ETFO Limestone educators plan united front for one-day strike

As the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) continue rotating one-day strikes, those with the ETFO Limestone local are planning to come together at different picket lines as they participate in tomorrow’s strike.

Members of the Limestone ETFO will participate in a one-day strike on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, “to pressure the Ford government’s education minister to get back to central contract talks,” the local division of the union said in a press release on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

“We know that this is a hardship for parents, but it is crystal clear that to date, Ford’s Education Minister Lecce is only interested in cuts to education,” said local president Jane Roberts. “We are asking parents to stand with us to protect the future of public education. The programs we are fighting for today will have an impact on the education of students now and in the future.”

Teachers and parents who chose to participate will gather at different schools throughout the Limestone District School Board area for two different shifts during the strike day. The ETFO moved into a partial withdrawal of services and a series of rotating one-day strikes after the union tabled revised proposals in December of 2019. Those proposals called for smaller classes where students get the help they need, more resources for students with special needs, protection of Ontario’s Kindergarten program, and fair compensation for educators. According to the ETFO, government negotiators have not responded and have set no dates for future talks.

“Since late December, Education Minister Lecce’s team has shown no interest in returning to contract talks to discuss key issues affecting students, student learning and educators,” Roberts said. “A strike is the only means for educators to force the government to get serious about negotiations and the future of public education.”

Members of the Limestone ETFO will join members of the Greater Essex, Near North, and Upper Canada locals to participate in the strike. The collective agreements for all ETFO members expired on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, and, in November, 98 per cent of ETFO members gave their union a mandate for strike action should it be needed during ETFO’s central bargaining negotiations.

The ETFO has also indicated that it will be escalating its provincial rotating strikes beginning on Monday, Feb. 3, should central agreements not be made by the end of this week.

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