OECTA, OSSTF react to Lecce "amateur-hour" news conference on class sizes, e-learning

Harvey Bischoff - OSSTF


Ontario union leaders were left frustrated by Education Minister Stephen Lecce's news conference Tuesday outlining the government's concessions on class sizes and mandatory e-learning, saying those positions should appear at the bargaining table. 

"The minister once again in another amateur-hour move interrupts that by going to a podium, OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said. "Why doesn't he put that on a proposal?"

The comments came after Lecce announced it would keep average class sizes at current levels and allow opt-out options for parents regarding mandatory e-learning courses, two major stumbling blocks during negotiations. 

But Bischof said it didn't help at all since exploratory talks were going on. 

"Let's be clear again, this is not a proposal, this is a press conference," he said. 

But Lecce told reporters the government had presented the reversals two weeks ago. 

"Two weeks ago, we did not receive an offer like this," OECTA President Liz Stuart said. 

But when pushed on the question on the Rush, Bischof didn't deny the claim, instead calling out Lecce for going to the media. 

"This is exactly why we had agreed that we would have exploratory discussions that would be confidential to the table and it seems that this minister couldn't manage to honour that agreement," Bischof said, reiterating that no formal proposal had been made. 

As for OECTA's planned strike for Thursday, Stuart said it wouldn't be called off. 

"We tried that before," she said. "We are not in a position at this point to cancel job action, until we hear what has to be said, until we see what's been talked about in writing and until we find if there truly is a path forward that will help all of us including the students of this province."

While Bischof railed against Lecce's move to go to the media, he said there is an opportunity to negotiate. 

"Absolutely," he said. "So they should put a proposal on the table and we'll negotiate."