No agreement between teachers, board as midnight deadline looms

AMDSB Education Director Ted Doherty. File photo.

AMDSB Education Director Ted Doherty. File photo.

HEATHER BOA Bullet News SEAFORTH – A contract between unionized teachers and the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) will most likely be forced upon them by the province, with no local negotiations scheduled before the midnight deadline.

“I don’t anticipate that there will be a deal by the end of today. There aren’t discussions happening at this moment. Barring something unforeseen, I doubt there will be agreements with OSSTF or ETFO today in our board,” said Steve Howe, who is the board’s communications manager.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District 8 represents approximately 1,600 office, clerical, technical workers, educational assistants, early childhood educators and professional student services staff, and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario locals represent about 900 contract and occasional public elementary teachers in Huron and Perth counties.

A tentative contract agreement with CAW Local 302, representing 115 custodial and maintenance staff, was ratified by both parties this month and awaits approval from the Ministry of Education.

Yesterday, Laurel Broten, who is the education minister, issued a statement reminding unions and boards that local agreements must be submitted by midnight tonight under Bill 115, Putting Students First Act.

“There has been ample time and sufficient opportunity to reach agreements that are fair to teachers and support staff while also being fair to Ontarians who expect us to protect the gains made in our schools,” she said, in the statement.

“To those school boards and unions which have yet to come to terms on fair, balanced and responsible contracts, I say to you that it is time to end the uncertainty for students, parents and taxpayers and get back to doing what we do best: putting students first. We can start by respecting tomorrow’s deadline and we can continue by ending labour unrest in our schools,” she said.

Ted Doherty, who is AMDSB education director, said the minister was emphasizing a position she’s maintained for some time.

“I think the minister is just reiterating what she’s said many times that there is a deadline and she has the ability through Bill 115 to impose contracts if they’re not negotiated locally by the deadline,” he said.

He said there have been no contract discussions over the past weeks. The board and OSSTF District 8 had a tentative contract in November, but it was rejected by the union’s leadership before it reached a ratification vote.

Broten also announced a tentative template agreement between the province and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represent about 55,000 members, including educational assistants, early childhood educators, instructors, custodians, librarians and secretaries.

Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, said CUPE will continue its campaign to repeal Bill 115, including a legal challenge to the bill.

“Collective bargaining works. It creates stable working environments that lead to stable services for the people who depend on them. Bill 115 threatens that needed stability in our schools and puts our collective bargaining process at great risk,” he said, in a press release.

The provincial government’s bill imposes compensation restraints for school board employees in the education system, whether they are union or contract employees. It instructs school boards and local bargaining units of teachers and support staff to negotiate contracts that reflect a zero wage increase for the next two years and cuts to benefits.

The government says compensation restraints will protect full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, and the classroom experience.

Written by on December 31, 2012 in Schools - No comments

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