TORONTO, ON – Thousands of CUPE members from coast to coast to coast voted to strengthen their bargaining power by changing CUPE’s strike pay to begin on the first day of a strike or lockout.

“This historic change goes hand in hand with our members’ clear decision to put their employers on notice; in CUPE, we will not accept concessions,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, general vice-president to the national board. “After years of cutbacks, increased workloads, stagnant wages, and cuts to services, our members, and the people they serve, deserve better.  That’s why CUPE members are only interested in bargaining forward, making gains for our collective future. Strengthening our strike pay provisions shows we mean business.”

Ontario workers have been under attack for decades. CUPE implemented its new Bargain Forward policy earlier this year. The Convention’s decision to implement strike pay from day one of a strike or lockout is just one tool to support the new policy that’s been developed to give locals what they need to succeed at the bargaining table.

“Workers in Ontario have been accepting less, while those at the top keep lining their pockets with more money,” said Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario’s secretary-treasurer and regional vice- president to the national board. “Our members have said enough is enough. They’re sending a clear message. If you’re coming after us, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to fight back.”

With over 1000 collective agreements in Ontario, CUPE is in bargaining every day. Strikes are incredibly rare, but over the last year, the union has had more strikes and lockouts than at any point in its history.

“No worker ever wants to go on strike, but it is the ultimate tool that unionized workers have to defend what previous generations have built and to make things better for future generations,” said Hahn. “But if a strike becomes necessary – I’m very proud that our union has made it clear that our members no longer have to wait for picket pay. Workers will get the support they need immediately to fight back and win.”

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Jordison, CUPE Communications, 416-578-5638