High school teachers’ union to return to...
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May 17, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

High school teachers’ union to return to bargaining talks

The OSSTF says it will return to central bargaining talks on Wednesday, with a new mediator


Amid acrimony between the secondary teachers’ union and school boards, three local strikes with no end in sight and worries the school year may be in jeopardy for 70,000 teens — finally, some positive news.

After a two-week standstill, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is returning to the provincial bargaining table on Wednesday.

“We’re going, and we’ve both agreed to another mediator,” said Paul Elliott, president of the OSSTF, in an interview Sunday.

While the move is a positive step, Elliott said talks will remain challenging. “We’re dealing with some (contract) strips that the school boards are adamant about hanging on to,” he said, which include increasing class sizes.

News of the talks comes as the federation prepares to begin work-to-rule in two public school boards — Halton and Ottawa — after launching full-out strikes in Durham, Peel and Rainbow/Sudbury.

Michael Barrett, head of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and chair of the Durham public board, is pleased the union is returning to talks, and also credited the new mediator with restarting the talks by “suggesting a different tactic — and I would say that the OSSTF was receptive to that.”

Barrett noted local talks will resume in Durham as well next week, as soon as a labour relations board hearing has wrapped up.

The strike in Durham, the longest of the three, is now entering its fifth week.

The labour board hearing, which began last Thursday in Toronto, is to determine whether the strikes are unlawful. The three boards hit by strikes allege they were called based on central bargaining issues, not local ones, which is not allowed under new legislation.

Under Bill 122, education bargaining is now two-tiered, with unions, school boards and the province negotiating costly items such as class size or salary, with non-monetary issues hammered out locally.

At the labour relations board, the school boards have argued the local high school teacher unions walked off the job because of class size and other central issues. The union, however, says that’s not the case and that local talks were getting nowhere.

High school teachers hit the picket lines in Durham April 20, leaving 21,000 students out of class for a month now. Sudbury students have been out of school since April 27 and those in Peel since May 4. In total, almost 70,000 teens have been affected.

On Friday, the province asked its Education Relations Commission to determine if the school year is in jeopardy in any of the three boards. A decision is expected this week, which could pave the way for back-to-work legislation.

In the meantime, because there has been some progress with the other four boards the OSSTF initially targeted for job action, Elliott said the union decided to go with a work-to-rule in Halton and Ottawa, where teachers won’t fill in report card comments and refuse other largely administrative duties.

“In Thunder Bay and Waterloo, we’ve seen significant movement happening” at the local bargaining table, said Elliott. “We are watching what’s happening there, and still hoping to see something happening in Ottawa and Halton.”

Elliott said the new bargaining legislation has led to “interesting dynamics between the school boards, the Ministry of Education and ourselves.

“There’s been an interesting dynamic at the bargaining table, but I’m not sure what the reason is that we couldn’t come to a deal three months ago, and why it’s taking so long to get some movement at the table.”

Meanwhile, the province’s public elementary teachers are staging a work-to-rule action but have not called any strikes. No central talks are scheduled. The province’s Catholic and French teachers continue to bargain centrally.

Toronto Star

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(5) Comment

By Conor | MAY 19, 2015 02:20 PM
I suspect the teacher's union is running low on cash. Look for a deal soon.
By redbaron | MAY 18, 2015 11:45 AM
Many of us grew up at a time when class sizes were more than 30 pupils. Teachers without electronic gear, cell phones, etc. did a much better job educating than the current crop of spoiled, self entitled group passing themselves off as "teachers." Given how hard it is to become a teacher, with stiff competition, you would think we have the brightest and the best for the job..not so, when the sheep can be led so easily by unionism. What kind of "professionals" do teachers regard themselves as when they act worse than those in the "labour" movements of the past and allow themselves to be "herded" by lazy wanna-be "unionist", ie. Elliot.
By StatusQuoContinues | MAY 18, 2015 10:57 AM
If these workers don't like what their employer (government/taxpayers) are offering they are free to look for employment else ware just like everyone else. We have a surplus of educated applicants for all jobs, and many of them will do it for a fraction of the wage, with a smile, and without protest..........It's time we the taxpayers/government begin to explore out options, as currant contracts no longer offer value for our dollar.
By StatusQuoContinues | MAY 18, 2015 10:57 AM
Anyone else tired of this marigold round system of overpaid, under worked public sector employees who are making much more than average private sector workers, doing half the work and still believing we are asking "TOO MUCH"..............When does this system of waste, strike, lining the pockets of these "highly educated" leaches finally stop?????
By Barry | MAY 18, 2015 10:16 AM
Elliott, tell me once again, IT'S ALL FOR THE KIDS right!!! You should be happy with what you have because Wynne Mill is going to stick it where the SUN don't shine. Quit having RETIRED teachers coming back to SUPPLY and let the younger ones in the door, now that's progress... I should be at the table and the strike would be over and YOU would be out of a JOB!!!!
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