'They want us to send a strong message': Elementary teachers' union votes on strike mandate
Shannon Bradbury, CTV Kitchener
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2019 7:49AM EDT
WATERLOO - Less than 24 hours after an education support workers strike was averted across Ontario, elementary school teachers' union voted in Waterloo Region regarding a similar option.
Members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario gathered at Bingemans in Kitchener on Monday to vote on a strike mandate.
ETFO represents the contracts of over 2,500 teachers in the region.
“It’s the vote to get support of our members if we take a strike action,” said ETFO Waterloo Region president Greg Weiler. “While the first part of the meeting will be informational, this is also a response from concerns we’ve heard from our membership in response to actions from the current government.
“They want us to send a strong message that we want to reach a deal at the table and we are prepared to back it up if we need to.”
Each ETFO local in the province is expected to take a similar vote by Oct. 30. The results from the votes will be released Nov. 1.
ETFO President Sam Hammond says they’re seeking additional and ongoing support for students with special education needs and programming support for students on the autism spectrum, which was negotiated in the last collective agreement.
“The message to parents, members, and anyone else is that the goal of having a vote like this is that we don’t need to take action,” said Weiler. “It’s to send a strong message that talks need to be open, honest, and taken seriously.”
The Ontario ministry of education says in a statement: “Our recent deal with CUPE demonstrates what can be done when we use our collective effort to put students first. Our government will continue to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a deal that makes sure students remain in class.”