CENTRAL STRIKE VOTES: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Monday, August 14, 2023
NOTE: New FAQs will be added to this section of ETFO’s CB Website throughout September and October. Please check back frequently for updates.
I heard ETFO is holding province-wide votes. What is the voting about?
ETFO provincial office, in concert with ETFO locals, is holding member information meetings after work where central strike votes will take place.
ETFO’s decision to take central strike votes was announced by President Karen Brown on Monday, August 14 at approximately 4:30 pm at ETFO’s 2023 Annual Meeting. ETFO provided the information to members in several ways:
- On the morning of Monday, August 14, ETFO members received a Collective Bargaining (CB) eNewsletter with a link to the livestream of President Brown’s address. Members were encouraged to watch the livestream.
- Immediately after President Brown announced central strike vote meetings, ETFO members received a CB eNewsletter with strike vote information; and
- From about 5 pm to 9 pm on Monday, August 14, ETFO sent a text message to members’ mobile devices announcing strike vote meetings and encouraging members who wanted more information to visit ETFO’s Collective Bargaining website at etfocb.ca.
ETFO also issued a media release and posted information on social media about the central strike vote immediately after President Brown’s announcement.
One central strike vote or two?
ETFO is holding two central strike votes simultaneously following in-person meetings:
- one teacher/occasional teacher central strike vote for our teacher and occasional teacher members; and
- one education worker central strike vote for our DECE, ESP, PSP and other education worker members.
Where are the central strike votes taking place?
ETFO is organizing central strike votes across the province. These votes will be conducted in-person during all-member information meetings held after work, starting in mid-September and continuing into October.
In most locations, ETFO members working for the same school board (teachers, occasional teachers, DECEs, ESPs, PSPs, etc.) will attend the same meeting, hear the same information, have their questions answered and then participate in the central strike vote that is relevant to their occupation.
When will my central strike vote meeting take place?
Central strike vote meetings will take place after work. We will be scheduling meetings starting in mid-September and into October.
The specific date and time of your central strike vote meeting will be determined by your local and the provincial office. Your local should be sending you more information about central strike votes during first week back at work in the 2023-2024 school year.
As of Tuesday, September 6, 2023, you will also be able to check this website’s Strike Vote Calendar for information about central strike vote dates, times and locations. The Strike Vote Calendar will be updated on an ongoing basis as locals finalize their meeting details.
Why is ETFO conducting central strike votes?
During her Annual Meeting opening address, ETFO President Karen Brown outlined the reasons why ETFO is holding central strike votes. To read President Brown’s opening address, click here.
ETFO also issued a media release announcing central strike votes.
In addition, members will be provided with a bargaining update and the reasons that ETFO is taking central strike votes at strike vote meetings. At the meeting, members will have an opportunity to ask questions prior to participating in the strike vote.
Will the media/public be able to attend our central strike vote information meetings?
Member information meetings about bargaining-related issues are confidential to members, which means only ETFO members may attend such meetings.
Can I cast a strike vote ballot online?
While ETFO has conducted many of its tentative central agreement votes online, strike votes are a different matter.
It is ETFO’s practice to hold strike votes at in-person meetings. This is the best way for members to be fully engaged in a very important decision in the bargaining process. An in-person strike vote allows members to ask questions of their leaders, debate the issues and discuss the implications of the vote with colleagues.
Is proxy voting allowed for central strike votes (i.e., can another member attend the meeting and cast a ballot for me on my behalf)?
The Labour Relations Act requires strike vote ballots to be “cast in such a manner that persons expressing their choice cannot be identified with the choice expressed.” Therefore, to maintain confidentiality of a member’s voting choice, proxy voting is not permitted during ETFO strike votes.
What is legally required for a strike vote to pass?
The Labour Relations Act establishes rules for taking strike votes.
In order to authorize strike action, more than 50% of those who cast ballots must vote in favour.
Why is ETFO taking central strike votes now?
Holding a central strike vote is part of the legal bargaining process spelled out under Ontario labour laws. This process allows members to make a decision and set direction for their bargaining team.
Generally speaking, a strike vote is called by a union when the union feels it needs more leverage at the bargaining table. Getting member support for bargaining priorities through a strong strike vote can put pressure on the other side to negotiate in good faith and take union members’ priorities seriously.
Many unions take strike votes during the course of bargaining, or even before bargaining begins. Strike vote timing is determined as part of the overall bargaining strategy. Bargaining strategy varies from union to union or from one round of bargaining to the next.
A strong central strike vote is a way for ETFO and ETFO members to signal to the government and school board bargaining agencies that the union has the support of the membership to negotiate their priority issues and defend quality learning and working conditions.
When will ETFO release its central strike vote results?
ETFO will release central strike vote results to members after all strike vote meetings have taken place and the results have been compiled.
ETFO members will receive the results by email in a CB eNewsletter first, before any information is shared publicly.
Does a strong strike vote result mean ETFO members will be going on strike?
Holding a strike vote is not an automatic trigger for job action. In accordance with labour laws in Ontario, there are several other steps that must occur (e.g., impasse, conciliation, “no board” report, etc.) before legal job action can even take place.
ETFO negotiates for agreements, not strikes. No union wants to take job action, but a strike can occur when both sides are unable to reach an agreement. Even so, a strike is always seen as a last resort and is only used when bargaining reaches a stalemate (also called an “impasse”).
A strong strike vote does not necessarily mean ETFO members will be commencing strike action. Strike votes simply convey to all the parties involved in bargaining the degree to which ETFO members want to see a fair deal being reached.
How can I stay informed about bargaining developments?
ETFO provides frequent and timely bargaining updates to members through:
- ETFO’s Collective Bargaining eNewsletter, which members receive directly from the Provincial Office by email;
- ETFO Central Bargaining Bulletins, which are delivered to members by their ETFO Local through local communication channels (they can also be found in the Member Section of ETFO’s main website at etfo.ca);
- Voicemails from ETFO’s president;
- Texts from ETFO;
- Social media accounts, like ETFO’s member-only Collective Bargaining Facebook Group;
- Correspondence delivered to members’ homes via Canada Post; and
- Information in ETFO’s monthly and special steward mailings.
I’m not receiving the CB eNewsletter. What do I do?
If you are not receiving the CB eNewsletter, you may have inadvertently unsubscribed, or we may not have a current email address on file for you.
Email ETFO’s Member Records Department at email@example.com. In your email, please include your ETFO Member ID Number, as well as your current contact information (first/last name, address, telephone numbers, email). Member Records staff will make sure your contact information is accurate and you are subscribed to the CB eNewsletter.
I’m not receiving Central Bargaining Bulletins from my local. What do I do?
Check with your ETFO local about how it makes the provincial office’s Central Bargaining Bulletins available to members.
Where can I can get more information about the upcoming central strike vote in my area?
- Contact your ETFO local during the first week back from summer break;
- Use the “Contact Us” option on this website to submit questions you have about the central strike vote.