What to expect with upcoming job action in Mississauga schools

 

Tensions between the province and multiple teachers' unions are heating up as both parties work to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

While it is not yet certain if teachers will strike, three major unions have voted overwhelmingly in favour of possible strike action and one union will be commencing job action (which is not a strike) next week. 

Last week, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) confirmed that job action will begin in public elementary schools across Ontario on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. 

In the Peel District School Board (which operates schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon), ETFO members include elementary teachers and occasional teachers, resource teachers and instructional coordinators. 

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is also in a legal strike position but has not yet announced any job action in Ontario’s public high schools. 

The PDSB says the OSSTF must provide boards with five days’ notice in the event it decides to take job action.

In the Peel board, OSSTF members include secondary teachers and occasional teachers, resource teachers and instructional coordinators, and psychoeducational consultants, social workers and speech-language pathologists.

Teaching assistants and early childhood educators are in a separate union and are not engaged in any job action at this time.

So, what can parents and students expect going forward? 

The PDSB says all Peel schools and locations will remain open to staff and students during ETFO job action. 

Since the ETFO will be commencing work-to-rule next week, elementary school students in kindergarten through to Grade 8 will be affected. That said, the ETFO says its job action will target the Ministry of Education and school board administrative tasks that do not impact students. 

For example, as of Nov. 26, ETFO members will not participate in professional learning outside of the instructional day, attend staff/division/grade team meetings, or engage in EQAO-related activities. 

The PDSB says the ETFO has also asked members to meet outside of their workplace entrances and to enter together at the start of their workday. 

Students and parents may notice them outside Peel board schools and locations. Elementary teachers will continue to provide their scheduled supervisory duties.

The ETFO has also directed elementary teachers to not complete term 1 report cards, outside of providing the school administrator with a class list of marks for subjects/strands taught and one comment per frame for Kindergarten Communication of Learning. 

The PDSB says this work is undertaken in January ahead of report card distribution in early February. 

"If this job action remains in place at that time, we will communicate the impact to families then." 

The province says it's hoping to reach a deal soon.

"While our government has been a reasonable force and student-focused at the bargaining table, the labour unions continue to take escalating steps towards strike action. Strike action could mean school closures, disruption, and uncertainty for students and parents," Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, said in Nov. 18 statement.

"Today, I am offering all education sector unions the option to enter into mediation. I believe this is the right step, as mediation involves an independent third party to assist the unions, trustee associations, and the government in reaching settlements."

Teachers' unions say the government must reverse course on proposed cuts to education and pledge to do more to combat violence in schools in order to reach a new agreement. 

To find out the status of labour action in the Peel board, visit www.peelschools.org/labour. 

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