UPDATE: Union says teacher lockout is ridiculous and could last weeks
Completely ridiculous and it doesn't make sense.
That's how the union representing Niagara's Catholic elementary teachers is reacting to the latest development with the board following a marathon bargaining session which ended with an impasse.
Marie Balanowski, the Niagara Unit President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association joined CKTB News saying she now believes the teacher lockout will continue for weeks.
She says elementary teachers are incredibly disappointed that bargaining has reached an impasse, with the school board remaining intent on stripping provisions from their collective agreement.
Balanowski says they have made several proposals to try to resolve the matter, but the board rejected all of them.
She says the last proposal was an open offer to submit the outstanding items to binding arbitration and in exchange the union would end the work to rule and the board would end their lock out - but she says the board said no.
She says the board could have agreed to binding arbitration this morning but chose instead to punish teachers and students for the foreseeable future by continuing the lockout.
Balanowski says the board's decision means that we will ultimately end up at binding arbitration anyway, but not until students and families have been forced to endure a lengthy disruption and the government will be forced to legislate binding arbitration.
We asked how long it usually takes for the government to legislate binding arbitration and she thinks it will be weeks, but not months.
Balanowski says their proposal of voluntary binding arbitration stands as an open offer to the board should they change their mind.
She wants to remind parents that teachers are being locked out of their classrooms, and that this is not a strike.
Over 850 teachers are impacted by the lockout.
Balanowski says teachers can receive $75/day from the union for standing on the picket lines, but they are not being paid by the board during this time.
Only grievance proceedures remained an outstanding issue at the bargaining table.
When asked if she would send her children to school during the lockout and she said no.
Balanowski says it's still unclear who is watching children and safety is paramount.
She says she understands that some parents are in a difficult situation and this could all be resolved if the board agrees to binding arbitration.
She is encouraging upset parents to contact their school board trustees and senior school administration via phone and email and encourage the board to get back to bargaining.
Balanowski says she has been negotiating contracts since the 90's and has never encountered a bargaining situation like this calling it ridiculous.
You can read the board's statement by clicking here.
You can find contacts for school board trustees by clicking here.