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Two teachers unions receive strike mandates from their members

DAN CEARNS The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: Two elementary school teachers unions have received the go-ahead from their members to take strike action if deemed necessary.

On Wednesday, October 18th, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced its member teachers voted “95 per cent in favour of central strike action.”

“This strong strike mandate sends a very clear message to the government,” ETFO President Karen Brown said, in a statement. “Our members have been working for over a year without a contract, and their patience has run out. We need the government to stop stalling and start negotiating seriously on our members’ key priorities, like providing more supports for students with special needs, acknowledging the staffing crisis in education, putting a fair compensation offer on the table, and addressing violence in schools.”

However, an ETFO press release stressed that “this strike mandate does not necessarily mean that ETFO members will be engaging in work-to-rule strike action or heading to picket lines at this time.”

ETFO has so far committed to continue negotiations with the Ontario government at the central table.

In a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce responded to the strike vote results.

“Our government has remained at the table to avoid a strike and keep [students] in class. It is extremely disappointing that ETFO has rejected every opportunity to get a deal [which] ensures stability for students and parents, including sending outstanding matters to an interest arbitrator. Instead, ETFO has voted in favour of a strike-mandate that Ontario families do not want or deserve.”

However, Ms. Brown noted in her statement that “with the assistance of the conciliator appointed by the Minister of Labour, [ETFO continues] to work diligently to reach an agreement [which] is fair for our teacher and occasional teacher members.”

One day later, on Thursday, October 19th, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association announced their teaching members “delivered an overwhelming strike mandate, with 97 per cent voting in favour of authorizing strike action, if necessary.”

“Our overwhelming strike mandate sends a clear message to the [provincial] government and the representatives of Catholic school boards that Catholic teachers want to see meaningful progress and results at the bargaining table that address the lack of resources, supports, and time teachers need to best serve their students. As we move forward with our next bargaining dates, the [provincial] government and Catholic trustee representatives need to understand that Catholic teachers- 45,000 strong- are united in solidarity, and prepared to do whatever is necessary to reach an agreement that supports all students, families, and teachers, one that addresses the pressing issues faced in classrooms across the province,” read a statement from OECTA President René Jansen in de Wal.

Minister Lecce responded to this strike mandate news as well on X.

“We stand with parents who insist that their children stay in class without disruption and with the full school experience. It is disappointing that OECTA members have voted to put themselves on a path to strike.”

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