As contracts expire, teachers continue to bargain

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By Nick Seebruch
As contracts expire, teachers continue to bargain
Teachers protesting outside of MPP Jim McDonell's office on Friday, May 10, 2019 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – After a PA Day on Tuesday, all students in Cornwall and the surrounding area are back at school as of Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Their teachers however, are on the job without a working contract.

The contract between the Ontario government and the teachers unions expired on Saturday, Aug. 31.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) says that it remains optimistic that a strike or any disruption to the school year can be avoided.

“We are still at the bargaining table,” said Michael Hamilton, President of OECTA’s Eastern Region. “We will continue with negotiations as long as they are productive.”

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) which represents highs school teachers has petitioned the Ontario Labour Board to intervene.

“We were not able to come to an agreement at the table,” said Adrienne McEwen, Teacher Bargaining Unit President with OSSTF. “The Labour Board will review the positions of the government and of the union and rule whether they are valid.”

Back in May, teachers were outside of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell’s office protesting education reforms made by his Progressive Conservative government.

These changes included increasing class sizes and cutting some programs.

“The concerns I have and I want the public to be aware of is that it won’t be a cap of 28,” said Dale Fobert at the time, a teacher of 27 years. “A lot of high schools already have 20 to 30 students per classroom. We are looking at an average class size of 40.”

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