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Friday’s one-day walkout is an escalation of work-to-rule strike action by two Upper Grand locals of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which started on Dec. 3.

No elementary school Friday

The Upper Grand District School Board has announced it will close all of its elementary schools this Friday, after the union representing elementary teachers called a one-day walkout for that day.
Local elementary schools – but not high schools – will be closed to students on Friday Dec. 14 and will reopen on Monday Dec. 17, said a board news release Tuesday morning.
Teachers participating in the one-day walkout won’t be paid for that day, said board communications officer Maggie McFadzen.
Friday’s one-day walkout is an escalation of work-to-rule strike action by two Upper Grand locals of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which started on Dec. 3.
In response to that limited strike action, which is continuing, the school board cancelled all field trips until further notice, as of Dec. 3. One of the things ETFO has told its members they can no longer do, until further notice, is participate in voluntary extracurricular activities or in field trips, play days or class excursions.
An ETFO news release Tuesday said regular and occasional teachers at the Upper Grand board will stage the one-day walkout Friday to send the provincial government a message that Bill 115 is severely impeding local collective bargaining.
“There are two solutions to the chaos that the minister of education has created,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in the release.
“Along with repealing Bill 115, the minister needs to step aside and give school boards and ETFO locals the latitude to have concrete and respectful discussions with all options on the table, in order to reach collective agreements,” Hammond said.
Bill 115 was passed by the Liberal government, with the support of the Progressive Conservatives, in September. It gives the province the right to impose contracts if local deals aren’t reached by Dec. 31 or if locally bargained contract agreements aren’t in line with the contents of the bill. The bill largely reflects a two-year deal reached in early July between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which includes a wage freeze, sick-pay cutbacks and other measures, including restrictions on teachers’ right to strike.
“Because of the impositions of Bill 115, our whole democratic process of collective bargaining is being undermined,” Doug Cook, president of ETFO’s Upper Grand teacher local, said in the ETFO news release Tuesday.
Education Minister Laurel Broten “needs to rethink her whole approach to the education sector, because she is causing nothing but chaos,” Cook said.
ETFO represents over 76,000 teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across Ontario. Its Upper Grand teacher local includes 1,287 regular elementary teachers, while its occasional teacher local represents 486 occasional teachers in local public elementary schools.
“Not only has the government taken away local autonomy, it has forced us into strike action to send a strong message to the minister that she is on the wrong track,” Andrew Aloe, president of the Upper Grand occasional teacher local, said in the release.
Collective agreements for all ETFO locals in Ontario expired on Aug. 31. Since then, ETFO members have been working without collective agreements in place.
Both of ETFO’s Upper Grand teacher locals moved into a legal strike position under the province’s Labour Relations Act on Dec. 3.
During a vote on Oct. 3, the locals received overwhelming mandates for strike action from their members, the release said.

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