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E a s t e r n   U p d a t e - Thursday, October 2, 2008


Collective Bargaining Update
To date, we have met five days with the Board for the purpose of negotiating a new contract.  Four additional days are scheduled on October 29th, 30th, and November 12th and 13th. 

Approximately eighteen articles have been signed off so far.  These articles are largely housekeeping items.  Most language around the Provincial Discussion Table framework agreement (PDT) and local issues remains outstanding.

The talks up till now could be characterized as respectful, but slow.  We are concerned that Boards are particularly reticent to agree to negotiate local issues, wishing to confine any changes to the scope of the Framework.  By slowing down the pace of progress, time runs out to address local issues, with the deadline of November 30th looming.

What are some of the local issues that are on the table which we want addressed?  Elementary teacher workload issues; SERT teacher replacement for absences;  Core French and Prep. teacher travel time;  on-call/ supervision time at the secondary level; protocol and procedures for responding to breakdown of information technology and the Board’s server;  Board Initiated Transfers;  transparency and objectivity in the transfer and vacancy processes. 

With provincial frameworks dominating in this round and the last round of negotiations, local issues have the potential of being neglected for a long period of time- eight years.  This is not acceptable.    Our local negotiating team remains committed to having the issues identified by our teachers addressed in this round of bargaining. 

For more information, speak to your Staff Representative or call the Unit office.


Beginning Teachers’ Conference
The Beginning Teachers’ Conference is being held on February 19th, 20th, and 21st.  We are at this time inviting interested teachers, in their first five years of teaching, to submit their names to the Unit office if they wish to attend.  Please encourage any new teachers at your school to submit their names.  The conference has had great reviews.


World Teachers’ Day- October 5th
World Teachers’ Day falls on a Sunday this year- October 5th.  Perhaps it is appropriate that it fall on a holiday, as the stresses of the job are catching up to us by now, and a small rest and reflection are due.  I recently attended an OTIP Benefits Workshop and had the chance to see a keynote address by performing artist and comedian, Victoria Labalme.  Her presentation was titled, “Crazy, Busy, Nuts:  Getting Off the Conveyer Belt of Life.”  Teaching can sometimes be “crazy, busy, nuts.”  Victoria reminded the audience that we ought to try to refocus our lives from all the different tasks and activities and endless to-do lists that consume us from day to day.  We ought to “breathe” (like Marcel Marceau instructed her) and remember our “through-line”, the climber at the end of the rope we are anchoring, the reason for why we do what we do.  Our relationship with our students, and with those with whom we work is the thing of utmost importance everyday.  When we focus on nurturing this aspect of our jobs, our work becomes inspired and inspiring and all else falls into place.  On World Teachers’ Day we ask for God’s blessings on all of us, and all those around the world, in this our chosen and noble vocation of teaching.



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