Toronto, ON – Today the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has asked the Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer to help the parties at its two central tables reach fair agreements.
ETFO collective agreements expired on August 31, 2019. Discussions have taken place at two central tables since June 2019: the ETFO Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Table and the ETFO Education Worker Central Table.
While incremental progress was made in July and August, bargaining since then has come to a virtual standstill. At any point during negotiations, Ontario’s Labour Relations Act allows a union or employer to request third-party assistance through a process called conciliation. A conciliation officer will meet with ETFO and school board bargaining agencies to try to help reach central agreements.
“ETFO’s goal is to reach fair agreements for our members that also enhance learning conditions for Ontario’s elementary students,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “These are achievable goals, and ETFO will do everything it can to reach them. That includes participating in the legal steps of the collective bargaining process, like conciliation and taking strike votes.”
“ETFO has been clear at the bargaining table about what we want to achieve,” continued Hammond. “ETFO expects the same clarity from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the government but we’re not getting it on many very important issues at this point.”
“Government representatives at the bargaining table have been asked, point blank, whether the Ford government intends to make funding cuts to elementary education in 2020. All we are getting are evasive non-answers. That is completely unacceptable,” observed Hammond.
During negotiations, the government advised ETFO that it is seeking cuts of up to 2.5% in overall education sector spending. As part of achieving that reduction, the government expects ETFO teacher and occasional teacher members to agree to up to $150 million dollars in collective agreement strips.
ETFO has been holding central strike vote meetings throughout the province, which have been well attended by members. The results of the central strike votes will be announced in early November.
During those standing-room-only meetings, ETFO members have expressed concerns that the Ford government has an agenda to undermine public education by stripping collective agreements, eroding the province’s internationally-recognized Full-Day Kindergarten program and refusing to renew funding that supports Ontario’s most vulnerable elementary students.