By: Neetu Thind
“McGuinty Mondays” have begun, marking another chapter in the collective bargaining saga between teacher unions and the Ontario government.
The work-to-rule approach which launched Monday is the newest initiative put forth by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to fight Bill 115 ‘Putting Students First,’ which includes a no-strike clause for two years and freezes wages.
In a video posted on the Control Your Future website, Sam Hammond, the Federation’s president, explained what the initiative would entail for teachers.
“We are asking you to push the pause button on participating in meetings of any kind before, during, or after the instructional day on Mondays,” said Hammond.
Teachers are also being asked to consider not participating in extra-curricular school activities in the wake of an enforced contract.
“Teachers have been backed into a corner,” Lisa Mastrobuono, EFTO collective bargaining spokesperson, told Humber News.
The Monday meeting restrictions and elimination of extra-curricular supervision are being proposed on a voluntary basis.
“We are not allowed to tell teachers what to do,” said Mastrobuono. “We are just opening up doors for them to make individual choices and point out what is voluntary and mandatory work for a teacher.”
“McGuinty Mondays” and refraining from extra-curricular activities throughout the week are some of the limited options available for teachers to make their voices heard, said Mastrobuono.
She said the problem began when teacher unions were presented with a finished collective agreement that government wanted signed without negotiations or a vote.
With the passing of Bill 115, teachers are no longer allowed to vote on their contracts, going against the Labour Relations Act, said Mastrobuono.
“We’ve been let down and bullied by government, ” Daryl Jerome, a science teacher who has taught at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Hamilton for nine years, told Humber News.
“McGuinty Monday’s” should not have a big impact on students, Edi Fisher, a fourth grade teacher, told Humber News, but it could be helpful to teachers to show they are serious about negotiations.
This practice has not been adapted by public high schools, said Jerome, who is also a union representative.
Going forward, it would be best to return to bargaining between school boards and teachers, said Jerome.
“When McGuinty says they have hit a rough patch in the bargaining process, it is underestimating the situation,” said Jerome. “He totally ruined everything.”
“The best thing that could happen moving forward would be to repeal the bill and start a meaningful collaborative discussion,” said Mastrobuono.