School staffing, salary proposals would cost significantly less than Ontario government estimates, union says

Wage and staffing proposals for Ontario education workers would cost less than what the government has announced, their union said on Friday as it released its own analysis of the first offer it presented during the negotiations.

The Ontario School Board Council of Unions of the Canadian Union of Public Employees represents 55,000 support staff and is ahead of other education unions in negotiating contracts, having submitted a first offer and having received one from the provincial government.

« The Minister for Education is repeatedly overestimating the cost » of salary and other proposals, council chair Laura Walton said.

The union says its proposal to raise pay by $3.25 an hour each year over three years, or about 11.7%, along with other raises and increases in staffing levels, would cost about $11, $35 billion if applied to all education unions, not the $21.78 billion. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.

Walton said the union calculates the raises using the dollar figure, but believes the Department of Education used the percentage, which would inflate the overall figure when applied to top earners.

Lecce called CUPE’s salary and other proposals « astronomical, unreasonable and inconsistent with those footing the bill, which is the taxpayer. »

He said “what we sign with CUPE becomes the floor of all other education negotiations”.

The provincial government has frozen public sector wage increases at 1% per year for the past few years. He offered CUPE workers earning less than $40,000 a 2% annual raise over four years, and those earning more than $40,000 a 1.25% annual raise.

CUPE workers generally earn the lowest wages among school workers, although their average annual salary of $39,000 includes part-time workers.

Negotiations continue with all education unions, whose contracts expire at the end of the month.

No union action is planned for the fall.


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