Update on Education Worker Strike Action

Ontario’s public elementary school teachers may be on strike on Monday and parents won’t know until Thursday night at the earliest.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) president Sam Hammond told CityNews that the union will decide its course of action and announce it on Thursday, maybe even Friday.

Thirty-two public school boards will be impacted by whatever job action is chosen.

Hammond confirmed that robocalls were sent to elementary teachers on Monday night, apparently saying to prepare for a ‘work-to-rule’ situation. ETFO also provided notice to the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) of it’s intent to take strike action.

A letter was sent home to parents of elementary school children in Durham warning of potential job action.

The union received a ‘no board’ report from the Ministry of Labour on April 24, which will put them in legal strike position this Sunday.

“I’m not going to speculate on what may happen on Monday or what may or may not happen in the weeks to come,” said Wynne. “What I know is we need to get those central deals.”

ETFO said it could begin with incremental strikes, which would target standardized testing, and then they would step it up by expanding their work-to-rule. Eventually, teachers could walk off the job.

Peel District School Board officials said the local ETFO has informed them that work-to-rule will start in elementary schools on Monday.

“Work-to-rule means partial withdrawal of service. Once we know which services are being withdrawn, we will communicate again with families and students,” Peel said in a release.

“We are doing everything in our power to stay at the table, to bring people back to the table and to negotiate and those conversations are ongoing,” she added.

However, the board said elementary schools won’t be closed during the job action. Monday is also a P.A. Day for Peel elementary students.

Meanwhile, the president of the local teacher’s union in Durham said things will escalate, but schools likely won’t shut down next week.

“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest at this time to talk about walking the line right now,” Gerard O’Neill explained. “Our brothers and sisters at OSSTF are on strike and they’re putting the pressure on the government that way. We’ve decided on a different method.”

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) sent a letter to parents of elementary school students outlining what they need to know in advance of possible strike action.

The ETFO represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals and is the largest teachers’ union in the country.

ETFO’s 3,000 designated early childhood educator, education support personnel and professional support personnel members will not be participating in the job action.

Meanwhile, Catholic elementary and secondary school teachers are also in contract talks — their union has voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike if bargaining fails; however, they are not in a legal strike position at this time.

Public high school teachers in Peel, Durham and Sudbury are already on strike.