Provincial Election Candidate Support
A member calls the provincial office inquiring as to whether they are allowed to wear a button (while working) that supports a local candidate in the upcoming provincial election and if they are able to post that candidates leaflets on the bulletin board in the staff room during the provincial election period.
Members are able to wear buttons that support a candidate or a cause so long as that candidate or cause is aligned with the political interests of the union.
OECTA billboards in staff rooms are for union use. Members may post candidate leaflets or flyers on these boards. Members are not advised to post these items elsewhere in the school. If a principal requests that a member not wear a particular button that they deem is too political or requests that campaign flyers not be displayed or distributed to other staff members, members should comply and then immediately notify their local unit office.
Some of the political activities of teachers are defined by explicit collective agreement provisions. In the absence of specific collective agreement provisions, school boards have the right to make workplace rules relating to teachers’ political activities. These rules must be reasonable and consistent with the collective agreement, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Labour Relations Act. A member’s right to display messaging that is political in nature may be limited by the employer if it is deemed to have a harmful effect on pupils or the school system in general.
Previous court rulings have stipulated that gratuitous political expression without a distinct tie to the best interests and legitimate political agenda of the union are not allowed, nor can a teacher limitlessly and without educational purpose enter into a prolonged political discussion at the cost of the curriculum. However, supporting a candidate ‘because they are good for education’ is legitimate as it aligns with the interests of the union, does not interfere with pupils or put education into disrepute.