Last September at the Labour Day Picnic in Riverside Park, there were already signs that it was going to be a long year at the province’s schools. The contract with all four teachers’ unions in Ontario had expired, and the Ontario government was in no mood to approve new spending or pay raises for teachers and other school workers employed at our Catholic and separate public schools. That was only the beginning.
This week on the podcast, we’re going to talk about the end with two leaders of the local branches of our teachers’ unions. What began with an expired contract on August 31, exacerbated by legislation limiting raises by one per cent in October, and accelerated with rotating strikes in the winter, ended rather anticlimactically once schools closed because of COVID-19. With weeks, all four teachers’ unions secured a new contract in March. So what are the leaders of the unions thinking now?
This week we’re joined by Mark Berardine, the president of Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) Wellington, and Jennifer Hesch, the president of the Upper Grand Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). In separate interviews, they talk about the process, the negotiations, and the eventual deals. They also talk about the various tactics employed by the teachers’ unions, and how they were able to hang on to the support of parents. And they’ll discuss what the unions have learned from dealing with the Ford government, and whether or not they would still be striking now if it weren’t for COVID-19.
So let’s recap this year of labour strife at school on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
Note: Paul Rawlinson, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 18 was invited to take part in this podcast, but he did not respond before press time.
You can stay up to date with the latest developments on any subject concerning your local school boards, be it teachers contracts or COVID-19 developments, by connecting to their websites. Click here for the Upper Grand District School Board, and click here for the Wellington Catholic District School Board.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.