Catholic teachers back strike mandate; ETFO moves closer to strike
Published Friday, April 24, 2015 5:46PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 24, 2015 6:47PM EDT
As their members continue to work without a contract, Ontario’s three largest teachers’ unions are now all signalling possible strikes.
Teachers represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation have been on strike all week in Durham Region.
OSSTF units in the Mississauga and Sudbury areas have also set strike dates, while Waterloo Region’s public high school teachers would be in a legal strike position by May 4.
Talks between the province and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario had been said to be at an impasse for some time.
Friday, the union said it had received a no board report, meaning public elementary teachers could take job action by May 10.
"ETFO members are running out of patience," union president Sam Hammond said in a press release.
"Our members are telling us they are deeply offended by the insinuations that their professional practice needs to be policed by (the Ontario Public School Boards' Association)."
That move came only a few hours after members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association voted 94.2 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.
The mandate does not mean a strike is imminent, only that OECTA members have given their leadership the ability to declare one should talks break down.
“If necessary, our members will go to the picket line and will engage in strike action,” OECTA president James Ryan told CTV News.
Ryan said things would remain business as usual in Catholic classrooms until at least June, but warned that job action could occur anytime from then on.
“There is a real danger, this fall, that operations in Catholic schools across Ontario will not be normal,” he said.
In a statement to CTV News, the president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association said negotiations between the two sides remain active.
“We will continue to bargain in good faith, respecting the negotiating process and maintaining the specifics of negotiations at the table,” Kathy Burtnik said.
“We wish all parents and students in our Catholic schools to know that we are committed to this bargaining process and we are hopeful that an agreement with OECTA will be reached.”
According to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, contract talks on the local level have yet to begin.