Avoiding a strike at all costs is paramount

Daniel Caudle

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The crisis of a strike is looming above us, ready for a match to strike the dry kindling, as action in the form of a work to rule began on Nov. 26 as Ontario elementary and high school teachers started their campaigns.

Following months of contract talks which produced very little progress, educators making up the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation began withdrawing their services.

Administration services have been disrupted, report cards will receive no teacher comments, certain meetings will fall by the wayside and local teachers have agreed to participate in the information pickets outside schools following the conclusion of the regular school day.

For those who think this is greed and the pouting for more money from the people who have undertaken the strenuous job of moulding our youth, I can assure you this is not.

Not once have I ever met a more dedicated group of people who have selflessly invested their lives into producing an educated populous, while simultaneously caring so deeply for a group of young individuals who will remain in their lives for such a short period of time.

Teachers don’t take on these job requirements because they get to have summers off. They take on these roles because they want to see a change.

Growing up, my father was a teacher at a high school in Brampton and during his 40-year career he spent his time coaching the school’s football team, attending training sessions and, most importantly, never refusing to stay a bit longer after the final bell to help a student who was struggling.

To this day his former students come up to him in places such as the grocery store to strike up a conversation and thank him for his professional courtesy and respect which helped to mould them into who they are today.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) results for those in favour of a strike was an overwhelming 95.5 per cent, with 92 per cent of education workers supporting a possible walkout.

OSSTF represents 60,000 teachers and education workers across Ontario who have made it clear that the education changes we have seen from the government have been detrimental to the learning of students.

The union must give five days’ notice before any sort of walkout can occur.

A work to rule or a walkout ending in a strike was inevitable following the massive cuts to education as dictated by the former education minister, MPP Lisa Thompson. Only those who live in the most isolated of places in Ontario could have thought that educators would not rise up to reinstate the working conditions, be it through peaceful talks or peaceful demonstrations.

If you don’t support the educators who are shaping your children during this time – just know they are doing this for you. They are undertaking this burden to restore the former manageable class sizes and to get professional workers reinstated who are better equipped to provide assistance to those with autism.

As someone who was affected by the Ontario college strike in 2017, which disrupted our learning for five weeks, I can tell you first-hand how horrendous it is. I still have the emails saved from my professors who begrudgingly shared the news they were to strike and how they desperately wanted a resolution to come forward.

The massive cuts to our education sector have truly left those who still kept their jobs amidst mass layoffs into a fight or flight position. If the action was not to be taken now then it would have been taken in the future.

I support the teachers as they strive to fight for equality in learning for all students, and I understand that the resulting efforts may lead to a strike.

I just hope Education Minister Stephen Lecce can table the talks and keep our teachers where they want to be – in the classrooms.

 

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