About 400 teachers who work at Thunder Bay’s 18 Catholic elementary schools could be locked out as early as Tuesday if the school board and the teachers’ union don’t reach an agreement.

Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board said Thursday it will lock its teachers out rather than try to supervise students, and contact parents in the event of rotating strikes that were to begin Monday.

If the teachers are locked out, then students won’t be able to attend the schools and parents will have to make other arrangements, the board said.

The teachers have been without a contract for two years, even though they have long agreed to accept total wage increases of 1.5 per cent.

The wage increases were negotiated directly with the province.

The union and the board remain deadlocked over a union demand for written assurances that consideration be given to experienced teachers when internal job postings become available.

Aldo Grillo, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Thunder Bay unit president, said all that the union demand means is that a teacher would be chosen from a list of, say, three qualified staffers with more than a few years experience.

Many other boards already do this, said Grillo, because it’s viewed as a courtesy to experienced staff.

“Unfortunately,” said Grillo, the Thunder Bay Catholic board “has a track record of designating jobs to teachers with as little as nine month’s experience.”

For its part, the board contends it “has presented a clear criterion against which decisions about who the successful candidate for a vacant position will be; it has committed in writing that it will not act arbitrarily.”

The board added; “The union’s contention that the board may favour younger teachers because they earn less and can be manipulated is nonsense.”

The teachers have been in a legal strike position since last June. As of Thursday, no new contract talks were scheduled.

Recommended for you