The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) held a strike vote, November 18, and received huge support from its membership for a walkout, if there is no satisfaction from the present round of negotiations with the provincial government. Education workers represented by the OSSTF voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action while teachers, both full-time and part-time, gave the union a 95.5 per cent vote of support
“This is a powerful mandate from our members,” stated Harvey Bischof, OSSTF/FEESO president, in a news release issued after the Monday night vote. “And it sends a compelling message. Our members are committed to defending the quality of education in Ontario against a government that is determined to undermine it, and they are absolutely prepared to defend their ability to provide the best possible learning environment for the students they work with.”
While the union has its strike mandate, Bischof stated that the OSSTF/FEESO will continue to negotiate with the provincial government. But he warned that the union’s members are losing patience.
“They are telling us, quite emphatically,” he stated, “that they are losing patience with a government that refuses to engage in meaningful discussion about major issues that affect the quality of learning in their schools. We gave our notice to bargain, almost seven months ago, but we are still waiting for even one meaningful, serious response to our key proposals that address the quality of publicly funded education.”
Ontario’s elementary teachers are also in a legal position to strike, starting on November 25. But the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is also staying at the bargaining table.
The ETFO received its strike mandate from the membership November 8. The union, representing teachers employed with English Catholic schools in Ontario, has also received a strike mandate from its membership. French teacher unions have not declared whether they are also seeking a strike mandate from their members.