An empty classroom. (Photo by Wokandapix from Pixabay)An empty classroom. (Photo by Wokandapix from Pixabay)

Public elementary school teachers begin strikes votes on Monday

Over the next month, 83,000 members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario will participate in a strike vote to back their demands in contract talks with the Ontario government.

The strike vote, held during in-person meetings across the province, starts on Monday and will wrap up on October 17.

President Karen Brown said members will get an update on bargaining.

"Given the unacceptably slow pace of bargaining and the ongoing, daily challenges our members face, we expect a strong strike mandate coming out of our central strike vote," said Brown.

Brown also stressed voting in favour of provincial strike action does not necessarily mean ETFO members will head to the picket lines.

"A strong strike vote will help ETFO communicate to the Ford government that they must get serious about bargaining," she said. "While we are now working with a conciliator to help us explore all possible options in reaching agreements that are fair for ETFO members, central strike votes are another tool we can use to help us achieve the best working conditions and learning conditions possible."

The union said since filing for conciliation, there has seen some progress at its Education Worker Central Table and Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Table. Brown would like to see more progress.

"The best chance of getting government cuts off the table and getting the improvements ETFO members and students need is to give the legal bargaining process a chance," said Brown. "That includes participating in the legal steps of the collective bargaining process, like taking votes and conciliation."

ETFO members with the Upper Grand District School Board vote on Monday, September 18, at the River Run Centre in Guelph. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. Votes will be cast between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

At the Greater Essex County District School Board, members will vote on Thursday, September 28, at 4:30 p.m. at the Ciociaro Club.

On Monday, October 2, Lambton-Kent District School Board members vote at 4:30 p.m. at the Hiawatha Horse Park.

The vote is Thursday, October 5, for Thames Valley District School Board members. Registration starts at 4 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens, with the meeting to follow at 5:30 p.m.

At the Avon Maitland District School Board, the vote is on Thursday, October 2, at 4:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Community Centre and Arena.

Bluewater District School Board members will vote at the Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound on Wednesday, October 11. Registration starts at 4:45 p.m., with the meeting at 5:30 p.m. and the vote at 8 p.m.

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