Teacher candidates are often concerned about what will happen to their practicum in the event of a strike. Past experience has shown that each situation is unique and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. However, the following general advice can be shared.
Strikes or Lockouts at a Faculty
OSSTF/FEESO supports faculty associations by not taking teacher candidates from the striking (or locked out) faculty. Usually practicum placements are suspended until after the strike. If there is a strike at your faculty which requires the suspension of a practicum, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) will inform the Dean, the Teacher Education Liaison Committee and where the information is known, the president of the Students Council at that faculty.
Strikes by OSSTF/FEESO
Of particular application to teacher candidates is Bylaw 2.4.4 which outlines the “Duties of Members During Negotiations/Sanctions.” As associate members of OSSTF/FEESO, teacher candidates are also bound by these bylaws.
When a teachers’ or occasional teachers’ bargaining unit has notified its employer of its intention to take strike action, notification is sent to faculties of education that might have teacher candidates in practicum placements with that school board. The Provincial Executive and bargaining team for the striking teacher bargaining unit decides on the form of strike. Sometimes it is an escalating action, in which teachers will not at first withdraw their services as associate teachers. If it is a full walkout, however, then of course no practicum placements can occur. In the past, faculties have been very supportive and have often rescheduled the practicum.
If a “pink letter,” officially called an Information Bulletin, is also issued against a Board where OSSTF/FEESO is on strike, Bylaw 188.8.131.52 states that it is the duty of every member to “refuse to accept employment of the kind described in the Bulletin.” Further, Bylaw 184.108.40.206 indicates that it is the duty of every member to check with OSSTF/FEESO before accepting a position to ensure that the Board is in good standing. If you see a pink letter posted about a certain school board, you may apply and attend an interview but if offered a position, you are requested to inform the Board that, according to OSSTF/FEESO Bylaws, you may not accept the job with that Board until such time as the “pink letter” has been lifted and a “green letter” issued in its place.
If there is an OSSTF/FEESO strike action which affects you, remember that OSSTF/FEESO is also fighting on your behalf, for YOUR future working conditions, YOUR future salary, YOUR future benefits. OSSTF/FEESO needs every member’s support, including yours, to be able to achieve strong collective agreements. You in turn will need the support of your colleagues if you are to have a successful start to your career.
Strikes by Another Teacher Federation
OTF policy is that no teacher will accept teacher candidates re-assigned because of a strike in the coterminous board. Coterminous boards share essentially the same borders. Therefore, for example, teacher candidates displaced by an OECTA strike in the York Catholic District School Board will not be accepted by OSSTF or ETFO members in the York Region DSB, but might find alternate placements in the Toronto District School Board.
Note: No teacher candidate has ever failed to graduate or failed to get a teaching certificate because of a teacher strike in Ontario.