By Michael LoccisanoA strike vote by Ontario’s teachers’ union could take months or even years to complete, as unions and other teachers unions continue to push back against a proposed five-year contract.
The Ontario Teachers Union (OTU) is expected to strike until June 10, when a new contract expires, and teachers will be asked to accept an agreement that includes a salary freeze, more class sizes and a reduction in benefits, but not a pay cut.
If the teachers’ strike goes ahead, it would be the fourth such strike in Ontario in as many months.
In June, the OUP voted to continue a six-month strike that had stalled negotiations with the provincial government.
The unions have been pushing for a longer contract than the tentative contract that the government and unions reached in September, which was negotiated under the auspices of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
The tentative deal, reached with the province and the OSEU, would have given the unions a one-year deal for the first time in 30 years, but it was struck down by a Supreme Court judge.
The new tentative deal has been in the works for nearly a year.
It calls for a wage freeze and a cut in benefits over the first five years of the deal, but the OTEU has been pushing hard for a shorter deal.
The union has argued that this would not be fair to the teachers and that the agreement could be extended beyond five years.
“This is the second time that the OTPU has refused to negotiate an agreement with the government,” said Terence O’Brien, the union’s president.
“This is an attempt to get us to accept this agreement without us having a voice.”
Under the proposed new contract, the unions will have to give up the ability to negotiate over salaries for all teachers.
It also means that all teachers in the province would be eligible for the province’s paid sick days program.
It would also give the unions the ability, through collective bargaining, to negotiate pay for teachers with other unions.
“If the government is willing to extend the term of the contract, this is a fair extension of time to negotiate a fair contract,” said O’Brian.
“It will be a continuation of the work that teachers and students are engaged in, and will allow teachers and the students to move on to the next phase of their education.”
The new contract has already sparked anger in the OTAU.
“We have to keep fighting for fairness,” said Mike McLean, the president of the OTOU.
The OTAUS has called on the government to guarantee all Ontario teachers will have access to their full salary in perpetuity.
The government has promised to implement the new agreement, but has not said how it will do that.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she supports teachers in this strike, and said the OTSU’s strike would be short-lived.
“I support teachers and their right to organize, and I have seen this kind of action before.
It is a tactic of a few.
It will never change the way we do business,” Wynne said.