High school teachers’ union warns of possible strike in Waterloo Region
Published Saturday, March 14, 2015 6:16PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:31PM EDT
The president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation says Waterloo Region’s high school teachers are one of seven unions that could be headed to the picket lines before the end of the school year.
“The clock is ticking and our patience is wearing thin, and with the tick of the clock these seven districts are moving closer to full withdrawal of services at end of April at very latest,” Paul Elliot, the president of the OSSTF, told members at their annual general meeting held in Toronto on Saturday.
OSSTF members have been working without a collective agreement since August.
The union says issues include special education funding, larger class sizes and erosion of working conditions.
“Say to government and school boards of this province that our patience has run out, and it’s no longer acceptable for them to treat us like our work doesn’t matter,” Elliot told the crowd.
Up to 10,000 teachers and support staff across seven different school boards could be in a strike position by the end of April.
Kez Vicario-Robinson, a grade 12 student in the Waterloo Region District School Board, hopes the board and union can come to an agreement.
“I kind of see where (the union) are coming from, but it affects the students so much,” Vicario-Robinson said.
The union hopes it won’t come to a strike.
“The whole point is never to go on strike, it’s always to get a collective agreement. That's what we're trying to do,” said Rob Gascho, with the Waterloo branch of the OSSTF.
The union says it has filed for conciliation with seven boards. They say those boards were chosen because of local issues.
The seven school districts affected are:
- Peel District School Board
- Durham District School Board
- Halton District School Board
- Lakehead District School Board (Thunder Bay)
- Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
- Rainbow District School Board (Sudbury/Manitoulin Island)
- Waterloo Region District School Board
In a statement to CTV News the Waterloo Region District School Board said it continues to negotiate with employee groups including the OSSTF with a focus to improve student achievement and well-being.
"There is an established bargaining process in place, which involves negotiations locally and separately at the provincial level. We respect this process and will not bargain publicly through the media," it continued.