94.9% of local public-board teachers in favour of strike 0
Simcoe County District School Board teachers cast their ballots during a strike vote on Wednesday night and officials say the results were no surprise.
Of the 1,200 secondary school teachers employed by the board, more than 1,070 participated resulting in 94.9% of teachers voting in favour of a strike.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) bargaining unit president Ian Tudor said the results paint a big picture of how teachers feel about the Ministry of Education and its power hold on bargaining collective agreements.
“It sends a message to the provincial government,” Tudor said. “It’s a strong mandate.”
The results don’t mean teachers will be forming picket lines anytime soon, but Tudor said it does illustrate their collective distain for Bill 115.
“Locally, we’re waiting on further steps from the provincial office as to what’s going to happen,” Tudor said. “There will be job sanctions that will happen if the minister of education interferes with the collective bargaining process as outlined by the ministry of labour and the Ontario Labour Relations Act.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government passed the bill on Sept. 11, resulting in the Ministry of Education replacing school boards as the head negotiating body in charge of bargaining teachers’ collective agreements. An amendment in the bill states any strike action taken by teachers may be considered illegal if it occurs during the two-year anti-strike period outlined in the legislation.
The goal of the vote was to show the ministry how many teachers support a strike and to put a number to how many educators who would walk off the job if a strike becomes a reality.
“We just want to send a message to the government saying here is how we feel and they should give it some serious consideration,” he said. “We want to take action that will put pressure on the government as opposed to students and our legal employer which is the Simcoe school board.”
Teachers with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board joined teachers from other Catholic boards when they signed a memorandum of understanding with Minister of Education Laurel Broten early in the summer and will not be holding strike votes.
The OSSTF recorded 4.9% of teachers are against a strike and 0.2% were spoiled ballots.
The vote was the first requirement teachers need in order to solidify job sanctions. The next step will be to urge the Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer to facilitate meetings with school boards, Tudor said.
“A conciliation officer arranges meetings between parties that will be OSSTF and the school board. Then they will issue a no-report that we’re not close to a collective agreement,” he said. “Bargaining may continue with or without the assistance of a mediator.
“Strike action can commence anytime 17 days after the lapse of a no-board report.”