ETFO Upper Canada Teacher Morale Plummets as OLRB Hearing Continues

BROCKVILLE, ON, Feb. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - As an Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) hearing co-initiated by Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) finished its eighth day, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Upper Canada local President Marg Merpaw expressed concern about plummeting teacher morale.

"Teacher morale has been a long-standing concern in UCDSB and is currently at an all-time low. It's a problem the school board is aware of but has chosen to ignore for many years," said President Merpaw.

President Merpaw cites long term disability statistics showing Upper Canada elementary teachers taking medical leaves for depression, stress and other nervous disorders at a rate almost sixty percent higher than the provincial average for teachers. Merpaw attributes this abnormally high rate to the heavy-handed management style of some senior board staff members - a style encouraged and replicated in many schools.

"Filing this OLRB application is just one more example of the belligerent management style that is characteristic of UCDSB," said President Merpaw. "There are 31 public school boards in this province and 29 of them are approaching labour relations in more constructive ways during this challenging time. But, unfortunately, the UCDSB has taken a different approach."

"I have been contacted by many of my members, and they are angry and frustrated with their employer's actions," stated President Merpaw. "This school board was vocal in its opposition to the coercive manner that contracts were imposed by the government, yet it had no hesitation in replicating that approach against its own teachers. Teachers are also very concerned that the school board has chosen to redirect hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for students' education and classroom resources into legal fees for this OLRB complaint."

"If this board thinks taking ETFO to the OLRB is the way to build bridges with its elementary teachers," continued President Merpaw, "it has made a serious miscalculation."

ETFO Upper Canada Teacher Local represents 1,098 elementary teachers employed by Upper Canada District School Board.

SOURCE: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information:

Marg Merpaw, Upper Canada Teacher Local President 
613-345-4893, mmmerpaw@ripnet.com