A timeline of Ontario’s labour troubles in schools

June 2 — Ontario holds a provincial election and Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are re-elected with an even bigger majority.

June 3 — The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 55,000 education workers, issues a notice of intent to bargain, the first step to starting labour negotiations.

July 18 — Bargaining begins.

Aug. 2 — CUPE presents a full package of bargaining proposals, which includes a proposal for a flat $3.25-an-hour pay raise per year over a three-year deal.

Aug. 15 — The government’s opening offer of a pay raise of no more than two per cent a year described as “disheartening” by CUPE.

Aug. 26 — CUPE files for conciliation, asking for a neutral third party to join discussions.

Aug. 31 — CUPE members’ collective agreement expires.

Oct. 3 — Strike vote results show 96.5 per cent of CUPE members support stop-work action.

Oct. 7 — CUPE negotiators request “no board” report, meaning they consider the talks to have reached an impasse. This step starts a countdown to when a work stoppage can legally occur.

Oct. 17 — The government and CUPE enter into mediation.

Oct. 30 — CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions issues a strike notice, a legal requirement stating workers will strike five days later if no agreement was reached before then.

Oct. 31 — Ford government responds by introducing Bill 28, the Keeping Students in Class Act, which orders education workers back to work with an imposed below-inflation pay rise and fines for stop-work action. The union says its planned Friday strike will go ahead anyway.

Nov. 2 — CUPE says it has trimmed its demands, but sides remain at a standoff, with Education Minister Stephen Lecce saying the government won’t sign off on a deal unless CUPE calls off the Friday strike. The union says it won’t call off the stop-work action unless it reaches a deal with the province.

Nov. 3 — Bill 28 receives royal assent and becomes law.

Nov. 4 — School boards across Ontario close schools on Friday after CUPE members withdraw their labour. The government asks the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to rule on the legality of the CUPE action.

Nov. 5 to 6 — The BC Teachers' Federation and Unifor each pledge $1 million to help cover any fines striking education workers receive and solidarity rallies are held by other labour groups over the weekend while the OLRB hears arguments.

Nov. 7 — A second day of school closures sees thousands of CUPE members descend on Queen’s Park and the offices of various politicians. Premier Ford says he will repeal the legislation if CUPE calls off the strike, and CUPE agrees.

Nov. 8 — Bargaining talks with a mediator resume.

Nov. 9 — CUPE says it will not accept a two-tier deal, where some workers would get a bigger raise than others, which is what the government is currently offering.

Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Canada's National Observer