“It affirms once again that workers’ right to unionize and take part in collective bargaining is a right protected by the Charter, and it lets governments know that violating that right comes with a price tag." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (12 June 2017) — Education workers in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) will receive $2.75 million in damages for the loss of collective bargaining rights under Ontario’s Putting Students First Act, better known as Bill 115.
Ruling confirms workers' right to bargain collectively
OPSEU/NUPGE was 1 of 5 unions that challenged the act in court after it was introduced in 2012. In April 2016, Mr. Justice Tom Lederer ruled that Bill 115 had violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In his ruling, Lederer said the government had made it “impossible for true collective bargaining to take place.”
OPSEU/NUPGE entered into negotiations with the province following the ruling, resulting in the $2.75 million settlement. The union represents approximately 2,700 workers at seven school boards around Ontario.
“This settlement is a huge win for workers, not just in the affected bargaining units, but right across Canada,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “It affirms once again that workers’ right to unionize and take part in collective bargaining is a right protected by the Charter, and it lets governments know that violating that right comes with a price tag."
“I congratulate all members of our education sector on this important victory,” Thomas said. “It was 5 years in the making, but the struggle was worth it.”
All OPSEU/NUPGE school board workers whose bargaining was affected by the Putting Students First Act are entitled to compensation.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE