Skip to main content

Ontario elementary teachers take next steps ahead of strike vote

A union representing elementary teachers and education workers in Ontario is taking the next step in its bargaining process ahead of a strike vote in the fall.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said it has applied for conciliation with the minister of labour.

ETFO President Karen Brown said the union’s members are running out of patience.

“Over the past year, ETFO’s central bargaining team has attempted to resolve key issues to secure a fair deal for its teacher, occasional teacher, and education worker members. But after a full year of bargaining without sufficient progress and negotiations at a standstill,” she said in a statement.

Conciliation is a formal mediation process in which a third-party is brought in to work with both sides and help find a resolution.

It’s a common process prior to union members engaging in any strikes or work action.

ETFO has publicly said that it plans to hold strike votes in mid-September and mid-October.

The announcement comes days after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) came to a tentative agreement on a process to avoid a strike. According to ETFO, the agreement includes binding interest arbitration, something they are not prepared to consider at this time.

“Binding arbitration, at this point in bargaining, is rolling the dice with our members’ hard-won rights and entitlements,” Brown said.

“We are hopeful a conciliation officer – a neutral third party - will help us explore all possible options in reaching agreements that are fair for our members, that support the work they do with elementary students, and that strengthen our public education system.”

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said his office is continuing to urge ETFO to come to the table and accept a deal.

“Our government has made every effort to get ETFO to avert a strike and keep kids in class. We first offered ETFO private mediation, and the union rejected it. We then offered a new proposal to keep negotiating and send outstanding matters to a mutually agreed upon interest arbitrator that keeps kids in class and ETFO rejected that too," Lecec said.

"Not even halfway through our negotiation with ETFO today, the union decided to proceed on the path to a needless strike, instead of negotiating a deal that keeps kids in class."

The two Catholic teachers’ unions have also rejected the government’s binding arbitration pitch, which would ultimately put the final bargaining decision on a neutral third party.

If no agreement is made during conciliation, a “no-board” notice will be issued. At this point, a countdown to a legal strike or work action will begin. Top Stories

Stay Connected