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Public schools closed Friday as teachers plan to stage one-day protest

Teachers, designated early childhood educators, professional support personnel, and education support personnel across Ontario plan to stage a one-day political protest Friday, Jan. 11 aimed at the government and education minister for invoking Bill 115.

In December, members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) voted 92 per cent in favour of a one-day political protest should the government impose contracts on its members. Education Minister Laurel Broten used her powers under Bill 115 to impose contracts which freezes wages, cuts sick days and eliminates collecting unused sick days at retirement.

Premier Dalton McGuinty warned they would be participating in an illegal strike and that it is the government’s expectation that teachers would be in school Friday “in keeping with their employment obligations.”

The government is to go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board with an application to prevent the action.

The Hastings Prince Edward School board, in the interest of student safety, and in accordance with section 19 of the Education Act, has stated all elementary schools will be closed to students on Friday.

“Our focus remains on student safety, well-being and achievement,” said Rob McGall, Director of Education. “We thank our parents and guardians for their patience and understanding as we work through this complex situation.”

Secondary schools will remain open on Friday and the buses will run, as usual. Secondary school students (Grade 9 to 12) are expected to attend classes.

The board notes that should the situation change between now and Friday, another news release will be sent out.

“The minister made a deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators rather than work towards a respectful solution,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in a media release. “She could have taken our olive branch and waited for a new leader to try and find solutions, but she chose not to.

“Our members are standing up to say that democratic values must trump party politics in this province. What happened to educators must not happen to any other Ontarian. The stain of Bill 115, enacted four months ago this Friday, serves as a permanent reminder of that.”

Ninety-two per cent of more than 46,000 members who cast a ballot in December voted in favour of a one-day political protest should the minister impose contracts using Bill 115. She did so on Jan. 3.

“This protest is aimed squarely at the government and education minister, not those school boards who pursued legal collective bargaining with our locals. It is shameful that the minister tied their hands with the limiting parameters of Bill 115. The government can prorogue the legislature but it can’t prorogue democracy,” said Hammond.

“It is disingenuous for Minister Broten to say that the government has not been able to communicate with the rank and file members of our federation. Our members have heard her, and have responded – not just with the one-day protest vote. They spoke with huge majorities in two other votes to protest Bill 115 when it was enacted last fall.”

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

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  1. fed up says:

    @doubting Thomas– I am my own person, thank you.
    @Mark-you just don’t get it—-it’s a matter of protecting all unions’ rights and the rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms—-as a society, we do need unions, whether right wingers get that or not. I won’t be discussing this further.

  2. Marnie says:

    Really Fed Up, I think Fed Up is a she not a “him”.

  3. Mark says:

    This is really ridiculous for the most. Aboriginals are in a mess, County and provincial food banks are over whelmed. The provincial debt is looming above us like a vulture and will have to be answered by us if not by our children. There are very, very few job oportunities. Teachers are a respected profession. They are well compensated for their work. They have 10 weeks off at summer, 2 weeks at Christmas and a March break. What is it that the Union wants if not more money? Do they want to negotiate to offer something back to assist the less fortunate?

  4. Thomas says:

    @fed-ups & Ken Globe,

    You’re blithering, now what was that they call people who blither, oh yeah…

  5. really fed up says:

    @ Marnie… you’re right, I’m igorant. That’s why I was tryin’ to hook up with fed up, cause you said he was soooo smart. Tried the kraft dinner and mountain dew. OMG you were right, tasted great and made me feel uber gooder. Thanks, I’m gonna dump fed up and follow your great wisdom from now on!

  6. Marnie says:

    Really fed up, all you have demonstrated is your ignorance. If you were trying to be clever you missed the mark. You are not even mildly amusing. Go eat a Kraft dinner and wash it down with Mountain Dew. Maybe it will improve your mood.

  7. Mark says:

    The teachers are allowed to protest but just not on our dime and at the expense of the students! The Ontario Labour Relations Board concluded that what the teacher’s pushed by their powerful union were going to do amounted to an illegal strike action. They can protest after school, on weekends and Stat Holidays all they want.

  8. really fed up says:

    @ fed up… “It is interesting how it mostly the same people complain about IWTs and teachers… Wonder why that is?”… right on brother! I also hear tell that they prefer Pepsi over Coke… play with themselves frequently, prefer opera to country music (yikes) and eat excessive amounts of Kraft dinners. All of these things could be stopped if they only had more schoolin’.

  9. fed up says:

    I think I do. And thanks for the compliment. Have a lovely day.

  10. sharon says:

    1. don’t send your kids to school sick and the teachers won’t get sick.. it’s not daycare its a school try and remember that .. and the activities you all keep forgetting the teachers do this on their own time… Why can’t you people understand its their time … they have children waiting at home for them as well.. They have children that get sick as well..We are certainly in an age and era people thinking they are entitled .Ever look in the schools and see how many kids are sitting in a room sick and their parents won’t pick them up because either they are working or can’t be got a hold of.. (daycare?)
    2. its not about the money but if you want to keep your head in the sand …lets hope your rights are not taken away from you..
    3. we are in a recession you say well hello … read to-days post where your premier is championing to get himself and the mpp’s a pay raise of only $22000.00 each mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm recession you say Look who is at the trough now .
    I think they are should be entitled to protest and that is a freedom we have or maybe now its had in the Charter of Rights .. SAD SAD SAD
    I SUPPORT THE TEACHERS 100% AND NO I AM NOT A TEACHER …

  11. Marnie says:

    We know you are very smart, Fed Up. You must have the answer to this one as well as to everything else.

  12. fed up says:

    It is interesting how it mostly the same people complain about IWTs and teachers… Wonder why that is?

  13. Mark says:

    Yeah Ken. How many trees will have to come down from Ostrander Point to Sandy Hook and beyond to accomodate the mammoth transmission lines? Any idea.

  14. fed up says:

    I suggest you all read the coverage in The Star today.

    btw–for teachers, personal days for family reasons,etc, are largely a thing of the past and have been for quite some time. Similarly, there is also a much smaller chance of getting time off to attend a self initiated learning opportunity,such as an educational conference. Your information is out of date.
    Also, most days when teachers are absent can be accounted for by sports activities for students, or by Board mandated sessions at the Board office. Most would rather stay at school.

  15. Ken Globe says:

    Walkout cancelled, go back to bitching about IWT’s…

  16. Marnie says:

    If the teachers believe that their walk-outs impress people and strengthen their argument they’re wrong. All they do is create ill will. It’s hard to respect people who walk off the job,especially with kids involved, just to make a point. On the other hand maybe this behaviour shows their true colours. It’s all about the money.

  17. Wow Very Sad says:

    This is all intertesing just a quick question wondering what would happen if a NURSE walked away from someone that was depending on them each and everyday to feed them or to help them walk or have a shower eventually terrible things will happen (sad). Another question what is happening when teacher’s are showing there students that walking away from them is better then teaching them!!! Interesting if you don’t like the rules and you don’t like where you work then find something else to do. This is something you can do and defend your rights on your OWN TIME not our children’s. I would never think about teaching my children how to steel but someone is teaching them now to forget about there future and there learning. VERY VERY SAD

  18. SAB says:

    I don’t know about others, but when I went to school, it was the rare time we had a substitute teacher, now my children seem to have them at least once a month…..Is anyone policing why and when the teachers take time off….teachers not only have sick days but a number of personal days too….I guess that is why some parents (those who can afford to or have access to) are transferring their children to private or catholic schools.. I am sure most people feel as I do, if my children are not getting what they need, I will do everything in my powere I can to see they do.

  19. End the Madness says:

    They have changed the name from a ‘strike’ to ‘political protest’ – why, because it it illegal to strike. If I refuse to go to work it’s called insubordination and is grounds for dismissal. The teachers unions are advocating an illegal job action and any teacher taking part should have their employment terminated. Teaching our children to do as I say, not as I do. Our education system is funded by the taxpayers, this is not private enterprise. Teachers are public servants. Valuable yes. Irreplaceable no. If you don’t like your job, your pay, your hours, please feel free to find another vocation or enter the private sector. Deny my children the education I pay for, I hope the government comes down on you with everything at their disposal.

  20. Marnie says:

    Oh quit posturing fed up. You are not the only person who knows the meaning of “unequivocally” and it was not necessarily a teacher who imparted the definition of it to those of us today familiar with the word. There is a wonderful book they call a dictionary.

    Teachers should not live and work on minimum wage but what makes them so exalted? Many people have good educations. I think a fair wage would be just about right. You make it sound as if teaching is the only profession that demands tremendous dedication, the only job that requires hours of after-class work at no pay. Get real. There are lots of people out there doing equally important jobs and giving of their own time to help others. Not all of them are receiving the salaries and perks our “poor” teachers get.

    You ask why those of us who complain about teachers did not go to university and follow the profession. I can’t speak for the others but personally I found a calling that I felt was equally rewarding although it did not pay as well from a monetary standpoint. Today I am not enjoying a teacher’s pay cheque but neither am I whining and complaining about being sadly done by. I never did like violins. By the way, why is it that the noble teachers have chosen to walk out on a Friday? Could it be that they are anticipating a long weekend?

  21. Mark says:

    No the teachers do not pay a much larger proportion. The contributions are matched equally between the teacher and the taxpayer. They do not exceed 15% of base earnings above the annual CPP limit.

  22. SAB says:

    I also believe teachers are special, but not all teachers! Have you ever heard of a teacher being fired, except for sexual or abusive actions….In private industry, if you are not good at your job, the employer will let you go. As a taxpayer would you pay a lawyer, doctor, etc. if you were not happy with the job they were doing for you?

    I agree Bill 115 is not a particularly popular or even good Bill, but what is the government (taxpayer) to do if they want to decrease the deficit, if everytime the unions do not get what they want they call for a strike.

    As far as full time kindergarten, I believe most teachers do not agree with it. Do most taxpayers know that a child who will be 4 by Dec 31 is entitled to enroll. I have heard it said that it is a cheap babysitting situation. Many children of this age are still having occassional problem with toiletry situations. Are we willing to pay teachers to change pants (even if they would because of the threat of being sued for improper touching). If it was me I would not, unless there was another adult with me, now the taxpayer is paying for two people to change a childs pants. Has anyone else heard kindergarten teachers say “I am the best paid babysitter?

  23. fed up says:

    yes,employers contribute to all pension plans. However, teachers pay a much larger proportion into their pension plans than any other group that I know of.

    Marnie: apparently you need remedial spelling class–
    And are you suggesting that teachers should live and work on a minimum wage? Then why would anyone want that job?

    @ all complainers: If you think teachers are so privileged why didn’t you attend university and teachers’ college?

  24. Mark says:

    So Lana you are trying to tell me that the employer (taxpayer)did not contribute a matching contribution to the teachers pension plan? Come now, let’s deal with real facts. Check it out.

  25. Lana Latchford says:

    Mark: Your comment “Their pension plan is one of the richest in the land funded by taxpayers” is totally wrong. My husband was a teacher for 35 years and I did the bookeeping. Every pay cheque he was deducted the fee for pension. The taxpayers did not pay it, he earned his salary everyday he went to work and paid for his pension deduction out of the money he earned. So please, get your facts straight!

  26. Marnie says:

    It’s time for teachers to realize that they are not all that special. I had a couple who could not even spell and one of them was an English teaacher. It’s about the money and all the rest is smoke and mirrors. It was not that long ago that being a teacher did not have much status attached to it. The pay was not great and teachers lived modestly. Then the unions got into the act and now teachers have every perk going. Suddenly, they are fighting to protect our rights. It’s supposedly a noble struggle to defend priniples and freedom. Fortunately I had teachers who taught me not to be dumb enough to fall for an act like this. I don’t see heroes. I see greedy people who should be smart enough to know that in these economic times the money is just not there. They should also realize that this fight is not doing much for their image. They are not fighting for my rights, they are fighting for their own pocketbooks.

  27. fed up says:

    I support the education workers unequivocally. (If you know what that word means, thank a teacher.)
    A lot of negative comments about teachers seem to come from some personal grievance.
    What particular axe are you grinding, and how long have you been grinding it? What does it have to do with a union brave enough to protect democratic rights?
    And yes, they are protesting on your behalf, as well. Do a little honest research before exercising your educated writing skills.
    And stop ignoring the fact that all education workers, not just teachers are involved in this struggle against the erosion of our hard earned rights.

  28. Mark says:

    When they say it isn’t about the money, it is about the money. This is being pushed by the union. More money more union power. When have the teachers contributed significantly towards the financial woes. Their pension plan is one of the richest in the land funded by taxpayers. They hated the conservatives under Mike Harris and ran to the liberals. They are well compensated and need to face economic realities.

  29. Rob says:

    SAB, teachers upgrade on their own time and at their own expense too. Sick banks, negotiated for in lieu of vacation pay, are being paid out at $0.10 on the dollar, but only to those 10 years or higher. Still, it has been very clearly stated that IT IS NOT ANOUT THE MONEY. Any Bill which contains barriers to the Labour Laws and Canada’s Human Rights policies needs to be knocked down. Who will be next? Me? You?

  30. SAB says:

    I am sorry but most people who work in the business world take home work & work much more than a 40 hr week….Our upgrading is done on our own time at our own expense not during regular work hours, I am not saying this is right, but if you want to keep your job you do it to enable to make your quotas that most companines set for their employees….This may not be the case for empoyees who are covered by Unions, but then their wages & benefits have put their companies in jeopardy ex. car manufactures, as the teachers salaries have become an expense that the tax payers are unable to sustain. As for banked sick days, my understanding is that those who have 10 years with their school boards will not loose those days, they will have to take a pay out at retirement. Also most people working in the private work force are expected to participate in local groups, community affairs, etc. This is all recorded in your annual performance reviews and the expense of belonging to these groups is not covered by their companies, but come from the employees pockets

  31. Gordon says:

    I am curious Bill. Do you volunteer for any programs to help youth. Are you a Scout Leader? Do you volunteer to teach Hokey? Why don’t you volunteer to help at a youth center? If the answer is no then you might want to reconsider your remarks because that is what teachers do every day without compensation. The fact that you are entitled to write what you did is the result of people fighting for you democratic rights of freedom of expression.

  32. C.Todd says:

    Are teachers paid well, given a great benefit package, and work in an industry that will never have them in fear of their jobs being “phased” out??
    Yes, definitely….and it’s something they’ve never once denied.

    Our educators protesting Bill 115 is NOT about, and has never been about, a wage freeze! Yes, that’s part of what is in Bill 115 but our educators have AGREED to a wage freeze…and they did so quite some ago.

    As for what this teaches our children…it teaches them to stand up for their rights!! It is unethical for an employer (whether it is a company or the government) to take away their employees right to bargain and protest if they feel something isn’t fair in their job. I hear and see over and over and OVER statements on how we should teach our children to stand up for themselves, their rights, other people’s rights…so why are we so upset when our educators do it?

    It is unethical to wipe out years and years of banked sick days, especially because they will never be compensated for them. Are banking sick days a thing of the past? Sure, most companies don’t allow it anymore. So the ethical thing to do is put in place a clause in their contracts that states going FORWARD it’s no longer allowed, but to completely remove everyone’s days they have already accumulated is wrong.

    Most people work at their job for the required number of daily hours for which they are paid, and then go home and do what ever they want with their time.

    Our educators put in their full days, then take hours of work home with them. Whether it’s marking tests or papers, preparing booklets for the next day’s science unit, or cutting out paper shapes to make that craft for Mother’s day they do it after they leave work. Oh, and with the current budget restrictions if a teacher does a certain craft etc, they usually end up buying the supplies from their own pocket and aren’t ever reimbursed. Every day they must have a lesson plan written down, and these are usually done a few days in advance. That way if that teacher is sick, the supply will know what to do with the class the following day.

    Would you work a job that required you to bring home a few hours of extra work each day, buy your own supplies, plan out your daily activities, and log them in writing for the whole work week??

    Our educators give countless hours weekly and monthly to our students with NO EXTRA PAY. The teacher that plans the talent show, the Christmas concert, coaches sports after school hours, or plans and chaperones the March Break trips…they do all of those activities on THEIR OWN TIME. They aren’t paid overtime or compensated in any way. If it’s a March Break trip then that teacher is on “duty” 24/7 for the whole trip, and they’re taking on a huge responsibility by taking care of YOUR children in a different city or country. Guess what?? They don’t get paid for extra for that!

    Are you dedicated enough to your job to buy supplies without being reimbursed and give up that much of your own time without being paid extra?

    Yes, you can argue that our teachers don’t HAVE to do all this extra stuff…but then you’d be complaining they don’t do enough! Plus, the teachers that do these extra things do it because of their dedication and passion for their jobs, the belief that they CAN and ARE making a difference in our kids lives…and they do it every day and don’t ask for rewards or accolades.

    They only ask that they be able to keep their DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, so really who are you to deny them that?

  33. Rob says:

    You can’t seriously blame the teachers for what’s lacking in the schools? If it weren’t for them, there would be NO music, art, no programs of any kind! There would be no breakfast program. They aren’t fighting for pay raises. They are fighting to take down a government that has put itself above the laws of our country – the freedoms my grandfather fought to preserve 60 years ago. Teachers don’t force students through – the ministry does. Bill, you ask who gives these children their sense if entitlement? Read over your inflammatory comments, look in the mirror, and you’ll have your answer. You cannot have a government that allows a country to be a democracy only in the good times. If they can pass this law, they can pass any law. I’m sure the Germans thought nothing of the little law that didn’t allow Jews to eat in their restaurants or use their washrooms. Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but it’s a slippery slope, my friend.

  34. SAB says:

    Well. at least the school boards will save 46000x a minimum of $200(average teachers per day salary)…But again the kids are with one less day of classes, and I guess the government will not pay the school boards $’s for schools who do not open for students to attend….by the time all the paper work is done no one wins….If the government were to remove bill 115, what would the teachers reason for striking be….I understand it is not because of salary freezes and everyone must realize the banking sick days is a thing of the past…at first the teachers said they did not think it was fair that teachers at the bottom of the grid would have their salaries frozen, but I am sure I read in the papers that they decided later that it was okay for the government to take that stand……..Who really are the teachers protecting…..I am sure I also read that if the salary freeze was not initiated and full day kindergarden cancelled, 10000 teachers would loose their jobs, again the teachers at the bottom of the grid. Again I ask, who are the unions protecting?

  35. Bill says:

    So who is going to win, the union or the government?
    We do know for a fact that the children LOSE.
    lost school activities, like leadership programs, a real music program, a real arts program, a real sports program, social skills being tossed aside.
    76,000 members strong, be happy you have a paycheck, there are lots of people that are working two or three part time jobs just to cover most of the bills each month.
    Education is so important, it gives the recipient power, power to choose a better career, power to know right from wrong, power to be proud of accomplishments, power to pass on what has been learned to others.
    What is this really teaching our children…. Fight for democracy by hurting and limiting the ones we are supposedly fight for????
    We are in a recession that is moving to a depression where work is so scarce people have to leave their home towns to find work else where, Fathers have to leave family’s for work so they can give their kids a hopeful better life. If you truly want to teach, then do so. Start by accepting the fact that we are not financially as strong as we were once before and work with what you have to help teach the children to make it better for generations to come. Walking out, protests and limiting activities will only hurt the ones that need it the most.
    Teachers were once proud to give a little more, help a struggling student, mentor to new teachers, assist and win goals by making stronger students, now kids have this entitlement attitude and guess who taught them that.
    If teachers are entitled to have more then the children in which you teach are entitled to have even more, are you prepared to give more to the kids that really do need the social programs, the sports, the feeling of being empowered with knowledge or are the entitled to think there smarter, faster, better and in truth are not because you just passed them on to the next years teacher to pass them along till they leave the education system and then realize that they are lost to the system.

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