Negotiations continue with a lock out looming

The union representing Catholic elementary teachers and the board will be back at the table again today with a provincial mediator as talks between the two sides continue.

The Niagara Catholic District School Board sending out an update at 10pm Wednesday saying negotiations are scheduled to continue Thursday.

The clock is ticking on a timeline issued by the board to lock out permanent elementary teachers if a deal isn't reached by Monday.

Both sides say they are working towards a deal.

Last time the two sides met, they wrapped up over 24 hours of bargaining without a deal.

The board was responding to questions from concerned parents on social media Wednesday.

Some parents are asking if they will be able to send their children to school in the event of a lockout.

The board responded that schools will be open to students on Monday, and their advice is to be prepared with alternative child care in place if parents do not wish to send children in the event of a lockout.

The board also saying that in the event of a lockout there will be picketing, and there may be brief moments when parents would be stopped as they enter the parking lot.

The board confirming that if there is a lockout, parents will still use the Safe Arrival System to call in absences if parents choose to keep your child at home.

The board did make a comment regarding misinformation in the media, but it did not elaborate.

It says parents should check its website for information.

You can find the link here.

You can read the Facebook post here.

Here is the union's (OECTA) latest media statement sent out Thursday March 9th:

We appreciate the Niagara Catholic District School Board's need to communicate with parents about collective bargaining, but we are disappointed that they have once again chosen to air misleading accusations and analysis. The March 9, 2017 Information Update to parents and guardians is yet another example of the disrespect shown to Niagara's Catholic elementary teachers throughout the bargaining process.   

It is true that teachers are standing firm on some important matters. With regard to the process for filling vacant teaching positions, for example, we are seeking the same fair, transparent process that exists in many school boards across Ontario. We think most people will agree that this is not too much to ask.  

Although teachers understand that extra-curricular activities are important to some students, we simply cannot volunteer further time to support an employer who does not value our professionalism and dedication. We remain committed to continuing with our core duties of planning lessons, delivering curriculum, and assessing student progress. Removing teachers from the classroom would not be our choice. It would not provide enhanced safety for students - in fact, exactly the opposite - and it is not necessary, given our willingness to continue negotiating. Our decision to undertake work-to-rule job action was a measured response to the school board's reluctance to negotiate a fair agreement. It should go without saying that the school board's lockout will have negative consequences for students and parents.   

Despite these most recent actions and threats from our employer, we remain optimistic that we can reach an agreement.