back to the table Friday, before the Monday strike deadline.

Lecce said he is frustrated that a deal had almost been brokered last weekend, but an outstanding matter regarding sick days continues to be a sticking point.

Algoma District School Board cancelled all community use of school activities, starting Sept. 30.

The use of schools coincided with the work-to-rule job action that began that day by CUPE workers.

CUPE represents custodial, maintenance, trades staff and food services staff, at ADSB schools.

Exempted from the temporary cancellations are groups associated with before- and after-school programs, Early On programs or day-care programs.

Schools in Elliot Lake and Blind River are not affected as employees at those sites are not CUPE members.

“While working diligently to minimize any impact on students and the school community, we trust you understand that in some situations, we have to modify our operations,” a notice on the ADSB website states.

Board spokesperson Fran Walsh said senior administration and the board of trustees “are reviewing the current landscape and are waiting to confirm a few details before issuing any statements.”

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It’s expected more information and a notice to parents will be issued sometime Thursday.

The Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board issued a letter to parents last week warning that while the board is working “diligently” to minimize any impact on students and school communities, CUPE may withdraw important services, which could cause some disruption.

CUPE employees there include early childhood educators, education assistants, care staff, day workers, carpenters, maintenance workers, library maintenance staff and school/department secretaries.

The board warns that labour action disruptions could include slower than usual entry into schools with front door buzzers, unanswered phones during recesses, lunch hours and nutrition breaks and varied recess, lunch or nutrition break supervision.

Other impacts may include the cancellation of community use of schools or school grounds and minimized high school cafeteria services.

The job action may also result in the postponement of athletic events, book fairs and field trips.

Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board communications officer Jim Fitzpatrick said the board has worked on a plan for some time and is continuing to do so as potential strike action looms.

A senior administration team meeting was set for late Wednesday.

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