Union representing Ontario elementary school teachers to hold strike vote
An empty classroom is shown in this file image. (The Canadian Press)
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2019 12:11PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2019 3:28PM EDT
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says it plans to hold a strike vote at a series of meetings with its 83,000 members over the next two months.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the union's president Sam Hammond said that the mass meetings will be conducted in 76 locals during late September and October.
“Members will be asked to demonstrate their support for ETFO bargaining priorities that include more support for students with special needs, class size and class structure, the protection of Full-Day Kindergarten and fair and transparent hiring practices,” Hammond said.
ETFO says its goal is to reach a deal at the central bargaining table without undertaking job action.
“(ETFO) is committed to continuing negotiations at the bargaining table until a fair and reasonable collective agreement can be reached for public elementary educators in Ontario,” the news release concluded.
The province’s education minister Stephen Lecce said the government is continuing to negotiate with the union "in good faith" to reach a deal.
“With the school year beginning, it is important that parents, students and educators have predictability. We continue to call on all parties to reach a deal as soon as possible to provide predictability and confidence to parents, students, and educators alike. Our students deserve no less," Lecce said in a written statement sent out Wednesday.
ETFO, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), and 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), have been without contracts since they expired on Aug. 31.
CUPE will be in a legal strike position come the week of Sept. 23 after filing a no-board report earlier this month.
Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, previously told CP24 that the two sides are “significantly far apart” at the negotiating table.
“I think it is important for the public to understand that we want to be there for students and we really see ourselves as the last guard to protecting those services that our students really rely upon,” she said earlier this month.
“My fear is… folks are going to see a very different school than they are used to.”