With the late-October deadline passing for Ontario’s public school teachers and the provincial government to reach a negotiated settlement, the two sides are now heading to arbitration.
In August, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced it had agreed to terms with the government, should they fail to real a deal, to settle remaining issues through binding interest arbitration, avoiding a strike.
Last Thursday OSSTF president Karen Littlewood said arbitration would be the next step, calling the last two months of bargaining “way more productive” than the previous 14 months, adding the decision of its membership to vote in favour of arbitration “really had an impact on the success at the bargaining table.”
But when that deal was announced, labour scholars and some OSSTF members were critical of the decision, including Larry Savage, chair of the department of labour studies at Brock University, who called the decision to give away its right to strike “confusing.”
“What made the decision of OSSTF, I think, worrisome for people is that the conditions for unions to win major gains at the bargaining table is better now than it’s been in decades,” said Savage. “This seems to be the strangest time for a union to essentially give up one of its strongest levers of power in the negotiation.”