Why is ETFO escalating strike action?
ETFO has been bargaining with the Ford government and school board bargaining associations for over five months, and there has been virtually no progress at the bargaining table on substantive issues. During our last bargaining session on December 19, 2019, ETFO was advised in clear and unequivocal terms that the government’s bargaining team:
- does not have the authority to negotiate any additional funding to deal with classroom violence. This is a message that our concerns about how growing classroom violence is affecting students, our members and the learning environment are of no concern to the Ford government and will not be addressed.
- has not accepted ETFO’s proposal that funding needs to be renewed for special education and specialist teaching positions to support early years special needs, Indigenous students, “at risk” students and English Language Learners. This means hundreds of specialist teaching positions our most vulnerable elementary students need, and that were cut this year by the Ford government, will not be restored.
- does not have the authority to entertain discussions about Kindergarten, Junior or Intermediate class size changes. This means large class sizes, which negatively affect the learning environment of elementary students, are here to stay.
- does not have the authority to negotiate professional time for ETFO’s DECE, ESP and PSP members. This is a message from the Ford government that the skills and professionalism of our education worker members is not respected, or even considered worthy of discussion.
- does not have the authority to negotiate a cost of living increase to compensation and benefits. This will result in a significant reduction of members’ benefits, as well as an erosion of members’ salaries, over the life of the next collective agreement.
In addition, the government’s bargaining team:
- continues to demand that ETFO teacher and occasional teacher members agree to up to $150 million in reductions to public elementary education spending;
- continues to demand that ETFO remove any language in local collective agreements that puts limits on elementary class sizes;
- has not accepted ETFO’s proposal that the current Kindergarten model be maintained; and
- continues to propose the elimination of fair and transparent hiring practices for occasional teachers.
Negotiating with this government has become an exercise in frustration. There does not seem to be any interest on the government’s part to arrive at a fair agreement.
ETFO members have tried to send a message through our current WTR that the government needs to get serious about bargaining a fair agreement that’s good for our members, for students and for public education. The Ford government refuses to hear the message, which leaves us with no choice but to escalate strike action.
Why are we striking field trips and voluntary extracurricular activities taking place outside the regular school day? Isn’t there something else we could do, instead?
Teachers and education workers derive great satisfaction from connecting with students through field trips, coaching teams, running clubs, etc. We love participating in these activities as much as our students do. We also recognize the value field trips and voluntary extracurricular activities bring to students’ educational experience.
But we also recognize the core educational experience of our students rests on:
- being able to learn in safe classroom environments that are free from violence;
- having reasonable class sizes where they can get the one-on-one attention they need from teachers and education workers; and
- ensuring there are enough trained professionals on staff to support the needs of our most vulnerable students.
In addition, it is the knowledge, skill and professionalism of ETFO’s teachers and education worker members that have made Ontario’s elementary public education system one of the best in the world. What our members bring to their classrooms and schools every day has value, and that value needs to be recognized. That means maintaining our members’ salaries and benefits – not eroding them, which is what the Ford government wants to do.
For months, ETFO has worked very hard at the bargaining table to make this government understand the implications of their refusal to bargain in a manner that respects our members and supports students. They will not listen, and they’re playing games.
We are now giving them a choice:
- Stop playing games.
- Participate in bargaining process in good faith.
- Work with ETFO to arrive at fair agreements at our Teacher/Occasional Teacher and Education Worker Central Tables by January 17, 2020.
If the government refuses to bargain fairly, then ETFO members will engage in a full withdrawal of services through rotating strike action, starting January 20, 2020.
Would a public relations campaign get the government to move at the bargaining table?
ETFO has been conducting large-scale Building Better Schools
public campaigns for over a year about the Ford government’s devastating cuts to public education and around protecting Ontario’s internationally-recognized Kindergarten programme. Those campaigns have been very effective in garnering public attention and support. But the campaigns haven’t helped move the government at the bargaining table. The government is still bargaining from a position that, if accepted by ETFO, would mean student supports would be cut, the health of our public education system would be threatened and our collective agreement entitlements would be eroded.
We can’t let those things happen.
The last tool – and the most effective tool – ETFO members have to put pressure on this government is our ability, together, to withdraw services. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this point. But the government’s inaction at the bargaining table has left us with no choice.
It’s now up to the Ford government. If it really wants to, the Ford government can prevent further strike action by taking bargaining seriously and working with ETFO to arrive at agreements that are fair for students and our members.
I have questions about rotating strike action that will be taking place as of January 20, 2020, should agreements at the Teacher/Occasional Teacher and Education Worker Central Tables not be reached by January 17, 2020. Where can I get answers to my questions?
ETFO stewards, as well as executive members of ETFO teacher, occasional teacher and education worker locals, will be attending local training sessions between January 13, 2020, and January 24, 2020, regarding full withdrawal of services. After attending their local training sessions, stewards will be holding information meetings at their schools/worksites with members to review preparations for full withdrawal of services and answer members’ questions.
In addition, on January 13, 2020, Central Bargaining Bulletin #15 will be forwarded to ETFO members through local communication channels. Central Bargaining Bulletin #15 will include answers to frequently asked questions about strike action, including potential full withdrawal of services.
Can I invite a consultant/coordinator/facilitator/coach to work with me in my classroom during Phase 3?
Yes, individual members may request that a consultant/coordinator/facilitator/early years facilitator/coach work with them in their classroom during Phase 3.
Where can I find a copy of ETFO’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 WTR Strike Protocols?
All WTR strike protocols, and all Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) issued regarding those strike protocols, are posted on this website in the section called “ETFO Strike Action.”
The principal has organized monthly character assemblies. Every member of staff is assigned to organize one character assembly during the school year. Is the character assembly scheduled for January 2020 considered to be struck work?
As of January 13, 2020, ETFO members will NOT plan or organize assemblies. They may attend assemblies to supervise students.
VOLUNTARY EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Am I able to take students to extra-curricular activities that take place outside of my school?
No. All extracurricular activities must take place at the member’s school and must take place during the school day as it has been defined. During Phase 3, members cannot participate or supervise students at events that take place at a different school or location.
The Phase 3 WTR states that members may participate in extracurricular activities if they are scheduled within the regular school day. What does that mean?
The regular school day is comprised of:
- the 300 minute instructional day;
- nutrition breaks; and
Is the homework club or school intramurals taking place during lunch hour considered struck work under Phase 3 WTR?
Extracurricular activities conducted during the regular school day (i.e., the instructional day, recess, lunch hour, nutrition breaks) may continue.
Can I hold indoor track and field practice before or after school?
No. This is an extracurricular activity and would be considered struck work as of January 13, 2020.
Can the Grade 3 Swim to Survive program continue?
Yes. Swim to Survive would be considered part of the curriculum.
Can Scientists in School activities continue?
Yes. Scientists in School would be considered part of the curriculum.
Can the recycling club continue during nutrition breaks?
Yes, extracurricular activities conducted during the regular school day (i.e., the instructional day, recess, lunch hour, nutrition breaks) may continue.
Can I take my students to the community rink for skating during Phase 3?
No. Skating trips are considered field trips and as such they become struck work now that the work-to-rule has progressed to Phase 3.
Who tells parents if a field trip needs to be cancelled?
It is your principal/supervisor’s responsibility to advise parents that a field trip has been cancelled.
Can an ETFO member in an occasional position be hired to go on a field trip?
No. This is struck work for both permanent and occasional ETFO members as of January 13, 2020.
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE FROM SCHOOL/WORK SITE
I am an ETFO member in a part-time position. When do I arrive and leave work under the Phase 3 WTR?
An ETFO member working in a part-time position would arrive at work 30 minutes before their regular work day begins and would leave work no later 15 minutes after their regular work day ends.
Our school has an evening open house scheduled, can I participate during Phase 3?
No, ETFO members cannot participate or plan any activity that would take place outside of the restricted hours (i.e. 30 minutes before instructional day and 15 minutes after the instructional day) during Phase 3.
REPORT CARDS: GENERAL
Can you remind me what our job action around report cards looks like?
Effective Tuesday, November 26, 2019, ETFO members will
- NOT complete Term 1 Report Cards – teachers WILL provide the school administrator with a class list of marks for the various subjects/strands taught, or one brief comment per frame for the Kindergarten Communication of Learning;
- NOT undertake the role of report card administrator;
- NOT file the Progress Report, the Term 1 Report Card or the Kindergarten Communication of Learning.
My principal/school board has created an electronic spreadsheet for report card marks/Learning Skill ratings for Grades 1 to Grade 8 teachers at my school. They asked me to complete my report cards on this spreadsheet and return the marks electronically. Should I do that?
No. You should submit students’ marks on a printed document (i.e., hard paper copy) to administration. As part of our WTR strike action, ETFO members should not be submitting electronic documents with report card marks or comments to their principal or vice-principal.
Some subjects are taught by other teachers at my school. Do I have to collect the marks from each teacher and submit one class list that has marks for all subjects to submit to my principal?
No. Each teacher would submit a separate class list of marks for only the subjects that they teach.
Do we submit letters for the Learning Skills to our principal?
Yes, members who teach Grades 1-8 should submit, to the principal, a paper class list that includes only grades for subjects and ratings (E,G,N, etc.) for the learning skills.
I had entered a few comments and marks into the electronic report card template before WTR started. Should I leave the comments/marks in the template or delete them?
Members who entered data into the electronic report card template for Term 1 before the start of the WTR should save and print a copy to keep themselves. Then, they should delete the data from the electronic report card template.
What if ETFO ESP members are directed by their principals to help with preparing report cards? What should they do?
ETFO members who are ESPs are not able help with report cards because it is struck work.
What do I do if my principal asks me to sign the Provincial Report Card/Kindergarten Communication of Learning?
During the WTR, members should not sign report cards/Kindergarten Communication of Learning. The principal/vice-principal will be responsible for signing them.
REPORT CARDS: KINDERGARTEN COMMUNICATION OF LEARNING
In the past, I have had to write my comments for the Kindergarten Communication of Learning based on the headings in Growing Success. Do I have to do that for the one BRIEF comment in each section during our work-to-rule?
No. Kindergarten members may write a BRIEF comment of their choice for each frame without being restricted by the headings in Growing Success.
My principal/school board has created an electronic template for me to record the one brief comment per Frame for each student on the Kindergarten Communication of Learning. They asked me to complete my brief comments on this template and return the comments electronically. Should I do that?
No. You should complete your brief comment per frame in a text document with a class list, such as Word/Excel, and submit a paper document (i.e., hard paper copy) to administration. As part of the WTR, ETFO members should not be submitting electronic documents with comments to their principal or vice-principal.
IEPS, ESL/ELD AND EXEMPTED STUDENTS
Should I print and sign IEPs and hand them in to principals/vice-principals for inclusion in the report card during our WTR?
No, members should update IEPs in the IEP engine only. Members should not print or sign IEPs for report card purposes. This will be the responsibility of the principal/vice-principal because this work is related to report cards therefore are part of our WTR and is struck work.
I have a student who is exempt from a specific subject? What do I do?
Members should write Not Applicable or N/A in the box where grade/comment would go on the class list.
When submitting my class list of marks or one brief comment, how do I indicate a subject was taught in French?
Members should write the word French beside the grade for the subject or BRIEF comment on the class list.
When submitting my class list of marks or one brief comment (i.e., for Alternative Report Card/Kindergarten Communication of Learning), how do I indicate a student has an IEP that applies to a particular subject/strand/frame?
Members should write the letters IEP beside the grade (grades 1-8) or comment (Kindergarten and Alternative Report Card) for the strand/subject/frame on the class list.
When submitting my class list of marks or one brief comment (for Alternative Report Card and Kindergarten Communication of Learning), how do I indicate a student has modified curriculum expectations in a subject/strand/frame to support English language learning needs?
Members should write the letters ESL/ELD beside the grade (grades 1-8) or comment (Kindergarten and Alternative Report Card) for the subject/strand/frame on the class list.
How do I complete the Alternative Report Card during our strike action? Do I complete them in the IEP engine or do I hand in the information on a class list?
If marks only: Members should provide marks only, on a paper class list, and submit to the principal. They should not complete the Alternative report card through the IEP engine.
If comments: Members should hand in a paper class list to the administrator with one BRIEF comment per section of the Alternative Report Card. They should not complete the Alternative Report Card through the IEP engine.
If space for marks and comments: Members should provide marks only, on a paper class list, and submit to the principal. They should not complete the Alternative report card through the IEP engine.
The Alternative Report Card I use for some of my students with special needs is anecdotal only, we do not assign grades or marks – should I hand the principal a blank sheet of paper?
In situations where members ONLY complete an anecdotal Alternative Report Card with no grades, levels, etc., they should hand in a paper class list to the administrator with one BRIEF comment for each child per report card section.