Stew Slater, St. Marys Journal Argus
Secondary school teachers in the Avon Maitland District School Board will begin limited labour sanctions next week, with the board’s elementary teachers expected to follow suit on Dec. 3.
“Some of the things that this might include will be supervision outside of the classroom,” explained Avon Maitland communications manager Steve Howe.
That means “management, other non-union people, and administrators” will be called upon to take on additional duties, along with the possibility that other personnel will be called in from the board’s Seaforth administrative headquarters.
The move comes a week after secondary school union locals in about 20 other Ontario school boards moved into a legal strike position and began similar sanctions.
Howe stressed “there are no extra-curricular activities included in (the high school teachers’ union’s) sanctions. So sports and clubs will not be affected.”
He added the Avon Maitland local of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) — as in other boards across the province — has indicated “they will not withdraw supervision that will impact a student with special needs.”
Some elementary schools within the board are also being affected because the OSSTF not only represents high school teachers, but also divisions which represent office, clerical, Early Childhood Education, and education assistant specialists who work in elementary schools.
Employees represented by the Avon Maitland local of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO), meanwhile, will be in a legal strike position — barring a deal between the union’s provincial negotiators and Ontario’s education ministry — effective Dec. 3.
“We have established a special page (www.yourschools.ca/job-action-updates) on the board’s website, where we will be providing regular updates on the impact of any job action on our schools and/or students,” Howe stated in a news release. “Please note that the Avon Maitland District School Board is committed to keeping its schools functioning as normally as possible in the event of any job sanctions, and to maintaining a safe school environment for our students.”
Other sanctions for teachers include abstaining from professional development activities, not participating in Education Ministry-led initiatives, and not communicating with parents outside of regular school hours.
For office and clerical staff represented by OSSTF, sanctions may include not handling money that has been raised through school fundraisers. Teachers’ unions have been without collective bargaining agreements with the education ministry since Aug. 30.
In September, the Ontario Legislature approved a bill that imposed terms and conditions on any future agreements with the unions; that bill is currently facing a legal challenge on the basis it contravenes teachers’ rights.