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(TORONTO – April 2, 2007) CUPE Ontario salutes President Don Bryans and the 2100 members of Local 218 Durham School Board workers who stood up on the picket lines, not just for themselves and school children, but for school board workers across the province.
Nobody who works with the public wants to go on strike. It’s always a difficult decision, said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. But these workers had the courage of their convictions and they stood up against the school board, which was under enormous pressure because of a flawed funding formula that is the responsibility of the government of Ontario.
Luckily this board found a way to understand the value of these workers. That’s how they were able to get a settlement, added Ryan. But it must be noted that the government sent in special mediators because the longer this strike continued, the more the Liberals were going to wear this across-the-board flawed funding formula.
There is no doubt that this strike was not just about the school board but also about the failure of the McGuinty Government to address the continued shortfall in funding for school operations. In a brilliant and quickly executed strategy, Local 218 worked with CUPE Ontario and CUPE Ontario Region to bring upwards to 30 busloads of striking workers to Queen’s Park for a boisterous rally on the afternoon that McGuinty unveiled his government’s budget. The media and politicians couldn’t help make the connection between the strike and the government’s failure to fix the flawed funding formula, says Ryan.
Local 218’s actions now serve as a model for other locals who are going to face the same pressure at the bargaining table to stand up for what they know is right and fair, and what they know children in our schools deserve, added Ryan. McGuinty has been served notice that labour unrest will continue to show up at every school board bargaining table until his government restores the funding needed for school operations and CUPE worker jobs.