Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Not In Their Classrooms
This dissertation examines the rise of teachers' union militancy in Ontario through a case study of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) and the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation (OPSTF) between 1970 and their amalgamation into the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in 1998. It uses the archival records of the two unions, relevant legislation, media records, personal collections, and interviews to explore how these two professional organizations became politicized, militant labour unions able to engage with the state and the trustees of boards of education. The Introduction situates the public education project within nation building in a capitalist-democracy and outlines the theoretical influences informing the dissertation. Chapter 1 follows the two unions during the 1970s as they developed into labour unions. The 18 December 1973 one-day, province-wide, political strike achieved the right to strike and established a unique labour regime for teachers. Chapter 2 examines the advance of the unions during the 1980s as they developed labour militancy. At the same time, neo-liberalism was ascending and the post-war social accord was coming to an end resulting in attacks on unions and cuts to social programs. How gender affected the elementary teachers' unions between 1970 and 1990 is developed in Chapter 3. The FWTAO campaigned for women's equality on a platform of liberal feminism while the OPSTF followed a unionist path in an effort to convince women teachers to join them. Chapter 4 scrutinizes the effect of neo-liberal ideology on education during the 1990-1995 Bob Rae NDP government and the impact the Social Contract had on teachers. The development of teacher resistance to the neo-liberal state is explored in Chapter 5. Alliances with other labour organizations during the Days of Action campaign culminated in a two-week, province-wide strike in the fall of 1997 against the Mike Harris Conservative government. The Conclusion brings together the findings of the dissertation and suggests future research exploring teacher union strength in the Canadian context. Author Keywords: Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario; FWTAO, neoliberalism, Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation; OPSTF, teachers' strikes, teachers' unions, women's union

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