3 school boards want labour board to declare secondary teachers' strike unlawful

Three school boards want the Ontario Labour Relations Board to declare local secondary teachers’ strike unlawful, sending both teachers and students back to class.
Striking teachers with the Durham District School Board picket on April 20, 2015. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

Three school boards want the Ontario Labour Relations Board to declare local secondary teachers' strikes unlawful.

The school boards in Durham District, east of Toronto, Rainbow District, encompassing Sudbury and the surrounding area, and Peel District, west of Toronto, filed an application to the OLRB to end the ongoing strikes on the grounds that they are not permissible under new bargaining legislation.  

The three boards' joint application contends that the local Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) strikes are over matters negotiated between the provincial government, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association and provincial OSSTF — not the union locals. 

"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," said Janet McDougald, chair of the Peel District School 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."

More than 70,000 high school students have been kept from class by the strikes, which began April 20 in Durham, the following week in Rainbow District, and the first week of May in Peel.

This is the first round of negotiations for both high school and elementary teachers since the province brought in a new negotiating system, separating local and provincial talks, with monetary issues being discussed centrally.

The school boards are calling on the OLRB to rule on their application as soon as possible to get students back into their classrooms.

With files from The Canadian Press