During Session 2, ETFO delegates heard from guest speaker Chris Buckley, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).
OFL President Buckley started his address by thanking ETFO for its support during his election to the OFL, and he assured delegates that the OFL is also in full support of ETFO and its members. Buckley pointed out that trade unionists should support each other “no matter what union, no matter what struggle” and committed to uniting the labour movement across the province.
Buckley also thanked all elementary teachers for the dedication that they show each and every day to the children of Ontario. He characterized the attacks by Queen’s Park on teachers over the past several years, and the gutting of teachers’ collective agreements in 2012-2014 in particular, as “disrespectful.”
Buckley affirmed the importance of educators getting what they need to support Ontario’s students – that includes smaller class sizes and more rigorous workplace safety standards.
On ETFO’s Charter Challenge victory, Buckley extended his congratulations: “You had a great victory….You stood up and took on the government and you won the fight. You proved that Bill 115 was unconstitutional…. You’re educators, and did you ever teach the government a lesson: good for you!”
OFL President Buckley concluded his remarks by expressing his serious concern about the rise of precarious work in the province. He urged ETFO members to support OFL’s campaign, Make It Fair, which seeks to change Ontario’s outdated labour laws to make the workplace fair for unionized, non-unionized, permanent, contract and temporary workers fair for all. Through Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review, citizens have a once-in-a-generation chance to make positive changes to the province’s labour laws. President Buckley asked teachers to share this campaign with family, friends and neighbours and come out to support the Rally for Decent Work at Queen’s Park on Saturday, October 1 at 1 pm.