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High school teachers questioning return to extracurriculars

The union president representing local English public high school teachers said he's not sure how many of his members will return to their extracurricular duties.
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Just like when they coach wrestling the team, high school teachers are wrestling with the decision to return to their extracurricular duties. File photo.
The union president representing local English public high school teachers said he's not sure how many of his members will return to their extracurricular duties.

However, James Clyke of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) District 3 Rainbow said teachers' goodwill has been damaged “to such a degree” that they're “really questioning as to whether or not they want to.”

“I can say there's still a large majority of our members that are still quite upset with how they've been treated by the government,” he said.

The OSSTF announced Feb. 22 that its leadership had voted in favour of asking its members to call off their boycott of extracurricular activities.

The job action had been in place since December after a bitter labour dispute with the province which was capped last month with the government imposing contracts on many of Ontario's teachers.

But OSSTF provincial president Ken Coran said at a Feb. 25 press conference he estimates 20 per cent of teachers will likely never return to extracurriculars because they're too upset with the province to do so.

Another 20 per cent didn't support the boycott in the first place, he estimated, while 60 per cent of OSSTF members are waiting for “concrete” and “tangible” results from discussions with the province, he said.

Members of the OSSTF's elementary counterpart, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), are still engaged in an extracurricular boycott. However, the union said they'd make an announcement on the matter by March 1.

Earlier this week, Rainbow District School Board director of education Norm Blaseg pleaded with local high school teachers to return to extracurriculars for the sake of their students.

Clyke said even if his members decide to resume their previous activities, it's not as if things can go back to normal right away.

“Some of the seasons are just about over, some of them are just about to begin, and some of them are halfway through,” he said. “It's not an on-off switch.”

The OSSTF decided to change its stance on extracurriculars because the provincial government appears to be attempting to build bridges with the union, Clyke said.
The two sides have been in discussions for the last few weeks, the substance of which has remained somewhat vague.

Clyke said the talks are definitely partly focused on a better negotiations process for when the teachers' contracts expire in 2014.

However, he said he doubts anything will change with regards to the current contracts, as Wynne has publicly stated she's not willing to reopen them.

“We're in a situation where we're trying to work our way back to some sense of normalcy with regards to collective bargaining,” Clyke said.



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