This interview follows Phyllis Benedict’s (Lennox) career as a teachers’ union leader. As a classroom teacher, she was a member of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO). She became a voluntary member of the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF), the men elementary teachers’ union, where she rose to become the second women to be elected president of the men’s union. She was still the OPSTF president in 1998 when the two elementary teachers’ unions amalgamated to become the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). Her role in the controversial 1997, two-week strike against the Conservative government of Mike Harris, is a focus of the interview.
Phyllis is candid about the events that unfolded during her two presidencies. She responds to the question, how did the woman who was reviled by teachers ending the two-week strike, become the first president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO)?
Interviewed by Andy Hanson and Harry Smaller