Ontario teachers gearing up for fall job action
Ontario’s teacher unions say work-to-rule, followed by one-day or rotating strikes, will happen this fall if no collective agreements are worked out between now and the start of school.
Leaders of the four teacher unions — representing public elementary and secondary teachers, Catholic and French — met Thursday night in downtown Toronto to map out possible co-ordinated job action, as all are expected to be in strike position by September.
James Ryan, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said that while final details have to be worked out with his union executive, a work-to-rule is likely to start off any job action and escalate from there.
He also warned there’s not a lot of time to reach deals because bargaining will be slow come summer.
“Bargaining all summer is highly unlikely,” he said, citing already booked vacations for staff on all sides at the bargaining table. “Could we be negotiating part of the summer? Yes. The entire summer? No.”
That’s because “there’s a dead time in the summer that probably stretches from about mid-July to mid-August — that’s when the education world goes dead for about a month.
“But we are committed to negotiate for the rest of June, and if we were close to an agreement, we certainly would be willing to roll up our sleeves in early July.”
But without intervention from Education Minister Liz Sandals — who has said negotiations could stretch into the summer — Ryan said he has little hope of either the government or school boards removing current proposals off the table.
Under new legislation, the unions, school boards and government negotiate costly items such as class size and salary, leaving union locals and individual school boards to hammer out items such as teacher performance reviews or job transfers.
No deals have been signed anywhere in the province. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation recently took three boards out on strike, only to have the strikes ruled illegal because they were over central items — namely class size.
Ryan said the union heads have been meeting regularly during the past year, to discuss any progress with the new bargaining process and any possible job actions.
He said issues like class sizes, use of prep time and hiring regulations are common to all. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)