Teachers and many others held a protest outside Lakehead University on Dec. 9, 2012. Teachers protested Bill 115 because they believe it takes away their right to bargain with the province.
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THUNDER BAY -- Officials with teachers' unions say the Ontario education minister's decision to impose a contract is a huge political error.
Education Minister Laurel Broten announced Thursday that she will impose contracts on members of the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.
The Minister will also repeal Bill 115, which she says has become a "lightning rod" for teachers.
“I would ask everyone, especially teachers, to look carefully at the agreements being brought forward today,” Broten said in a release posted on the minster’s website.
“Our teachers remain among the best paid in Canada and their benefits remain generous. Teaching continues to be a rewarding career for thousands of dedicated professionals, and we will continue to invest in young teachers and reward their academic achievements and experience."
All new contracts are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2012 and will expire on Aug. 31, 2014.
Ellen Chambers, Local president for Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, said the minister approached CUPE and the education president on Dec. 21, yet her own union was never invited to talk.
Chambers argues that the imposed contract leaves the union with few options as it strips the labour organization of its right to strike.
The only option available now appears to be through the ballot box if an election is called.
Chambers promised the union will prove to Broten that she has made a significant political misstep when that time comes.
“It’s not just our rights she’s trampled on,” Chambers said. “I have 76,000 members who have very long memories. She’s very skilled at the political spin. She keeps saying we weren’t willing to talk. That’s a categorical lie.”
Chambers points out that many of the accomplishments the province boasts about, including smaller class sizes, all day Kindergarten, were done through negotiation.
Chambers added she couldn’t go into any details on any further actions taken by ETFO.
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