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E a s t e r n   U p d a t e - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Contract Status

Welcome back, everyone! Confusion may reign in the world of contracts and collective bargaining, but hopefully your first day of class has been smooth!

You have likely been reading up in the newspapers about the status of the OECTA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government, signed on July 5th, and Bill 115, the legislation that is poised to be passed that makes this memorandum law. As our communication early in the summer indicated, the agreement reached was signed only by OECTA and the government, and not by OCSTA (the Ontario Catholic Schools Trustees Association). OCSTA has taken issue with the fair hiring practice aspect of the agreement, and with giving teachers the autonomy to use their professional judgment regarding assessment in their classroom. For this reason, the vast majority of Catholic School boards (with the exception of four), have not signed the MOU, and refuse to recognize it. Our school board has taken this stance.

Thirteen Catholic School boards have gone further and filed for conciliation with the Labour Board, to position themselves to get a “No Board Report”, enabling them to make unilateral changes to the collective agreement. This aggressive move is forcing teachers in some OECTA units to take strike votes, to protect their rights. Thankfully, our board has chosen not to do so at this time.

Legislation is now passing through the committee stages. Amendments will be dealt with on September 6th, and the third and final reading and vote will take place on Monday, September 10th. The Progressive Conservative party has indicated it will support the legislation, though their position is that it did not go far enough, that teachers on grid should also have had their increments frozen for the entire two year period.

In this limbo of pre-legislation and lack of board recognition of the MOU, our collective agreement remains status quo and rolls over. That is, with no changes to the collective agreement, teachers’ grid increments should be recognized, each teacher should be given an additional 20 sick days in their bank, and be given access to this bank for the purpose of sick days.

HOWEVER, the legislation, once passed, will be retroactive and boards will be legally required to claw back money prematurely paid for increments for this school year. Rather than pay teachers their increment and then have to claw back these salary increases, the Board and OECTA have agreed that the Board will not make adjustments to reflect movement on the grid, pending the outcome of legislation. Should legislation fail to pass, the Board has indicated it will retroactively pay teachers their increments.

On the issue of sick leave, the Board has decided to give teachers their yearly additional 20 days, and allow teachers access to their sick leave bank beyond the 10 days as stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding. HOWEVER, should legislation pass, these days will be clawed back.

Because of the unusually early pay deposits for the 2012-13 school year which started on August 16th, teachers have already been paid for 20 days of work. This means that a teacher who commenced the year on sick leave may have already drawn on their 10 sick days at 100% pay. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, until an adjudication process is put in place, the short term disability plan will provide for 90% of a teacher’s salary. This difference of 10% may be subject to clawback.

In the unlikely event that legislation fails to pass, government transfer payments to school boards will still reflect the cuts that would have been realized by the MOU, and local bargaining will determine where saving will be found. Either way, local bargaining will proceed. The MOU gives a deadline for local bargaining of December 31st.

If you have any questions regarding the MOU and collective bargaining, please feel free to contact the OECTA Unit Office.

Best of wishes for the school year ahead!

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