Negotiations ongoing between ETFO and provincial government


Negotiations between the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the provincial government are ongoing. 

ETFO members representing teachers have been meeting with the province over the week of November 6, with another day of negotiations planned for this week. 

Mario Spagnuolo, local President of the Greater Essex ETFO, says that provincial executives have met with local ETFO presidents across Ontario for discussions on next steps, strategies, as well as priorities in negotiations. 

He says that ETFO still doesn't believe that binding arbitration is in their best interest, and on October 18 teacher and occasional teacher members voted 95 per cent in favour of strike action.

If talks between the two parties derail, the process would end with a no-board report which would trigger a countdown to a strike. 

Once the no-board notice is given, the union will have to wait 17 days before teaches could legally walk off the job.

Spagnuolo says these bargaining conversations have been difficult. 

"We obviously have a government that is not investing in education. So it's a really difficult set of negotiations, and teachers in the classroom are anxious to get a collective agreement. They've been working without one for over a year now."

He says the union is still against going to binding arbitration. 

"We believe we should be negotiating a collective agreement at the bargaining table, and using the bargaining process to the fullest extent. And hopefully the government will realize that we're serious about what we're asking for is an investment in public education because that's what the students deserve."

Spagnuolo says members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if it comes down to it. 

"We haven't hit stalemate or an impasse with the government, although some days it probably feels like that we haven't actually, technically, gotten there. But when we do, then it's 17 days after a no-board report where we'll be in a legal strike position. Historically the past practice has been to start with a work-to-rule, that does not mean that's what we're going to do this time, but that has been the past practice."

Education worker members with ETFO ratified a central agreement on October 18. 

Education worker members with ETFO also joined the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in an arbitration process for Bill 124 wage remedy on October 31. 

ETFO represents approximately 80,000 public elementary teachers and occasional teachers, and 3,500 designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel.