Unions challenging Ontario’s law on education contracts

OPSEU calls Bill 115 a ‘flagrant disregard for democracy,’ teams up with other unions in defense of charter rights

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has filed a legal challenge to Bill 115, the province’s Putting Students First Act.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have all filed similar challenges against the bill in defense of the charter right to bargain collectively.

“Collective bargaining is essential to democracy,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a press release. “By legislating education worker contracts across Ontario, McGuinty Liberals have denied workers their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is in turn a threat to all collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors.

“Furthermore, Bill 115 allows the government the power to interfere with the right to strike. Collective bargaining rights are essential to democracy. They are protected under the charter for a reason.”

Thomas said his union will do what it takes to get the bill repealed, calling it a “flagrant disregard for democracy.”

In addition to Bill 115, the province of Ontario has seen government cuts to the Ontario Public Service, a tightened grip on pension plans, and persistent underfunding of various services including education and health care.

“The proposed Protecting Public Services Act is more of the same,” Thomas added. “It would allow the government to determine the outcome of contract negotiations before they've even begun."

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