Thames Valley secondary school teachers support strike mandate (update)
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
Two thousand members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in District 11 (representing educators in the Thames Valley District School Board catchment area), have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate at meetings held this week.
The members are part of the Teacher Bargaining Unit, the Occasional Teacher Bargaining Unit and the Professional Student Services Personnel.
Colleen Canon, district president, said strike vote results indicate 95 per cent of these employees are supporting the union in its fight against Bill 115 — legislation that two-year wage freeze and curbing their collective bargaining rights — which was introduced late August.
“The government has called it a wage freeze Bill, but it’s not,” Canon said. “We’re opposed to the Bill — it’s undemocratic, unconstitutional.
“What we’re still trying to do is get the government to stop interfering in the (collective bargaining) process and allow us (unions) across Ontario to bargain locally with our school boards.”
The contract between these OSSTF members and the school board expired on Aug. 31 and the province has given until Dec. 31 to come up with a new agreement.
While the strike vote was mostly about members’ opposition to the Bill, Canon added it also means educators stand behind the union as it works “to achieve a good deal for them.”
“We have a lot of ideas for how to meet their (the province’s) fiscal targets, but it’s a matter of doing that at a table, not by just legislating us — that’s the point,” Canon said. “If they (the province) allow things to move forward, I would hope that before the end of the year, we have an agreement.”
She stressed this action doesn’t mean the union is threatening to strike or withdraw extra-curriculars.
OSSTF, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.
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