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Ontario public high school teachers vote in favour of binding arbitration, avoids strike

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Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) says it has voted in favour of a binding arbitration process meaning there will be no strikes or lockouts during negotiations.

The members voted 78.4 per cent in favour of the bargaining proposal.

“The approved proposal provides there will be no strikes or lockouts during this round of bargaining between the government and OSSTF/FEESO as any items that cannot be agreed to at the central and local bargaining tables will be sent to arbitration,” OSSTF said in a release.

OSSTF said bargaining at two central tables will continue until Oct. 27, then any matters that have not yet been settled will be put before an arbitrator.

Local bargaining across Ontario will continue until March 28, 2024, “at which time all remaining items that have not been settled may be sent to arbitration.”

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“For over 14 months, we have tried to engage the Ford government in good faith bargaining but we haven’t had a partner at the table that cares about safeguarding our public education system,” said OSSTF president Karen Littlewood.

“Now we have the opportunity to bypass traditional bargaining pathways to secure a fair collective agreement,” Littlewood said.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said this is a “significant” step towards providing stability for high school students.

“I am very pleased that the members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation have voted in favour of this deal that keeps kids in class,” Lecce said in a statement.

“This will allow students to focus on their studies as our government ensures school boards get back to basics,” he said.

Lecce said he also encouraged other outstanding teacher unions to reach a deal.

OSSTF said the proposal also creates a pathway for members in the school board sector to “receive a remedy for wages lost under the Ford government’s (unconstitutional) wage suppression legislation, known as Bill 124.”