Thunder Bay

Teachers unions rally in Thunder Bay against proposed bill

Members of four Thunder Bay unions are rallying today over the government legislation that would impose contracts on Ontario teachers.
More than 250 union members and supporters rallied in Thunder Bay against a proposed government legislation that would impose contracts on Ontario teachers. (Jennifer Keiller/CBC)

Members of four Thunder Bay unions are rallying today over the government legislation that would impose contracts on Ontario teachers.

The president of the Lakehead Elementary Teachers Federation, Ellen Chambers, says the government is disregarding collective bargaining rights with this move.

"Whether you belong to a union or not, it sends a message that workers don’t count and that the process doesn’t count," Chambers said. "That’s the way I look at it and I think it’s a very scary thing."

Eighth grade teacher Linda Poulin was one of many speaking out about against the bill. (Jennifer Keiller/CBC)

Approximately 250 members of the local unions: ETFO, OSSTF, CUPE and COPE will attend a noon-hour rally at 435 James St. at the satellite offices of the Ministry of Education in the government building on South James Street the same day other groups of teachers are expected to gather on the lawn of the Queen's Park in Toronto.

"The draft legislation goes well beyond any general wage restraint legislation or back to work legislation previously enacted in this province," a release by the unions read.

"It singles out for legislated wage restraints a particular group in the public sector, and gives Cabinet, rather than the Legislature, the right to restrict strikes and lockouts."

But the Liberal government says freezing teachers’ wages is necessary as the province tries to pare back a $15-billion deficit. The bill is likely to become law as the Progressive Conservatives have agreed to support it.