Teacher contract talks hit impasse this weekend

October 7, 2019

The union representing high school teachers was at the negotiating table with the province this weekend, but those contract talks have hit an impasse and are now off.It’s confusing because there are so many unions representing different groups of teachers and all of them are having difficulty negotiating with the province.This week Halton and Ottawa high school teachers started job action by wearing white shirts and jeans to work and refusing some administrative jobs.Public elementary teachers across the province are also working to rule, so this year’s standardized testing for grades three and six students will not take place.In Peel, Durham and Sudbury, public high schools are closed and teachers have been on picket lines for weeks. That could spread to other school boards. But those are local strikes. The talks that broke down this weekend were at the central bargaining table, on main issues for all the public high school teachers in Ontario.As the Union Vice President, Harvey Bischof has been spending most of his time at that table. He’s not hopeful about the next step, conciliation, because the mediator who has been working with the two sides was very experienced and still unable to find common ground.So the union will request a no board report, and get ready for a legal strike position.But this school year is almost over , so if teachers walk out en masse, it likely won’t be until next September. Bischof doesn’t think public high school teachers will be alone on the picket lines.The province has been talking about forcing striking teachers back to work to save the year for 70 000 students who have been out of school for as long as a month.Bischof said he expects that legislation will be tabled as early as tomorrow.

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