ETFO Provincial has seven service areas to advocate for educators’ rights and provide support to ETFO members:
ETFO has five administrative leaders:
The administrative leaders work with the management team and the staff of the Federation to implement the programs and services approved by the Executive and the Annual Meeting.
Management staff supervise the work of support staff, deal with human resources issues, keep the office environment efficient and pleasant, and make sure equipment is maintained and upgraded, including computer hardware and software.
Among the most important people in the organization are the office services staff. They include the people in the print department who produce hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper every year; shopETFO staff, who locate and sell hundreds of unique and useful items to locals and individual members; the shipping staff who get the mail out to members promptly and efficiently; our receptionist, who processes thousands of phone calls every week; and our Conference Liaison Team who work with all staff to ensure all ETFO conferences are well organized and professional events.
As well, Accounting staff administer and process the finances of the organization. Fee Reconciliation staff ensure our membership dues are received in a timely and accurate manner from the school boards. Member Records staff keep our vast database accurate and up‑to‑date at all times.
ETFO Collective Bargaining Services staff members provide support to locals to help achieve strong collective bargaining agreements by offering assistance in the research and preparation of preliminary submissions, bargaining and conciliation, as well as advice on negotiation strategies and impasse resolution.
Implementation, maintenance and enforcement are essential to the integrity of the collective agreement. Collective Bargaining Services staff members provide day-to-day advice and assistance to locals about day-to-day implementation of collective agreement terms, as well as support in formulating and processing grievances. Legal costs for grievance arbitrations and mediations are paid for by the provincial office.
Principals, superintendents and trustees may be well-intentioned individuals committed to helping you do your job. But good intentions are no substitute for your collective agreement, which is a legally-enforceable contract negotiated on your behalf by ETFO.
Your collective agreement is full of rights, entitlements and protections. It is the product of decades of negotiating on the part of ETFO local and provincial negotiators. The struggle to provide the best possible compensation and working conditions for ETFO members never ends. Once an entitlement is bargained into your agreement it can be improved upon and strengthened in subsequent rounds of bargaining. As a result, each and every ETFO member has a stake in reading and understanding their collective agreement, and in actively supporting the collective bargaining process.
The legal responsibility to bargain collectively for ETFO members is held by the provincial organization. Bargaining is conducted under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, which is also known as Bill 122. Bill 122 was enacted by the Ontario Legislature on April 8, 2014 and mandates a system of two-tier collective bargaining in the education sector that includes central (i.e., provincial) bargaining and local bargaining. Different items are bargained at the central and local levels.
Central bargaining for ETFO members is conducted by the provincial organization at two separate central tables: one for teacher and occasional teacher members and another for DECE, ESP and PSP members.
For local bargaining, each ETFO local establishes a collective bargaining committee that develops local bargaining priorities and then negotiates with the school board. ETFO Collective Bargaining Services staff provides support to locals to achieve strong collective agreements by assisting locals during all phases of the collective bargaining process. Collective Bargaining staff members also actively support locals in the implementation and enforcement of collective agreement entitlements.
With every round of bargaining, members are called upon to demonstrate their collective strength and solidarity so that ETFO can attain strong, effective central and local agreements. Yet even the best agreement is useless unless its provisions are enforced.
Enforcement begins with each and every ETFO member. Ensuring that your negotiated rights are being upheld starts by reading your local collective agreement. Whenever a member has any doubt about the way a provision of the collective agreement is being implemented, the local should be informed immediately. Your local can assist with collective agreement interpretation. If the agreement is not being followed, the local can take various steps to correct the situation. Many workplace problems are sorted out simply through a phone call. Others may require a more formal mechanism, such as the grievance arbitration procedure.
In teacher locals, each school or worksite has an ETFO Steward who is the “eyes and ears” of the Federation. The ETFO Steward occupies a critical leadership position in the Federation by ensuring that the integrity of local collective agreement entitlements is upheld. Stewards actively monitor the way the local collective agreement is being interpreted and applied in the workplace.
Member solidarity is the most critical factor in achieving bargaining success. ETFO’s Collective Bargaining Communications staff puts campaigns in place designed to educate members about collective bargaining and its significance to their professional and personal lives, motivate members to take ownership of the collective bargaining process and encourage members to actively engage in collective action around bargaining-related issues and goals.
Members can stay informed and involved in collective bargaining by:
Collective bargaining training is provided to local leaders, stewards and grassroots ETFO members. Provincial conferences, webinars and workshops at the local level are a few examples of the many ways ETFO provides training about the importance of collective agreements and the collective bargaining process. Collective bargaining training is funded through budget allocations approved either at the Annual Meeting or by the Provincial Executive.
The mandate of Communications and Political Action Services is to promote the Federation and foster a strong, active and informed membership through effective communications.
A strong, active Federation depends on an informed membership. Communications and Political Action Services staff work to keep members informed through:
The Federation works to ensure that key decision-makers at Queen's Park are well informed about the organization's position on issues that affect members and their students and that relate to ETFO's broader work within the labour movement, with women's organizations, and with equity and social justice groups. Members of the ETFO Executive and staff meet regularly with MPPs, their staff, and Ministry of Education staff to bring forward the views and experiences of our members.
Staff in Communications and Political Action Services work with 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. When necessary, staff coordinate all-local and all-member campaigns to ensure public education is high on the government's agenda.
Establishing a positive profile for the Federation and its members is essential to the success of the organization, the morale of the members, and the credibility of our issues. Staff identify media opportunities for ETFO leaders, issue media releases on emerging issues, develop radio ads, print campaigns, billboard advertising, pamphlets for parents and teachers, and much more. Local leaders receive training in communication strategies. Staff work with other federations and unions, social justice groups, community agencies, and education stakeholders to build coalitions.
Above all, Communications and Political Action staff work to make the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario a strong, effective voice for public elementary education.
Equity and Women’s Services is unique to teacher organizations across Canada, and illustrates ETFO’s commitment to women’s equality and broad-based equity concerns.
The equity and women’s services staff, as well as staff across other service areas, are responsible for a broad range of programs geared to member needs. These include initiatives for members who face subtle and overt discrimination – women, racialized and Indigenous members, members with a disability, and Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning members. We also address issues of poverty, social class and climate justice.
Our role is to be responsive to the diverse needs of the membership and to be a positive influence for change at a societal and structural level. The equity work of the organization flows from one of the founding objects of the Federation and the definition of equity adopted by the Executive:
One of the objects of ETFO is “to foster a climate of social justice in Ontario and continue a leadership role in such areas as anti-poverty, non-violence, and equity.”
It is the goal of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to work with others to create schools, communities, and a society free from all forms of individual and systemic discrimination. To further this goal, ETFO defines equity as fairness achieved through proactive measures which result in equality, promote diversity, and foster respect and dignity for all.
Our comprehensive programs and services are specifically designed to meet diverse member needs. These include training programs for women and equity seeking groups, anti-bias and anti-oppressive curriculum projects, leadership development programs, committees representing equity seeking groups, incentive funding to support local equity work, focus groups, networking opportunities, and projects with other equity-oriented organizations. With the participation of many members, the service area has also developed significant resources, including extensive curriculum materials addressing equity and social justice, for use by elementary teachers in their classrooms.
Equity and Women’s Services staff are pleased to liaise with local presidents, executives, committees, and members wanting to carry out equity initiatives in their own locals.
Teachers, occasional teachers, education support personnel, professional support personnel, and designated early childhood educators, are working in an increasingly complex world with greater diversity than ever in Ontario’s student population. Members need the support of their union to counter individual and systemic discrimination where it exists and to advocate for social justice.
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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: www.etfohealthandsafety.ca.
ETFO's strength is its members: the teachers and education workers in public elementary schools across Ontario. The mandate of Professional Learning/Curriculum Services is to foster a strong and active membership by providing professional learning and leadership development opportunities for members.
In providing professional learning, ETFO is guided by the motto “Making a difference in the professional lives of our members.” We work to ensure that ETFO's professional learning programs and services meet the needs of our diverse membership. We offer an array of courses, workshops, and conferences, as well as low-cost curriculum and professional resources.
Members can obtain information about ETFO's professional learning programs from school stewards, local presidents, professional development chairs, and by reading ETFO Voice. For specific and up-to-date information on ETFO key programs and services please visit ETFO's secure site.
Professional Services staff work in co-operation with the local leaders, maintaining the links between the provincial organization and the local, coordinating the delivery of leadership development programs, and building member identification with, and active participation in ETFO.
The ETFO Union School is a year-long professional learning program designed to support local leaders as they pursue leadership within the union.
Staff in Professional Relations Services are available to provide information, advice, support, and intervention for members who are experiencing professional difficulties.
This service is confidential and no action will be taken without the member’s knowledge and permission.
Local presidents and workplace stewards are encouraged to contact professional relations staff (PRS) at the provincial office when assistance is needed to advise and support members.
Staff will advise you of your rights and responsibilities in matters such as:
In accordance with ETFO Policy Guidelines, members have access to legal counsel through professional relations staff (PRS) at the provincial office.