Workers at two Catholic school boards in northeastern Ontario vote to unionize | CBC News

Workers at two Catholic school boards in northeastern Ontario have voted to unionize.

Approximately 270 workers at the Sudbury Catholic District School Board (SCDSB), and approximately 200 workers at the Northeastern Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) are joining the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents over 55,000 education workers across Ontario.

The workers include early childhood educators, educational assistants, supply workers, administrative staff, lunch monitors, speech pathologists, social workers, chaplaincy leads, and paraprofessionals across both school boards.

Union organizing campaigns at both school boards took place separately over the last several months. Eighty-six per cent of non-unionized workers at NCDSB, and 62 per cent of workers at SCDSB have now voted to unionize.

A woman with dark hair wearing a green shirt smiles.
Corry Allair is an early childhood educator with the Sudbury Catholic District School Board, and says workers decided to unionize to have a collective voice for their concerns. (Submitted by Corry Allair)

Corry Allair works as an early childhood educator in the SCDSB, and is one of the union organizing committee members.

“I think it was just very important for the workers to be able to be part of a collective unit,” said Allair.

“It was more of just having a collective voice so that together we now can have the power to make improvements to whatever our concerns are, like working conditions, proper staffing, job security and having the right to representation was also important.”

Allair said they were one of the few school boards in the province that still had non-unionized workers. She said in the coming months, workers will vote in members for their bargaining unit and will then try to negotiate a collective agreement with the school board.

The word CUPE is written in pink letters against a white background.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents over 55,000 education workers across Ontario. Workers at two catholic school boards in northeastern Ontario have voted to become union members. (CUPE)

In a statement to CBC News, SCDSB said it “values the contributions of all our staff and are committed to continuing to work collaboratively in providing a supportive and enriching educational environment. Together, we look forward to continuing to work with our employees in a respectful manner in the establishment of our initial CUPE collective agreement this fall.”

At the NCDSB, which has schools in areas such as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Kapuskasing, New Liskeard and others, workers are joining CUPE Local 4681. 

“This is a great step toward improving wages and working conditions for Registered Early Childhood Educators, lunch monitors and paraprofessionals at Northeastern Catholic,” said Sue Cyr, CUPE Local 4681 president.

“We are thrilled that all of the education workers at Northeastern Catholic District School Board will now be unionized and have the power to advocate for improvements to working and learning conditions.”

CBC News has reached out to the NCDSB for comment, and is awaiting its response.

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