May 12, 2015

Peel board to file Ontario Labour Relations Board application to declare local secondary teachers’ strike unlawful

Peel joins Durham, Rainbow district school boards to end strike, return students to class

Today, the Peel District School Board will be filing a joint application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) with Durham and Rainbow district school boards, contending that the local Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) strikes in their districts are unlawful. The three boards believe the local strikes currently underway have been undertaken over matters being negotiated at the central table between the provincial government, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association and provincial OSSTF, and that this is not permissible under new bargaining legislation.  

"We've said, from the beginning, what we know is true: that provincial OSSTF is setting the agenda for local bargaining and that this local strike is part of their overall provincial strategy," notes Janet McDougald, chair of the Peel board. "We've seen secondary teachers in each of the three boards protest issues being negotiated at the central table, particularly the central matter of class size. Our teachers need to know, and our parents and students need to know, that there is nothing we can do at our local table to impact class size decisions—nothing."

Local OSSTF officials have also linked the local strike in Peel to teacher professionalism (autonomy as it relates to instructional practice) and supervision time. Each of these are central bargaining matters—not matters that can be resolved locally. Notes McDougald, "We're calling on the OLRB to rule that the secondary teachers' union waged an unlawful strike to put pressure on the provincial negotiations. This ruling would return Peel, Durham and Rainbow students to their classrooms, where we know they can finish off the school year positively, without further disruption.

"We continue to hear, 'Why us?' from our parents and students—and some of our teachers too. Our students deserve to be back in class, like their peers in our neighbouring school boards. We will do everything we can to ensure this happens.

"As a board, we remain 100 per cent committed to fair negotiations with our unions and federations and are hopeful that we will reach mutually agreeable local settle​ments, on local matters. Our Peel secondary teachers are dedicated, caring professionals, committed to student success. This provincially directed local action by OSSTF doesn't move us forward, and we look to the OLRB to put a swift end to this unlawful strike." 

Regular updates, including a parent/student FAQ, are available at peelschools.org/labour.

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Media contact: Janet McDougald, Chair of the Board, [email protected], 905-278-1402

Reference: Carla Pereira, Manager of Communications & Community Relations Support Services, [email protected], 905-890-1010 ext. 2814​

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