Two more provincial education deals reached
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Nov 27, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Two more provincial education deals reached

Tentative deals with support staff and early childhood educators reached Friday, leaving just one union at the central bargaining table


With two more tentative deals announced Friday, just one education union is now left at the central bargaining table with the Ontario government and school boards’ associations.

While local deals still need to be reached in most areas under new provincial bargaining legislation, eight of nine central deals — which cover costly items such as salary and benefits — have now been hammered out and most are already ratified.

“I am pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been successfully reached between the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Education Workers, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association, the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) and the government of Ontario,” Education Minister Liz Sandals said in a written statement.

“With the support of our education workers across Ontario we have made significant gains across all four publicly funded systems. Education workers across Ontario play a crucial role in ensuring our students have the tools they need to succeed in an environment that is clean, safe and welcoming.”

A tentative agreement was also reached Friday with the 15,000 support staff represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

Like the deals with teacher unions, the latest two are “net zero,” meaning any gains are offset by savings found elsewhere within the contract.

ETFO, the country’s largest teachers’ union with 76,000 members, also represents 2,400 education workers, including early childhood educators who work alongside teachers in full-day kindergarten classrooms.

The OSSTF represents support staff in a number of boards, including school office staff. During their work-to-rule this fall, secretaries represented by the OSSTF refused to monitor front-door buzzers, forcing schools to leave their doors unlocked.

Deals have previously been reached with OSSTF, ETFO, the province’s Catholic teachers, support staff represented by CUPE, among others.

The lone union yet to reach a central deal is the Ontario Council of Education Workers, a small coalition representing workers in six separate unions, including skilled trades and English-as-a-second-language instructors.

Some have questioned the the wisdom of the province’s bargaining system, used for the first time in this round of negotiations, for being costly, cumbersome and leading to labour chaos last spring and this fall. Ontario is believed to be the only jurisdiction with two-tier bargaining that allows workers to strike on either level, provincially or locally.

While a provincial deal has been reached and ratified for ETFO teachers, and all job action reportedly over, parents in many boards are now learning that members have been told not to prepare fall report cards for kindergarten students.

The Toronto District School Board will issue a letter Monday to families of kindergarten students explaining the reports were not a part of the agreement that was reached, though students from Grades 1 through to 8 will receive progress reports by mid-December.

A number of other boards have done the same. The Peel District School Board is unaffected, as its kindergarten students receive reports in January and June only.

Toronto Star

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