The big news in Ontario Education today came to me via the Globe and Mail but media throughout the province was quick to report as well. It was a story announcing that the Provincial Government had reached an agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, OECTA.
The government pulled no punches earlier this spring when it announced its financial difficulties and flew ideas about how it was going to resolve them. It came as no surprise that it would be partially solved on the backs of the teachers of the province. Previously, the government had frozen principal salaries. I recall mentioning at the time that that wasn’t going to be enough; a salary freeze had to go much further than that and the biggest group of salaries in education belong to the teachers.
Education always seems like an easy target. The Ministry of Finance has even gone so far as to publish the names and salaries of people in education making over $100,000 a year. (as well as others in the Public Sector).
My friend @mzallieosin is never short on thoughts and posted a summary of some of the details.
- Two year deal
- No salary increase in either year
- All teachers take 3 unpaid professional development days to fund movement on the salary grid (Equivalent to 1.5% pay cut)
- Agreement to restructure the salary grid
- Elimination of Retirement Gratuities
- Short term sick leave plan with 10 sick days
- No banking of sick leave days
- Agree to develop a fair and transparent hiring process for Long Term Occasional Teachers
Through some searching, I was able to find a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and OECTA. It’s interesting reading.
I think that most citizens in the province have been waiting to see how this would play out. Through a process, local school districts and now the Catholic Trustee’s Association have been cut out substantially from the negotiations.
Now that OECTA has a tentative sentiment, that turns the focus on OSSTF, AEFO, and ETFO. What will they do? We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.
Let’s go back to the original story. Why teachers?
I think that the answer is simple. Everyone, somewhere has a hate for a teacher somewhere. Maybe they gave you a bad mark, or kept you for a detention, or you just lust for the short hours, 10 month job, summers off, a good pension plan, …you know all about the benefits of being a teacher.
Sadly, these comments come through online. The Globe and Mail has open comments for their story and over 200 have replied as I write this post. It’s an opportunity for anyone with an axe to grind to bring it out into the open.
Teachers didn’t get the current working conditions handed to them. Any benefit has been as the result of a negotiation between a teachers’ federation and its school board/district. It hasn’t always been the way it is now. Concepts come to the table and are negotiated by both sides with a view towards a collective agreement. The results aren’t always good. I was the Collective Bargaining Committee representative for my school years ago. My first report to my branch on a tentative agreement included a clause that a cost of living allowance would be suspended for the term of the agreement. You can imagine how that went over.
But the key was that it was a collective agreement between the federation and its employer. When you go through the process of creating a brief to the other side, it’s not a matter of trying to be greedy and getting unreasonable things. It’s a matter of trying to improve working conditions. All labour negotiations work that way.
It should be an activity between employer and employee group. I don’t like the current tactic of taking it public. The government is now on record defining where they see a collective agreement ending up – before negotiating even begins. The federations are immediately painted into corner without room to wiggle. And the public is right in the middle of it. You’ve just got to know that both sides are very aware of public opinion. Is this the right way to reach a meeting of the minds?
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