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Ontario elementary teachers' union lays out extended work-to-rule action

The Ontario elementary school teachers' union laid out extended work-to-rule plans this morning. Some of the activities union members will not participate in include field trips and responding to 'electronic communication' from principals after hours unless a safety issue is involved.

Teachers won't go on field trips, won't respond to 'electronic communication' from principals after hours

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), says they will have gone without a contract for full year by Aug. 31. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The Ontario elementary school teachers' union, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), laid out extended work-to-rule plans this morning, to loud cheering and applause from union members. 

Sam Hammond, the president of the 78,000-member union, called this 'phase 2' of the work-to-rule action, saying teachers will not participate in a number of activities until they work out a collective agreement with the province.

Hammond said once the school year begins, union members will not:

  • Participate in field trips.
  • Respond to electronic communication from principals and vice-principals after hours, unless there is a safety issue involved.
  • Fundraise for school-related activities.
  • Collect or distribute to students any paperwork required by the school or school board. It's not clear whether or not this includes report cards.
  • Attend open houses or meet the teacher nights outside of instructional days.
  • Participate in board professional development (other than first aid) or training related to board improvement 

By Aug. 31, it will have been a year that they have not had a collective agreement with the province.

Hammond said he will be organizing a "thunderclap message" via Twitter. He also said that if teachers cannot reach a deal in September, they are prepared to rally in front of Queen's Park.

Hammond said his union is "ready and willing" to negotiate with the province, but warned that they will not accept a deal they deem unfair.

"Together we are sending the message to the government and OPSBA (the Ontario Public School Boards' Association) that ETFO members will never allow the erosion of our members' working conditions," he said. "Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions, and if you erode working conditions it immediately and directly impacts learning conditions."

Another Ontario teachers' union, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), which represents public high school teachers, reached a tentative deal with the province today.

Hammond said this may be a sign that the government recognizes the importance of resolving these issues with the unions before the school year starts.

A third union, which represents English Catholic school teachers, is scheduled to resume bargaining Thursday.

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