Both the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 9 (OSSTF) and the Greater Essex Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) state that Bill 115 denies educators and support staff basic democratic rights, – namely, the right to bargain collectively.
According to a press release issued by both teachers’ federations “The Bill shields the government from Ontario labour laws, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the courts” and is “being challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.”
Adeline Cecchin is the President of the Greater Essex ETFO and she explained that the lunch pickets that happened across Windsor & Essex were part of their “continued political message to this government about repealing Bill 115.”
“Bill 115 completely bypasses what’s outlined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act in terms of what the collective bargaining process should be at local levels,” commented Cecchin, adding, “What they’re saying is ‘we’re going to impose and the bill is going to do be doing this, these financial parameters, within contracts, on all of our elementary teachers’”
Shevon Krause teaches grades 7/8 at John Campbell and she explained that she opposed the government’s attack on her professional integrity and teachers’ basic charter rights. “I stand with my fellow teachers and union members to prevent further deterioration of the respect that I feel that all teachers deserve for the work that they do outside of their classrooms and the personal sacrifices that they make to do so.”
“We have recognized the fiscal reality that exists here in Ontario and we have never said that we would not accept a wage freeze,” stated Cecchin, adding, “What our [political]fight is about [is a] process that exists under the Ontario Labour Relations Act that has been recognized [and used] for years and is the voice of union at the table, and we’re asking that that be respected in this round of negations, as opposed to legislating our voice away.”
Krause emphatically made clear that this job action was not related to salaries and rates of pay, but rather, about the erosion of democratic rights: “I don’t even feel like I’m walking for my salary today. I am walking to protest the fact that such swift actions have [been] taken to remove things without due process.”
While Bill 115 would allow for the government to effectively stop any strike in its tracks, Krause opposes such measures because “many people have fought long before today to ensure [those rights], and if we set the precedent that that can be changed, so unilaterally, then it will just continue from there.”
While Krause feels support from her friends and family, she conceded that the majority of support came from her fellow union members because she feels “that there is not enough awareness. All the things that are being said about it being about salary, I think that there is still some educating for us to do in the community to make sure that people really understand why we’re out here and what we’re doing.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.