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Province Imposes Contracts on Ontario Teachers

Wages frozen for two years, strikes illegal.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathancastellino/7075380465/"}jonathancastellino{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

Education Minister Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) announced at a press conference this morning that Queen’s Park will be imposing a collective agreement on teachers in Ontario who have not yet agreed to one—something the government is empowered to do via the controversial Bill 115 (“Putting Students First Act”) which it passed in September. What this means for teachers: a two-year wage freeze, a partially frozen pay grid (meaning that 60 per cent of teachers won’t advance to higher rungs on the pay scale), fewer sick days, and an end to “banking” sick days and cashing them out upon retirement. It also—and for many this is by far the biggest sticking point—makes strikes illegal until the agreement expires in August 2014.

Ontario’s $14 billion deficit “is forcing all of us to choose between competing interests” Broten said today, and “for me the choice was between protecting one of the world’s best education systems and paying more for teachers.” This new contract will save $2 billion over two years, she said, and is essential if the government is to attain its fiscal goals and balance the budget in coming years. (The minority Liberal government passed Bill 115 with the help of the Progressive Conservatives.) Though Ontario’s Catholic and French teachers reached agreements with the province last year, today’s announcement of the imposition affects a large majority of teachers in the province.

Four unions, including the ETFO and the OSSTF, are challenging Bill 115 in court, maintaining that it breaches their bargaining rights.

In a surprise twist, Broten also announced that as soon as the outstanding contracts are ratified, the government is prepared to repeal Bill 115—a show of good faith, she said, and a sign that they were sincere when they described the legislation as a one-time measure, a “pause” in salary increases while the government addresses the deficit. That goal having been accomplished, Broten says, Bill 115 will not be necessary going forward, and won’t be in place for the next round of negotiations when the current contracts expire.

The repeal does not affect the court challenge. Should the unions win their case, affected teachers may be awarded back pay dating from the beginning of this contract.

Broten said today the government needed to impose the contract in order to, among other reasons, restore order and minimize disruption for students. It is not yet clear whether that will be the case, however: teachers may continue to refuse to help with extracurricular activities, and illegal strikes are also possible. Broten declined to speculate about sanctions teachers might face if they participated in illegal strikes.

Ontario students return to school on Monday, January 7.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Union contracts normally include a no-strike, no-lockout clause that forbids work disruptions by either party during the term of the contract. I’m not clear why this is the sticking point, since the contract is kind of meaningless without it. The real problem is that the contract was imposed without bargaining.

    • Testu

      That’s why it’s a sticking point. The teachers that were outside of contracts have just been told unequivocally how they will work and be compensated for the next two years. Without any say on the matter. This has just destroyed the usefulness of their respective unions in a single act.

      Then we get gems like this: “for me the choice was between protecting one of the world’s best education systems and paying more for teachers.” from the Education Minister of all people.

      The government has just said that compensating teachers is not part of “one of the worlds best education systems”, in fact it endangers said system so much so that the people that actually make up the education system cannot have any say in how it is run.

      • Anonymous

        I’m just saying that a no-strike clause is not, by itself, egregious.

        • Testu

          Yes, I suppose that was oddly written. It’s certainly no more of a “sticking point” than any other item in the contract really.

        • Anonymous

          If the government doesn’t hold up it’s end of the bargain, then the employees should be able to go on strike.

          • Anonymous

            Employment contracts normally specify grievance procedures in case one or the other party is not fulfilling its obligations. If the government was fundamentally in breach of their own imposed contract, then the teachers could argue that the contract is void and they could strike.

    • Anonymous

      There is no contract in place, and striking is part of a union’s arsenal for negotiating favourable terms in the contract.

      • Anonymous

        My point, which I admit is somewhat semantic, is this: it’s the imposition of the contract that takes away the right to strike, not the inclusion of standard language in the imposed contract.

        • Anonymous

          My point is that this imposed contract – which suspends their use of striking just as a regular contract would – takes away pretty much their only tool in negotiating a contract.

          • OgtheDim

            Well there is always the tool of Mutual assured destruction by letting the Tories back in.

  • http://twitter.com/NewTeacherGuy Mike Roberts

    How is this in ‘good faith’? Essentially Lying Lauren is saying “I’ll repeal it..AFTER you agree to and are legally bound by its terms.” This isn’t negotiation; this is coercion and strong-arm tactics poorly disguised as compromise. She must think we are stupid if she doesn’t realise how transparent her “largesse” is and how easily it is seen for what it is; a contempt for the democratic process.

  • MarkinOttawa

    Welcome to the real world where employees are told what they get paid and dont get to bank over 200 sick days.

    • Testu

      So negotiating the value of your labour (e.g. compensation) is no longer part of the real world? Maybe in retail or something but even there it’s still wrong.

      Maybe you should consider forming/joining a union so that you too could have proper compensation for your time.

      Otherwise this “I live in the real world so I work for pittance” bullshit will make sure that we all lose.

      • Anonymous

        Ignore this fool; he’s like most neocon assholes these days, brainwashed by Faux Noise (Fox News), Sun News Channel, and the National Post into voting against his own best interests and thinking that supporting neocons like Harper will make him a better (and richer person). Of course, one day, reality will be smacking this moron right in the face, especially when he wants to get paid more money.

    • Anonymous

      The real world is also full of people working multiple jobs and still not rising above the poverty line. Do you want to emulate them too?

    • Anonymous

      If your so envious of teachers’ contracts, why don’t you become a teacher?

      • Anonymous

        Because there is a waiting list of 12314729847598475982 people to get a job because everyone and their cat who didn’t know what to do after their undergraduate degree decided to go to teacher’s college.

        • Anonymous

          … and you don’t think you’d be able to make the cut when vacancies arise? Fair enough.

          • Anonymous

            Haha I’m happy with my job thank you very much. I’m speaking on others’ behalves, my apologies.

          • Anonymous

            Ah, so you don’t want to be a teacher then. Obviously the pay and conditions aren’t as good as your current job.

          • Anonymous

            Correct.

          • Anonymous

            Behind all of the bravado you display on this website, I’ll bet that you’re scared shitless of getting fired, having to be on welfare, and also having to look for a job. You’re welcome to be content in your delusion, but please don’t assume that all of us want to share in it with you.

          • Anonymous

            @nevilleross Absolutely not. I work in an industry that really hasn’t been touched by any of the economic turmoil that effects others. I don’t know where you got the idea that i was displaying “bravado” but your reply is a lot more aggressive than anything I post here. All I stated was that there’s a surplus of unemployed teachers because too many people made the poor decision to go to teacher’s college when there was already a shortage of jobs. There’s a reason that so many of them end up going abroad (not a terrible alternative). In any case, your assertion that my job security is lacking or that somehow I’m unsatisfied with my compensation is false and based purely on speculation and what I can only assume (ha) is your own lowered interpretation of self-worth.

      • MarkinOttawa

        Im not envious. Im a taxpayer who doesnt want his taxes to keep goin up. Is it good for a employer to let employees bank over 200 sick days? We r the employer. Enough is enough!!

        • Anonymous

          @tomwest:

          If your so envious of teachers’ contracts, why don’t you become a teacher?

          Because this fool wouldn’t be able to make the grade in teacher’s college, and couldn’t pass any exams, I’ll bet. Plus, like everybody else these days, he’s been bamboozled into believing that unions ‘are the work or the devil’ and that any labor agitation is wrong and stupid-typical right-wing neocon sheeple behavior. But, what else is new these days, and what can you expect from brainwashed sheep who will vote for people and a party that will sell you to the glue factory as soon as they’re done with you?

  • MarkinOttawa

    Welcome to the real world where employees are told what they get paid and dont get to bank over 200 sick days.

  • evan

    Too many bad teachers out there for me to have too much sympathy. Teaching work should be more about merit than union security.

    • anna

      This Bill is mandating that all new hiring be done purely on seniority. When Boards are in charge of their own collective bargaining, they ensure that unions do not impose seniority lists. Principals must be given the opportunity to hire the best for each position. This seniority hiring is now a reality for the next 2 years as the Liberals have imposed regulation 274. Teachers who have been on the occasional list for years, as they have failed to impress a principal, will now be top of the hiring list. These are your children’s future teachers. Get back to merit hiring and fight Bill 115.

  • jep

    Liberals just killed their own legacy. Shit, here comes another Conservative era for Ontario. Nice going McGuintey. You suck as a bully.

    • Tommy

      Pfft, not with Hudak at the reins. And it’s not like the PC’s did any better with the teachers under Harris. I didn’t go a year through high school without seeing some group marching in protest out front.

      • Eric S. Smith

        Bringing in the Harrisites for another couple of terms of kicking at the public sector isn’t the smart thing to do to punish the Liberals, but it sure is a likely outcome all the same.

  • Mags

    Maybe if she would tell the truth once in awhile and stop harping about this issue being about money. The teachers agreed long ago to a wage freeze. Shoddy treatment of a group that has kept them in power for so long. Oh well.. ByeBye Liberals!…

    • Deed

      Hello Tories.

      • Anonymous

        Let’s hope not, or we’re all in for a world of hurt worse than the last time they were in power.

  • cannwin

    It is great too see the governmenr take a stand…let them strike and protest on their summer vacation…while everyone else works..at least 47 weeks a year…i respect some teachers but most are in it for the perks snd dont even like kids…maybe scaling back wilk weed out those that teach for the wrong reason and the ones that want to teach will teach…the gravy train is over…i just hope..it contines….welcome to the real world where the employer dictates your salary…if we dont scale back…taxes will go up everyone but teachers will be retiring in poverty…everyone else pays…

    • momothree

      You are correct in that this will weed out the teachers. Any quality teacher who hasnt invested too many years already and who can move on to another job, will. That leaves people who cant do anything else. Just the people we want for our precious children? Politicians dont care about the quality of education. Their kids go to private schools.

    • Anonymous

      Are you just copying and pasting selections from the Sun‘s online comments?

      • Anonymous

        Do you need an obvious answer to that?

        • Anonymous

          Not really.

    • Anonymous

      Let’s see how you fare when (and if) that were to happen to you when you need to be paid more due to the cost of things getting higher Don’t you have anything better to do that to be brainwashed by Sun News Channel?

  • maggie

    Teachers are elite. They will get what they want in the end. It’s inevitable.

  • Anonymous

    Paramedics can on strike (except during contract negotiations), but teachers can’t? This is an infringement on a fundamental right – to withdraw your labour.

  • anna

    What about the other issues in Bill 115 that now directly affect the ability of principals to hire the best. Bill 115 regulation 274 mandates that all teachers on the occasional list and who are looking for long term and permanent positions now strictly are listed by seniority with each individual board and only the top five names on the list for each position will be given to the principal. They must hire from these names, no exceptions. Experience, enthusiasm, desire to go the extra mile, none of these matter. It will probably take several years of giving jobs to the older teachers, who lets be clear have failed to get hired over the last 10 years for whatever reasons, until the young enthusiastic teachers reach the top of the list. Now this is an issue that the public must start addressing as it WILL affect the quality of teachers your children will have.

    • Anonymous

      The unemployment rate for new teachers is somewhere in the area of 60%, and the Boomers in education are clinging to their jobs until they need to be carried out on stretchers, according to teacher friends of mine. Why is the Teachers College accepting so many students when half of them won’t get a job, and, now, their modern skills training and frame of reference comes second to those trained in the 70s and 80s?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505758359 Max Baru

    snooz! HAMUTAL DOTAN that was possibly the most sanitary article you could have written. Could you try being more apathetic?

    This deal isn’t beneficial even on narrow economic grounds. Previous investigations have shown that the banked sick days system is cheaper than the alternative not only because it is easier to handle administratively but also because there is less money lost when people do not use their sick days avoiding the need to find a sub at the last minute.

    Imposing a wage freeze on public sector workers is the same as imposing a tax hike on them.

    When I talk through the issue with people in my community, I find that some people are opposed to the concept of a national public education system, and not anything to do with collective bargaining; though attacks on the union is how they are choosing to express that sentiment.

    • Anonymous

      You do know that the reason said people act like this is due to years of brainwashing by neocon media? Too bad that most of them can’t ever bother to access alternative media outlets that would tell them the truth about things other than how big the Dow Jones is, or whatever nonsense is spewed on the news now.

  • Katie

    I couldn’t be happier and I pray that in 2014, the agreement is again upheld.
    Teachers think they are untouchable. Who else in the real world gets to bank sick days,
    and two months of holiday to boot? Stop whining teachers, be grateful you have a job and stop holding our kids hostage.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know about you, but I wish my line of work had bankable sick days and 10 weeks vacation a year. What’s so great about the ‘real world’?

      • Eric S. Smith

        “…10 weeks vacation a year.”

        That’s how Sun readers see it, though in some ways it’s closer to a seasonal layoff than they’ll ever admit.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure how it’s a layoff… public school teachers still get a cheque every second Friday over the summer, and Catholic school teachers get their 8 weeks’ summer pay in a lump sum at the end of June. (There’s also one or two weeks at Christmas and a week in March they’re paid for.)

          • Eric S. Smith

            There’ve been different payment models used by different boards around the province over the years, but you’re right that the concept of a seasonal layoff doesn’t really fit a job with an annual salary. All the same it’s not quite vacation that you can take whenever you want.

          • Mike Roberts

            Except teachers are only paid for 10 months, but defer payment over 12.

    • Anonymous

      We’ll see how you feel when the cost of living (along with everything else) increases, and you need more money that what you’re being paid now, sister. Sure enough, you’ll be wishing that you had a union to fight for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maryam-Leder/1375992387 Maryam Leder

    Why Chris why? You did much that was good but unfortunately you will be remembered only for screwing up by being a CHEAT. Remember people do not get punished for their crimes but for getting caught. BTW did you cheat on your Bachelors and Masters Degrees too? Lets get Putin from Russia in here to take over the TDSB and whip it into shape..