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Boards challenge extracurricular boycott

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Jan 24, 2013 - 11:48 AM |

Labour board's ruling could affect Rainbow board

The vice-chair of the Rainbow District School Board said she'll be closely watching for the outcome of an Ontario Labour Relations Board challenge filed by two school boards in the province.

Dena Morrison said the challenge by the Upper Canada District School Board and the Trillium Lakelands District School Board could have implications across the province.

The boards are arguing that by directing its members to continue a boycott of extracurricular and voluntary activities, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is engaging in an “unlawful strike.”

The matter will go before the labour relations board Jan. 25.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has also asked its members to participate in the boycott in the wake of the government's decision earlier this month to impose contracts on many of the province's teachers.

ETFO representatives declined to comment to the Globe and Mail Jan. 23, saying they'll wait until the labour relations board makes a decision.

Barb Blasutti, the president of ETFO's Rainbow local, was not immediately available for an interview.

Dena Morrison said the “nuts and bolts” of the school boards' argument is that in requesting its members continue with the extracurricular boycott, the ETFO is really engaging in “work to rule activities.”

If the labour relations board rules in favour of the school board, these activities would be deemed “illegal strike actions,” she said.

But the “opposite could also occur,” as the labour relations board might say the teachers' actions aren't illegal, Morrison said.

“I can't really comment either way, because we don't know what the OLRB will do,” she said.

Although a marathon labour relations board hearing a few weeks ago halted a walkout planned by the ETFO, Morrison said she doubts the board will meet for hours on end this week to settle the matter expediently.

She said the extracurricular boycott is having a minimal impact upon Rainbow board students, as there's a large number of community volunteers who have stepped up to make sure these activities go ahead.

“For the most part, activity has remained the same,” Morrison said.

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Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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