‘Wynne Wednesday’ protests to kick off at Ottawa-area schools
Parents of children who attend Ottawa’s public schools should expect “information picketing” Wednesday as the union representing local elementary school teachers holds its first “Wynne Wednesday” protest.
“It’s not a traditional picket at all. It’s not about stopping traffic. It’s not about telling people not to cross a picket line,” said Peter Giuliani, president of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary Teachers Federation.
“This is the opposite of a strike…it’s an information thing. It’s about getting information to people as they go by.”
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Schools have sent out notes to parents about the pickets, warning that there could be traffic and pedestrian disruptions and urging people to be “friendly or neutral” and avoid any sort of confrontation.
ETFO, province to resume negotiations
The pickets will begin as the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) prepares to return to the bargaining table with the province, having accepted an offer Tuesday evening by Education Minister Liz Sandals to resume negotiations.
Public elementary teachers have been without a collective agreement with the province for nearly 14 months. The two sides failed to strike a deal after seven days of negotiations earlier this fall.
As part of their work-to-rule campaign, elementary teachers have said they won’t plan fundraising activities or field trips or attend open houses after school hours. Rotating one-day strikes could also be a possibility, although the local teachers’ union has promised they won’t begin without advanced warning.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has urged the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario to accept essentially the same deals as those accepted by their colleagues in high schools and the Catholic system, which were ratified earlier this month.
First ‘Wynne Wednesday’ in Ottawa area
Giuliani said he expected “somewhere north of 40 schools” would be taking part in this Wednesday’s picket, with teachers likely choosing either to participate before the morning school rush or during the afternoon pickup — not both.
Some other Ontario teachers unions have held Wednesday pickets but this will be the first one in the Ottawa area, Giuliani added.
“This is not about reaching everybody. This is about getting the message out, generally, within the community that you work in,” he said.