A one-day strike by Saskatchewan teachers took place on January 16th, with strong representation in Weyburn. Teachers from the Holy Family Roman Catholic and Southeast Cornerstone school divisions gathered in demonstration outside of the office for Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan. More than 200 picketers joined the line from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. despite the frigid temperatures, only stopping for brief warmups at their base of operations in Mckenna Hall. President of the Holy Family Teachers Association, Lorrie Fiechter, reflected on the demonstration and shared her thoughts as the one-day job action concluded.
"I'm so excited to be a teacher in this province today and especially to be a member of this association," Fiechter beamed. "We have had unbelievable support from our Federation. They were able to put all these plans in action and manage all of these moving pieces across the province, so the thanks start there, but the sponsorship from different businesses in the community and their support has been absolutely wonderful."
Caroline Gillies of the Southeast Cornerstone Teachers Association had been working alongside Fiechter at Mckenna Hall during the strike, collecting the feedback coming in from the picket line. Gillies shared her impressions following the demonstration.
"We had all kinds of people honking their horns along the way, we had parents and children stopping to say their thanks, we really felt the support out there," Gillies said. "I think it was also important for the teachers to gather like this in order to share their stories with each other, and to realize that the things they are experiencing in the classroom are happening everywhere, and it really is not just them."
Reports from the picket lines will travel up the chains of communication between teachers and their Federation, starting with Association presidents such as Lorrie Fiechter and ending at the central office in Saskatoon. If further job actions are called for by the STF, plans will travel back down this chain of communication leading to School Staff Liaisons, who will organize teachers on a local level with support from their Association presidents to put those plans into action. Fiechter revealed that she had not yet received word about future actions, but whatever decision is made will receive her support.
"The next steps are very unpredictable, but our executive staff and the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation have done a great job of providing leadership, so whatever they decide will receive our full support," said Feichter. "I can't say for sure when we will find out our next steps, but I can say that we want to return to the negotiating table. So, it will depend on the reaction of the government to determine what we do next."
Gillies chimed in to add that the way picketers represented Saskatchewan teachers fell right in line with the vision they had for this demonstration, and that she was pleased with their dedication despite the conditions.
"It all went really smooth, and people showed up today. The energy was here and they were excited," she said. "We were able to trust our staff to be professionals, and even though it was cold, they came ready to walk. They came out wearing layers and displayed that Saskatchewan pride."
There is currently no further information available concerning the possibility of future job actions as Saskatchewan awaits an official response from the Provincial Government. Updates on the status of negotiations will be shared as they become available.