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Ontario English Catholic teachers vote 97% in favour of strike mandate

Strike mandate sends 'clear message' that union wants to progress at bargaining talks, OECTA says
Oct. 20, 2023

A second Ontario teachers union has now taken a step toward a possible strike, with members voting overwhelmingly in favour of job action, if necessary, to spur movement at the bargaining table.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association announced Thursday that 97 per cent of its members voted to support a strike mandate.

"Our overwhelming strike mandate sends a clear message to the Ford Conservative government and the representatives of Catholic school boards that Catholic teachers want to see meaningful progress and results at the bargaining table that address the lack of resources, supports, and time teachers need to best serve their students," president Rene Jansen in de Wal wrote in a statement.

For now, the union will continue negotiating, he said.

"The Ford Conservative government and Catholic trustee representatives need to understand that Catholic teachers -- 45,000-strong -- are united in solidarity, and prepared to do whatever is necessary to reach an agreement that supports all students, families, and teachers."

The news comes a day after the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario announced its members voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike, though there are no plans yet for job action.

The bargaining process with the four major teachers' unions started nearly a year and a half ago, but both ETFO and OECTA say progress has been slow.

The union representing public high school teachers has agreed to a bargaining process with the government that will see the parties keep negotiating until Oct. 27 then send any outstanding issues to be resolved by arbitration, eliminating the possibility of a strike.

But the other unions have rejected that pathway.

Minister says OECTA strike mandate 'disappointing'
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he continues to call on those other unions to accept binding arbitration and avoid strikes.

"We stand with parents who insist that their children stay in class without disruption and with the full school experience," he wrote in a statement.

"It is disappointing that OECTA members have voted to put themselves on a path to strike. We've already reached a fair deal with one of the largest teacher unions to keep kids in class, and we urge that OECTA does the same by coming to the table, signing a deal, and committing to keeping kids in class."