It will have been one week since a school shut down occurred when the next strike takes place, if things proceed as scheduled. Two months ago one was avoided when CUPE job action was threatened as the staff representatives and the Province finally settled their contract dispute with hours left in the negotiations. Sadly, this was not the case with negotiations between Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the Province and OSSTF last week. Nor does it seem like it will be again this week as a 2nd single day job action has been promised for Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 if no agreement is reached. Though this one is not province wide; it will only impact 9 secondary school boards.
- Toronto District School Board
- Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
- Grand Erie District School Board
- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
- Near North District School Board
- Rainy River District School Board
- Simcoe County District School Board
- Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
- Trillium Lakelands District School Board
That means high school students from Grand Erie District School Board, and also both secondary and elementary students in the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board would find themselves unable to attend school on Wednesday.
Labour Update (Dec. 6): All Grand Erie secondary schools CLOSED to students on Wed. Dec. 11 due to one-day, full withdrawal of services by OSSTF members. Secondary schools re-open Dec. 12. All @GEDSB elementary schools OPEN on Dec. 11 as no OSSTF impact. https://t.co/EHF0kNXmU4 pic.twitter.com/dhgxkIBXep
— Grand Erie District School Board (@GEDSB) December 6, 2019
A second OSSTF walkout has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 2019. All elementary AND secondary school will be closed if no agreement reached. Please read full message from the Chair of the Board.. https://t.co/DO1Z4jolpP pic.twitter.com/a6nuVNNvUd
— BHNCDSB (@bhncdsb) December 6, 2019
So what happened? With contract negotiations having been under way for months, and not much progress being made, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) both announced work-to-rule job action would begin on November 26th, 2019. But for OSSTF this escalated quickly, and on November 28th it was announced a single-day strike would take place on December 4th, 2019 if no contract had been negotiated. As time ticked down it became obvious that no contract would be settled upon, especially as the Provincial representatives failed to come to the table on Tuesday, Dec 3rd. And so approximately 55,000 OSSTF members held a one-day strike throughout the province this past Wednesday leaving 628,000 students out of class. In the days since no progress has been made and it does not appear that any shall be in the immediate future.
Issues of contention appear to be:
- Class Size – The Province wants to increase classes sizes to 25, up from 22, the Teachers want to keep class sizes as they are.
- Mandatory Online Course – The Province wishes to institute 2 mandatory e-learning credits, Teachers want a comprehensive study on the matter before implementation.
- Funding for Special Education, Education Workers, and Programming Supports – Teachers want a commitment to restore a baseline for this funding and ensure a minimum of workers.
- Compensation – Province wants a 1% maximum yearly increase, Teachers want it tied to inflation.
The union has not had an agreement with the Province since August, and this job action is intended to increase pressure to see it happen, though that would be difficult, since as of Friday no talks were scheduled between Minister for Education for the Province, Stephen Lecce and OSSTF. Lecce says this is because the union has not altered their end in months, and has not set and dates for discussion. In response, OSSTF offered to accept the Minister’s proposal of private mediation and postpone the December 11 job action if the Minister would “remove the legislative, regulatory, and policy impediments to bargaining that the government unilaterally enacted,” referring to bill 124, along with a few other demands. They also listed their proposal on their website – www.BargainingForEducation.ca.
Meanwhile, Teachers represented by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) are also at the negotiating table with the province. OECTA members will be in a legal strike position as of Dec. 21. And the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are set to be at the bargaining table with the province Monday, as they also are still looking to find a deal.