BREAKING: Niagara Catholic Board will lock out elementary teachers March 20th if deal isn't reached

Niagara's Catholic School board will be locking out all permanent elementary teachers beginning Monday March 20th.

The board issued notice today to the OECTA Niagara Elementary Unit.

The two sides have been in collective agreement negotiations since February of last year and have yet to resolve their differences. 

In September, teachers commenced work to rule actions which the board says are continuing to disrupt the education for it's 14,700 elementary students.

The two sides are set to meet with a provincially appointed mediator on March 6th.

In the meantime, letters will be sent home to all families notifying them that if an agreement is not reached prior to March 20th, that teachers will be locked out.

The board says schools, however, will be open and every effort made to ensure students are in a safe environment but admits programming will be significantly affected.

The board says while every effort will be made to reach an agreement, parents may wish to consider planning for alternate childcare arrangements in the event a lock-out occurs.

Updates on negotiations taking place on Monday, March 6, 2017 and on a possible lock-out on March 20, 2017 will continue to be posted on the Board website at www.niagaracatholic.ca

Here is the full statement:

STATEMENT FROM THE NIAGARA CATHOLIC

DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

Board issues notice of lock-out to permanent elementary teachers

March 3, 2017 - After much deliberation, the Niagara Catholic District School Board decided unanimously and with regret to issue a notice earlier today to the OECTA Niagara Elementary Unit of its intent to lock out all permanent elementary teachers commencing Monday, March 20, 2017 until further notice. Given the lengthy impasse, which has made it impossible for the Board to deliver the highest quality Catholic education experience our students deserve and expect, we believe this action is in the students’ best interests.

Since February 2016, the Niagara Catholic District School Board has been in collective agreement negotiations with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) Niagara Elementary Unit, the union representing our permanent elementary school teachers. In April 2016 the Board reached an agreement with OECTA Niagara Secondary Unit, the union representing all of our permanent secondary teachers. In May 2016, we also concluded an agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Unit representing our support staff.

On September 1, 2016, OECTA Niagara Elementary Unit commenced work-to-rule actions which continue to disrupt the Catholic educational experience for all of our 14,700 elementary students. The expanding list of tasks that the union has directed teachers not to undertake adversely affects our students and their families directly.

Substantial progress has not been made on outstanding items despite twenty-one meetings, involving three different provincially appointed mediators over the last twelve months.

Notwithstanding this action, we remain committed to negotiating an agreement in good faith that balances the interests of our students, teachers and Board and hope that we can do so before March 20, 2017. The next meeting between OECTA and the Board with a provincially appointed mediator is scheduled for Monday, March 6, 2017.

A letter will be sent to all families on or before March 9, 2017 informing them that, should an agreement not be reached prior to March 20, 2017, that teachers will be locked out, schools will be open and every effort will be made to ensure students are in a safe environment, but programming will be significantly affected. While every effort will be made to reach an agreement, parents may wish to consider planning for alternate childcare arrangements in the event a lock-out occurs.

The Board acknowledges the serious impact that the current work-to-rule is having on students and that a lock-out will have on both students and their families. The Board sincerely appreciates the support of families during this very difficult time.

Updates on negotiations taking place on Monday, March 6, 2017 and on a possible lock-out on March 20, 2017 will continue to be posted on the Board website at www.niagaracatholic.ca