October 26, 2012
Ont. teachers to expand job action Nov. 7
By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief
TORONTO - Ontario's public high school teachers are being told not to participate in standardized testing or after-hours parent meetings.
A bargaining alert posted on the website of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) says job action for units in a legal strike position will begin Nov. 7.
In response, Education Minister Laurel Broten on Friday reminded the teachers' association that she has the power to impose an agreement and end a strike.
OSSTF has ordered regular and occasional teachers not to attend or organize staff and department meetings or conduct co-op visits outside of regular school hours.
Professional development day activities, Education Quality and Accountability Office testing and the completion of annual learning plans will be crossed off the list too.
E-mailing parents after school hours will not be allowed.
Local bargaining units will decide if teachers should submit student attendance, collect textbooks or participate in end-of-year school activities.
The OSSTF is in a battle with the Dalton McGuinty government over Bill 115, which mandates wage freezes and a reduction in sick-day benefits for teachers, calling it an assault on free collective bargaining.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has already advised its members to meet only the minimum requirements in filling out fall report cards.
Broten said in a statement that she's concerned the OSSTF's proposed strike actions, such as targeting EQAO and literacy testing, will put education gains at risk.
"The Putting Students First Act allows for local bargaining to continue until Dec. 31, 2012, and I encourage all local unions, including OSSTF, to keep negotiating at the local level to reach agreements instead of resorting to strike action," Broten said.
"The Putting Students First Act gives the government — through cabinet — tools to intervene in the case of strike action."
Bill 115 allows the minister to impose an agreement, if local deals can't be reached, and also to stop a strike and put teachers back to work.
"At this point, we are monitoring closely to see how local unions operationalize job actions and will assess options," Broten said.