St. Marys Journal Argus editorial
Kids at a loss, not knowing if they’ll be able to experience their favourite sporting activity. Parents at even more of a loss, wondering how they’re going to keep their kids away from their cellphones or gaming consoles if the collective bargaining process remains at a standstill.
Teachers’ union work-to-rule? National Hockey League lock-out? Take your pick.
Okay, so trying to draw comparisons between the two in-the-news labour disputes is grasping at straws, given the almost laughable war being presented by both sides in the case of the NHL. Say what you will about the salaries demanded and the benefits expected by this province’s teachers, they’re at least based in the values of fairness that have developed over generations of workers’ rights struggles across Canada. Salaries for top-end (but perhaps not the fourth-line grinder or career minor-leaguer) professional hockey players? Not so much.
And say what you will about Premier Dalton McGuinty’s sudden willingness to side-step those same expectations of workers’ rights in the name of fighting off the fear-inducing deficit pundits. He at least has facts to back his argument that the province is facing a cash crunch. The NHL’s advertising revenue-munching franchise owners? Certainly not.
However, now that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) union has kicked off its “McGuinty Mondays” campaign of work-to-rule (although union officials aren’t referring to it as work-to-rule specifically), the possibility of kids being afforded some extra computer gaming time is upon us. And parents won’t be able to flick on an NHL game to divert their attention.
Avon Maitland School Board-based ETFO members joined teachers from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, as well as support staff — represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees — from the Huron Perth Catholic District School Board at a protest last Friday outside the Stratford constituency office of Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece. According to ETFO local president Merlin Leis, the McGuinty government’s legislation to impose terms and conditions on the ongoing teacher negotiations (current deals expired Aug. 31) “wouldn’t have passed had it not been for the support of” Pettapiece’s Conservative party. So teachers felt it was important to send that message to the MPP — who, Leis commented, was gracious enough to come out and address the gathering, despite some catcalls.
Under the McGuinty Mondays campaign, elementary teachers will not arrive any more than 30 minutes prior to classes, and will not remain at school any longer than 30 minutes after classes are completed. “Meetings (and, presumably, coaching duties) will be scheduled on days other than Mondays,” Leis told the Journal Argus.
“We’re not looking for public support for our terms and conditions. Unions are expected to work in their own members’ best interests,” he said. But regarding the government’s conditions-imposing legislation, “we do think that the public understands that there’s something not quite right”