Anyone following the news this week is aware of the job action that is occurring in Ontario with CUPE members not reporting for work in response to the Government of Ontario imposing a contract and using the notwithstanding clause to prevent the union from striking. Regardless of whether you agree with CUPE or the Government on the issue, this situation raises an interesting question…
Historically, many unions who work in the same setting would respect each others’ picket lines and not cross the line to go to the workplace. However, leading up to and throughout the day today we have seen references to the use of remote learning or online learning or virtual learning to provide continuity of learning for the students while the schools are closed due to this job action.
Is providing online learning the same as showing up in the classroom and teaching?
And this isn’t a straightforward question.
Are synchronous or live lessons considered teaching?
Is the creation of asynchronous course content for students to work through on their own considered teaching? What if you also responded to student email at some point throughout the school day? How about if you posted a response to a student in the course discussion forum? What about getting caught up on your online grading?
Is the creation of “work to complete at home… through BrightSpace, Google classroom, email or as a printout” (as suggested here)?
Which of these contexts would be considered crossing the picket line?
How about the question of when does the school day end for online learning? For an in person teacher, the school closes 3PM (give or take from district to district). But if a teacher prepared some asynchronous content for their students, responded to student email and discussion posts, and graded online student work at 7PM on the day that a fellow union was striking, would that be considered crossing the picket line?
We don’t have any good answers to these questions, but the current issue does raise some interesting questions.