School board addresses possible teacher strike action

Both the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario have announced job action will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.

The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) wants parents and students to know that no changes to student learning should the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) take strike action next week.

The ETFO represents elementary teachers, and has indicated that job action will begin with a partial withdrawal of services on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, should an agreement not be reached in the interim.

“This means elementary teachers across the province, including here in Limestone, will be withdrawing administrative duties such as not attending professional learning sessions, not participating in school improvement planning, or in Board activities outside of the instructional day,” the LDSB said in a press release.

“It is important for families to know that there will be no impact on student learning, delivery of the curriculum, student progress reports, or extracurricular activities offered at LDSB schools during this phase of the work-to-rule campaign. Schools will remain open, and classes will continue as scheduled.”

According to the ETFO, the partial withdrawal of services, or “Phase 1 Work-to-Rule Protocol,” means that EFTO members are to do the following should an agreement not be reached before Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019:

  • NOT participate in any school board or Ministry of Education professional learning offered outside of the instructional day (including online or face-to-face professional learning);
  • NOT participate in activities related to the Fundamentals of Math Strategy;
  • NOT participate in any Ministry of Education online training or webinars;
  • NOT participate in any EQAO-related activities;
  • NOT participate in any way in the development of the Math Proficiency Test for faculty of education students;
  • NOT complete any surveys/data collection activities (except for what ETFO members deem is necessary for their own reporting requirements, as per PPM 155);
  • NOT attend meetings (online or face-to-face) with Ministry of Education Achievement Officers;
  • NOT participate in school board activities on Professional Activity (PA) Days – ETFO members will work in their assigned worksites on their own self-directed activities;
  • NOT attend staff/division/grade team meetings;
  • NOT undertake the role of ‘Teacher in Charge’ (unless remuneration is specifically provided for this role in the local collective agreement);
  • NOT participate in school board/school improvement planning activities (BIPSA or SIPSA);
  • NOT respond to electronic communications from the school administrator/direct supervisor for non-school-based staff, outside of the instructional day (unless for reasons of personal/student safety, an OT accepting work, or support for students with special needs);
  • NOT undertake the role of divisional chair/team lead (unless remuneration is specifically provided for this role in the local collective agreement);
  • NOT participate in any school board committee (with the exception of School Council, staffing committees, labour management committees or health and safety committees);
  • NOT participate on any school board writing team or in school board curriculum/resource development;
  • 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.
  • CONTINUE to focus on and support the learning needs of students;
  • CONTINUE to maintain contact with parents regarding students;
  • CONTINUE to provide scheduled supervisory duties; and
  • CONTINUE to wear red on Fridays (or Thursdays, depending on local practice) in support of public education and participate in collective actions to demonstrate solidarity.

At the same time, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has also voted in favour of strike action and announced on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019 that they, too, will begin job action on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

ODSSTF’s education workers voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action, and the Federation’s teacher and occasional teacher members provided a 95.5 per cent strike mandate.

“This is a powerful mandate from our members, and it sends a compelling message,” said OSSTF President Harvey Bischof in a press release. “Our members are committed to defending the quality of education in Ontario against a government that is determined to undermine it, and they are absolutely prepared to defend their ability to provide the best possible learning environment for the students they work with.”

The OSSTF said that, if/when strike action begin, members will not perform the following duties:

  • Participation in EQAO preparation or testing
  • Completion/Submission of Ministry of Education Data Reports
  • Participation in School Board Professional Activities that are based on Ministry of Education or School Board Initiatives
  • Participation in unpaid staff meetings outside the regular school day
  • Providing comments on any secondary provincial report cards

According to the LDSB, OSSTF represents over 700 education workers, including secondary school teachers, occasional teachers, professional student services personnel, and community education instructors. Negotiations between the union, government, and school board associations are currently on going.

“Please be assured that our focus remains on student achievement and well-being and therefore we will work together with all our employees to ensure that learning and safety are not compromised,” the Limestone District School Board said.

“The LDSB remains hopeful that agreements with OSSTF and ETFO can be reached before any job action comes into effect.”

The Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board will not be impacted by the potential job action of either union.

“Teachers within the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board are represented by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA). There are four teacher unions represented in Ontario, so please note that one union’s labour actions does not affect all teachers,” the school board said in a press release on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

To find out more about OSSTF’s bargaining status, click here.

For more information on ETFO’s collective bargaining, click here.

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

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