Hamilton's public high school teachers may be preparing to take job action on Monday, but one teacher wants the public and parents to know that the union's battle with the province isn't about money.
"It's not about wages," said Colleen Wray, a special needs teacher at Hamilton's Winston Churchill Secondary School.
"We've already agreed to a wage freeze," said Wray, who has been teaching for 27 years.
Rather, explained Wray, the dispute and the upcoming job action planned by Hamilton members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation is about preserving teachers' right to collective bargaining.
"When a government says 'you can't strike, we won't negotiate, you have to take this deal' — that's a slippery slope."
Wray said many teachers are disappointed and feel as if the province has no desire to "seriously negotiate with us."
On Nov. 19, Wray and Hamilton's public high school teachers will make their unhappiness with the province's anti-strike law known.
In protest, teachers will suspend many of their regular administrative roles. Teachers will not attend staff meetings, administer standardized tests on behalf of the Ministry of Education or meet with parents after school.
"We may not be talking to parents at night, but they can contact us in the day," Wray said.
Hamilton teachers also have agreed that they will continue to take attendance, said Wray.
It's going to be "business as usual" come Monday, said Wray. She wants parents to know their teenagers will be getting the same education and will be able to participate in the same extracurricular activities, however.
"A lot of people think we're not going to do our jobs. We are going to be doing our jobs...and this nonsense that the school isn't going to be safe is crazy," said Wray, referring to concerns about how job action will affect school security, which was raised by some boards of education.
Wray said teachers will continue to supervise students both during and between classes and that safety should not be a concern.
The dispute's effect on teacher morale, however, may be more enduring.
"You can only feel you're being bashed for so long and then you have a government say you can't collectively bargain that's pretty demoralizing," said Wray.