Bailey turns down request to meet with Lambton CUPE leaders as province poised to imposes preemptive back to work legislation

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Leaders for Lambton’s educational workers say Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey is refusing to meet with them.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says preemptive back to work legislation will be introduced at Queen’s Park at 1 p.m. today to stop educational workers represented by CUPE from going on strike. The province and union have been meeting with a mediator, but over the weekend, the union gave five days notice of a strike.

The legislation is not-only to stop any work action which would disrupt the classroom but also imposes an annual increase of 2.5 percent for those making less than $43,000 a year. The increase will be 1.5 percent for those making over $43,000.

Even before word of the back to work legislation broke this morning, the President of Local 1238 CUPE in Lambton Michelle Lalonge-Davey requested to meet with Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey on Nov. 4 to discuss the labour dispute with the support workers in schools. That meeting will not be taking place because she said Bailey has been instructed not to meet with her.

Lalonge-Davey had asked for the meeting on Nov. 4, the MPP’s regular day to meet with constituents. Many of Local 1238 members are constituents of Bailey, she said.

“We are stretched thin,” she said, as the union is fighting for the kids, families and improvements to the education system. CUPE has been pushing for its members, families and supporters to flood MPP offices with phone calls, emails, while also getting in front of their government representatives, face to face, to tell them of their displeasure in dealing with the pending labour action.

“It is a violation of our rights,” said Lalonge-Davey, of the legislation the Ontario government plans to pass which would avert a strike action. This prevents workers from negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, she said.

“This is essentially a pay cut overall,” said Lalonge-Davey, given the level of inflation is currently at seven percent. She also doesn’t like that there are two different percentage increases for her members.

CUPE issued its five-day notice on Sunday of a potential strike action. Local 1238 represent 1,000 members in Lambton Kent, which include educational assistants, clerical staff, custodians and early childhood educators.

CUPE represents 55,000 support workers within the public education system across the province.