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Public elementary and secondary school teachers' unions to hold strike votes this autumn

DAN CEARNS The Standard

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: Elementary and secondary school teachers might be heading to the picket lines this autumn.

In a press release sent out on Monday, August 14th, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced they would be holding strike votes, from the middle of September until the middle of October.

"Bargaining has stalled at ETFO's Education Worker Central Table. At its Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Table, ETFO has repeatedly tried to get the government to talk about important issues, like: improved supports for students with special needs, violence in schools, compensation, fair and transparent hiring practices, workload and working conditions, and smaller class sizes. The government has refused to engage in any meaningful discussions about these education priorities," the press release stated.

In a statement, ETFO President, Karen Brown said, she feels the union has waited long enough for a fair deal.

"ETFO members have been without an agreement for almost a year. They have been patient, but their patience has run out. We need the [provincial] government to take bargaining seriously and to act in good faith, as required by law. ETFO's goal is to reach fair and reasonable agreements without having to take job action. We need the government's full attention on bargaining so we can address pressing concerns in public education."

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is also going to be holding strike votes soon, according to a memo obtained by the Canadian Press.

"It is well past time for this government to come to the table, willing to conclude a deal, to ensure students in Ontario can learn and grow in a world-renowned public education system," the memo stated. "A strong strike mandate will demonstrate our unity and determination to achieve fair and favourable terms for our members and students."

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ontario Education Minister, Stephen Lecce reacted to the actions being taken by these two unions.

"Our government has been bargaining in good faith, meeting over 170 times with all education unions, and are focused on securing a deal [which] keeps [students] in class, provides parents with stability and treats educators fairly. Threatening another strike and creating anxiety for parents and students, just weeks before the start of the school year, is unnecessary and unfair."

His statement added, the government is "available to meet every day to negotiate a deal."

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