Local Catholic Teachers on the Picket Line Today

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45,000 members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association are on the picket line.

They're holding a one-day, province-wide strike to back demands in a new contract with the provincial government.

There are 1,800 Catholic teachers in Windsor-Essex.

Local OECTA President, Joe Brannagan says nobody wants to be out on the picket line but his membership does not want to see cuts to public education.

"There was a strong mandate from our members, over 97%, that we're going to support our provincial bargaining team and we're going to support what everybody else in the education sector is advocating," he says.

All four major teachers' unions are engaged in job action as they negotiate new collective agreements with the Progressive Conservative government.

The unions say that class sizes and cuts to services are the roadblocks in bargaining, while Education Minister Stephen Lecce insists they're stuck on wages.

Brannagan says support from the public has been amazing.

"I've been out to many of the OSSTF {Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation} picket lines, on the two occasions they were out. It was quite heartening and exhilarating to be out on some of the major streets and people are honking," he says.

Local OECTA members will have picket lines set up at Assumption College Catholic High School on Huron Church Rd., Catholic Central High School on Tecumseh Rd. E., St. Joseph's Catholic High School on Clover Ave., Christ the King Catholic Elementary School on Grand Marais Rd. W. and Saint Louis Elementary School in Leamington.

As a result of the strike, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has closed all of its elementary and secondary schools.

Classes will resume Wednesday.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is also continuning a series or rotating strikes Tuesday.

Boards targeted by the OSSTF include the Toronto District School Board, Rainy River District School Board, Simcoe County District School Board, Near North District School Board, Grand Erie District School Board, Trillium Lakelands District School Board and Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is also striking at the Grand Erie and Trillium Lakelands boards, as well as the Renfrew County District School Board and the Superior-Greenstone District School Board.