stage to send a message to both the government and OPSBA about the unacceptable strips. The rally was an important opportunity to demonstrate that the education unions were standing in solidarity against the employer-side demands.
Rallies Targeting Ontario Liberal Party and OPSBA Meetings
On two back-to-back weekends in June, the Ontario Liberal Party and OPSBA held their respective annual general meetings at the Blue Mountain resort in Collingwood. While the ETFO locals from the Greater Toronto Area and Simcoe County took the lead in organizing the rallies, ETFO members from most southwestern and central Ontario locals also hopped on buses or carpooled to support the protests. They were joined by OSSTF, OECTA, CUPE and OPSEU members. The rallies focused on the education sector bargaining but also provided the opportunity to profile OPSEU’s bargaining impasse with the government and the shared opposition to Hydro One privatization. There was a strong contingent of ETFO members at both events and the rallies drew important media attention to the bargaining conflict and the union message.
Future Political Action
As the new school year gets under way, it’s difficult to predict whether the spring rallies and public concern about potential disruption to schools will have created enough leverage to get all sides to the negotiations table for meaningful discussion. If negotiations continue to be intractable, then members can expect another siren call to join the brigades at both local and provincial rallies. Political rallies, where members exercise their democratic right to protest government policy, will remain a central component of ETFO’s member mobilization strategy. Vivian McCaffrey is an executive staff member at ETFO.