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Labour Update

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HWDSB strives to keep its community informed about the status of labour negotiations with employee groups.

Click date for update.

October 7, 2019

“We’re pleased the Council of Trustees’ Association and the provincial government have successfully negotiated a tentative settlement on central terms of a collective agreement with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education worker.

All job action sanctions are lifted and our schools are returning to business as normal.

School- and system-based activities, including extracurriculars, will resume on Monday, October 7, 2019 at the discretion of the principal or the organizer. Instructional Periods Outside of the School Day will also resume, October 7.

Athletics, however, will resume Tuesday, October 8 and staff/coaches are in the process of rescheduling postponed sporting events.

Community Use of Schools/Rental permits will be reinstated. Information has been shared with the school staff that permit users can access our facilities effective immediately.”


Alex Johnstone, Chair of the Board

October 6, 2019

“HWDSB Board of Trustees are pleased to confirm that a tentative agreement was reached at the provincial negotiation tables. On Monday, October 7th, schools will be open and our valued caretakers and maintenance staff will rejoin our school teams.

We sincerely appreciate the patience from our families in these challenging times. With the deal and sanctions lifted, we want to ensure our community that we will return to normal operations as soon as possible.

Every attempt will be made to contact the before-school programs and child care providers this evening. There could be service delays tomorrow before school. Please contact your local provider.

Today’s announcement is a positive step that offers both a fair deal for our workers while putting students front and centre by ensuring they have the full support of their school’s entire staff team. Our students deserve the very best from all of us.”


Alex Johnstone, Chair of the Board

Additional Updates (Last revised, Sunday, October 6):

  • All childcare providers, EarlyON centres, authorized rec and before-and after-school program partners have confirmed that all programs will resume regular operations tomorrow, October 7, 2019.
  • We will communicate information related to Community Use of Schools/Rentals tomorrow.
  • Athletics will continue with Cross Country and Junior Tennis on Monday as scheduled. All other athletics will commence later this week. Schools will provide updates.

Picket Line Information for Members of the Community

Picketing during a lawful strike is a legal right of protest (Ontario Labour Relations Act). This information is provided to ensure that members of the school community have information related to picket lines.

Crossing a picket line

All staff, students, parents and visitors have the right to cross picket lines without harassment or intimidation.

When crossing a picket line, calmly inform the picket captain that you wish to cross.

The picketers in a legal strike situation may stop an individual and speak to them for several minutes without breaking the law. Picketers may also pass out informational material which you may wish to accept.

Interactions with picketers

We encourage individuals crossing the picket line to not get involved in arguments or altercations with people on the picket line. Please do not try to force your way through the picket line. You may choose to explain the reason you are entering school property (e.g. picking up a child).

Intimidation or attempted intimidation of a person is unlawful.

Should difficulties arise preventing your entrance, you should immediately leave the scene, call the school office, and ask to speak to a principal or vice-principal.

Any criminal acts should be reported directly by the victim to the police.

When possible, individuals should try to minimize the number of times during the day that they cross a picket line. This will minimize class delays and wait times.


If you are driving through a picket line, please drive carefully to ensure that you do not injure a picketer. Pass through only when you have been permitted to do so.

Parents dropping off and picking up their children are encouraged to park off school property and walk to the school. If possible, consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles crossing the picket line.

While waiting to cross, individuals in vehicles should be careful to avoid blocking traffic on the road. It is suggested that individuals try to approach the school from the right side (so that they turn right into the driveway of the school), avoiding having to cross the road and waiting in the middle of the road.

October 4, 2019

On October 3, we shared information with families about our decision to keep our schools open, with a contingency plan, should an agreement not be reached and CUPE withdrawals all service starting Monday, October 7, 2019. Our priority remains student learning and safety.

A reminder that our schools will remain open to the students and to the public only during the instructional day (15 minutes before classes begin and 15 minutes after classes end)

What does our contingency plan include?

HWDSB’s contingency plan supports our schools being safe, clean and open. Approximately 130 non-union staff will be deployed to schools to support our principals and vice-principals in maintaining learning environments for students.

Non-union staff will be engaged in essential cleaning for the purpose of health and safety.

Priority cleaning will be done by our principals/vice-principals and non-union staff.

Examples include:

  • flushing of water
  • cleaning spills
  • cleaning washrooms
  • removal of inside garbage
  • cleaning cafeterias in Secondary Schools
  • wiping classroom desks in Elementary Schools

What can parents expect?

Our main priority will be cleaning inside the buildings. Our focus is to ensure our schools are safe and sustainable as we implement the contingency plan.

We will be monitoring daily for any potential risks of the contingency plan. We will be looking at the impact on our Health and Safety requirements, student well-being and staff culture. Our commitment is frequent communication with families and our community.

We’ve heard from many parent volunteers who wish to help clean in our schools and we respectfully have to decline this offer of support.


Alex Johnstone, Chair of the Board 

Additional Updates:

  • Community Use of Schools/Rentals: From October 5 to 20, all rental permits on any board property are cancelled. Recurring permit holders will see a credit applied to their November payments for any uses cancelled for which they have already paid.
  • Extra-curricular activities: All extra-curricular activities are cancelled.
  • Athletics: Elementary Cross Country will continue on Monday October 7, 8 and 10. Secondary Junior Tennis, which is being held on Monday, October 7, 2019.  These one-time events are carried over from this week.
  • Public Health: All immunization performed in schools, dental and vision screenings are postponed.
  • Child care: The City of Hamilton and HWDSB are working closely together to minimize impacts to families and children accessing licensed child care and before and after-school programs. We recognize that the cancellations and modifications are challenging for families and staff. For those families that are currently in receipt of child care fee subsidies, there will be no change to their current subsidy.
  • Instructional Periods Outside of the School Day: Some schools schedule credit granting courses during instructional periods outside of the formal school day, typically for arts learning connected to bands or orchestras (e.g. Jazz Band, Repertoire Band). Typically, these programs are scheduled prior to the school day and some after school. These programs parallel extra-curricular in terms of supervision and time at school.

Instructional Periods Outside of the School Day will be on pause until further notice beginning Monday, October 7, 2019, if the anticipated job action occurs. The pause will not cause an academic penalty or place credits at risks—students will continue to earn a credit based on their achievement in these programs. The pause will be assessed on an on-going basis and next steps will be shared with the community.

Resumption of cancelled or postponed events will be announced by HWDSB.

October 3, 2019

HWDSB received official notice that on Monday, October 7, 2019, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents about 500 HWDSB caretakers and maintenance workers, may take strike action in the form of a full withdrawal of service.

The strike is a province-wide job action taken as a collective agreement has not been reached between the Government of Ontario and CUPE. HWDSB is planning to implement contingency measures to keep schools safe, clean and open.

Please see the following letter regarding what families can expect starting on Monday, October 7, 2019:

Parent Letter – Labour Update Oct 3 2019 final

October 2, 2019

HWDSB is working through the information presented by CUPE that escalates job action from work-to-rule to a strike as of October 7, 2019.
Contingency plans are being considered. Information will be shared with families no later than tomorrow, October 3, 2019.

September 30, 2019

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents HWDSB caretakers and maintenance workers, started job action as of Monday, September 30, 2019. An agreement was not reached at the Central Bargaining table and this labour response is directed at the provincial government.

As a Board, we are responding to the local implications of these actions and making student safety and well-being a priority.

Job action includes a number of work-to-rule instructions by the local employee group that may have an impact on the school facility. Staff are reviewing all options to ensure that our school environments are safe and healthy and that we maintain student learning during this time.

Contingency plans are in place to ensure that floors are swept in gymnasiums, hallways and entrances, garbage is cleared and health and safety requirements are maintained.

While before-and after school care, authorized recreation programs, elementary Meet the Teachers nights and School Council meetings, for example, continue to operate, we have cancelled all elementary and secondary Community Use of Schools permit holders. These include external users who access HWDSB facilities after 6:00 p.m. and on the weekend.

Cancellation of Community Use of Schools rentals is due to the health and safety related concerns. In addition, our contingency efforts are being directed to support student programming.

We will continue to reassess on a weekly basis and continue to communicate with partners and families. We thank families for their patience as Central Bargaining with the provincial government continues.

For a complete list of what is operating in schools and what is postponed, visit the Labour Update sections on the website.

List of what’s operating and postponed

The following will continue The following are postponed or cancelled
  • Before- and After-school care
  • Authorized Recreation Programs
  • Partnerships with formal agreements
  • International Language Education (Check for some modifications)
  • Reciprocal agreements with the City of Hamilton
  • Field rentals
  • Elementary Meet the Teacher Nights
  • Parent meetings such as School Council and Home & School Associations
  • System professional learning
  • Election permits, including advanced polls
  • Athletics
  • All elementary and secondary Community Use of Schools permit holders – this includes external users accessing HWDSB facilities after 6:00 p.m. and weekends
  • Bernie Custis Secondary School official opening event on October 4, 2019
  • Waterdown District High School field opening event on October 4 (Game will continue)
  • Hamilton Foundation for Student Success Donor Appreciation Event on October 10, 2019

September 26, 2019

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing education workers across the province has indicated they will begin job action in the form of “Work to Rule” on Monday, September 30, 2019. At HWDSB, CUPE represents caretakers and maintenance workers.

What this will look like in our schools?

All HWDSB schools and EarlyON, early learning and child care centres will remain open and learning will continue in our classrooms. CUPE staff will continue to report to work on Monday, September 30, 2019.

We will provide students with a safe and welcoming places to learn. We are focused on the learning and well-being of our students.

We are pleased to hear CUPE is scheduled to return to the central bargaining table this weekend. Productive discussions are also continuing locally. HWDSB is committed to reaching fair, negotiated local agreements while maintaining positive long-term relationships with all of our colleagues.

We will keep our community informed as developments continue.

Stay Informed

Visit the HWDSB Labour Update web page
Follow us on Twitter @hwdsb and Facebook @HWDSB
Subscribe to updates from the HWDSB website
Follow provincial developments on the Labour Relations web page of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.

Updated on Monday, October 07, 2019.
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