As an employee of a district school board or school authority and as a member of your ETFO local, you are covered by the terms of a collective agreement. That agreement is negotiated between the federation and your board and contains a number of provisions outlining your rights as an employee. Although your salary and benefits may seem the most obvious and important to you right now, your agreement also contains clauses on working conditions such as class size and preparation time, leave provisions, seniority, transfer, probationary period, evaluation procedures, and much more.
As an employee it is particularly important to know what your collective agreement says about performance appraisal, resignation and termination dates, length of probationary period, rights of the board to impose disciplinary action, and access to your personnel file. In short, make sure you have a copy of your collective agreement handy and get to know what’s in it!
The terms of your collective agreement are legally binding upon you, the union, and your employer, and are enforceable under law. If you think your employer has violated the terms of the agreement, the union may have recourse to a grievance. The grievance procedure is a process for resolving differences arising from the application or interpretation of your collective agreement. It provides an opportunity to resolve differences at the local level. If there is no satisfactory conclusion, the parties have access to arbitration, a procedure where a neutral third party hears the arguments and renders a final and binding decision.
ETFO is the bargaining agent for all ETFO bargaining units. ETFO Collective Bargaining staff provides direct assistance to your local, as well as all other locals, to help you achieve and maintain strong collective agreements. They provide assistance with:
A strong, active membership is built on an informed membership. ETFO keeps members informed in a number of ways:
Members can sign up to receive The ETFO eNewsletter from any page on the ETFO website.
During the course of your career you may experience professional difficulties that cannot be addressed or resolved through the collective agreement. Working in the education system is more challenging today than it has ever been. Teachers and education workers have complex and varying roles in a litigious climate during a time of continual change and ongoing challenges.
ETFO professional relations staff provide information, advice, support, and intervention for members who are experiencing professional difficulties covering a broad range of issues.
Staff in professional relations will advise you of your rights and responsibilities in matters such as:
A 24-hour emergency assistance line is available to members facing criminal allegations related to their employment responsibilities.
For advice or assistance in any of these areas, contact ETFO professional relations staff at 416-962-3836 or toll free: 1-888-838-3836.
All information shared by a member with Professional Relations staff is confidential.
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Edvantage is administered by OTIP (Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan). OTIP has been providing insurance products and services to Ontario's education community for over 27 years. Edvantage is a registered trademark of OTIP.
Learn more about the exclusive savings available to you by visiting www.edvantage.ca.
Your ETFO member card serves a dual purpose as your Edvantage membership card. Visit the Edvantage website to see how this card gives you access to exclusive offers throughout Ontario!
Stay in touch and receive updates about exclusive offers and savings for the education community by signing up to eNews, Edvantage’s electronic newsletter.
ETFO is a leader among teacher federations on equity issues, particularly with respect to support for women’s participation and leadership. There are designated positions for women on the ETFO Executive (5 of 14 positions), and constitutional guarantees that programs for women will be provided, with funding allocated for this purpose. These programs offer direct services to women members through courses, workshops, awards, and publications. Funding is also available to establish provincial and local partnerships with other organizations and to support groups that advance the status of women and women’s issues in society.
ETFO’s equity and women’s programs are offered in the context of the Federation’s constitutional object “to foster a climate of social justice in Ontario and continue a leadership role in such areas as anti-poverty, non-violence, and equity,” and in the spirit of the definition of equity adopted by the ETFO Executive:
ETFO recognizes that we live in a society characterized by individual and systemic discrimination against particular groups. Within this context ETFO defines equity as fairness achieved through proactive measures which result in equality for all.
Work incorporating these principles spans all of the service areas of ETFO. The particular issues of women members, Aboriginal members, visible minority members, members with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members are addressed through standing committees, included in women’s programs, and explored through a range of other equity programs, as are, increasingly, issues of poverty and social class.
Some of the ongoing programs and initiatives offered through the service area include:
Watch for additional information on these programs and others from your local president, your ETFO steward, your local status of women chairperson, ETFO publications, the Equity section on the ETFO website, and in Voice. Finally, be sure to check shopETFO for a variety of inclusive curriculum resources ready for classroom use.
In addition to maintaining strong links between the provincial organization and the locals, ETFO works to foster a strong active membership and an effective leadership through a variety of services and programs.
The ETFO video Voices of the Union, available from your local, shows new as well as experienced ETFO members discussing the value of the union and the opportunities for involvement. Four pamphlets – Welcome to Your Union, ETFO – Make It Strong! Get Involved!, ETFO and the Labour Movement, So Now you Belong to a Union – accompany the video and provide more information about ETFO and opportunities for involvement. Copies of the pamphlets are sent to each new member.
ETFO maintains a list of political action contacts in each local to keep them informed about activities at Queen’s Park – those of the government and of the opposition parties. Members are informed either through e-mail updates or mailings.
ETFO maintains two listservs which facilitate communications from Government Relations Officer, Vivian McCaffrey:
ETFO also coordinates all-local and all-member campaigns to advance public education on the government agenda. A feature on our website is an email campaign tool that allows you to target emails on important issues to your local MP or MPP. The report, Queen’s Park Highlights, gives you an up-to-date “union take” on what’s happening at the Ontario legislature when it is in session.
If there is one word that describes education today it is change. The fast pace of change is unprecedented and likely will continue. To assist you to turn these changes and the challenges they bring into useful learning experiences for you and your students, ETFO offers an array of professional growth opportunities as well as high-quality, low-cost curriculum resources:
Be sure to check out the calendar and the Professional Learning sections of this website for more information on upcoming professional learning opportunities. Your ETFO steward receives regular mailings with application forms for many programs. Your local professional development chair is an important source of information as is your local president.
Establishing a positive profile for public elementary teachers and for the federation is essential to the success of the organization, the morale of the members, and the credibility of our issues. Public relations in ETFO takes a variety of forms including regular media releases on emerging issues, radio ads, print campaigns, billboard advertising, pamphlets for parents and teachers, and much more.
Locals also receive support in their communications strategies through individual assistance and through communication workshops that ETFO staff delivers to locals. ETFO regularly works with other federations and unions, social justice groups, community agencies, and education stakeholders to advance education and social justice issues.
All workers, including ETFO members, have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. However, there are numerous hazards in school communities that can cause accidents, injury or illness. These hazards have the potential to affect the health, safety, and well-being of ETFO members, other staff and students.
Health and Safety Services staff members provide locals with expertise and support regarding the legal and policy requirements to ensure health, safety and well-being in schools. More information about the Federation’s commitment to achieving a safe and healthy workplace for its members is included on ETFO’s Health and Safety website at: