By: Kristin Rushowy Education Reporter, Published on Fri Sep 04 2015
Two down — but three still to go.
With tentative deals reached with the high school and Catholic teachers’ unions in recent weeks, a four-day bargaining blitz with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation wasn’t enough time to reach a deal before the long weekend. Talks will resume on Tuesday.
French teachers continue to bargain after Labour Day, as does the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 55,000 school support staff.
While Education Minister Liz Sandals had said she wanted to reach agreements with all education unions before classes began so as not to disrupt the school year, elementary teachers and CUPE have planned work-to-rule campaigns to begin next week. Students, however, may not initially notice the job action, which for teachers is largely administrative — though includes no field trips or parent-teacher nights. CUPE workers will refuse unpaid overtime and only perform duties outlined in their contract.
“I am pleased we have reached central tentative agreements with Ontario’s Catholic teachers and English public high school teachers and that the tentative agreements are consistent with the government’s net-zero bargaining framework,” said a statement from Sandals issued Friday afternoon, referring to the fact the small salary increases provided in those deals are offset by savings elsewhere in the contracts.
“We continue to actively negotiate and have scheduled bargaining dates with all remaining teachers’ and education workers’ unions, including CUPE, in an effort to achieve central agreements and avoid disruption to the school year.”
CUPE, which represents custodians, educational assistants and early childhood educators, issued formal notice on Friday of the impending job action, which begins on Thursday, the third day of school.
Bargaining resumes on Thursday and Friday, with three more days starting Sept. 15.
“Obviously we had hoped that we might be able to get to go through the weekend after (Sept.11),” said Terri Preston, who heads the union’s bargaining committee. “But that doesn’t appear to be possible.”
CUPE workers are employed by all four systems — public, Catholic, French and French Catholic — and have threatened rotating strikes, and possibly full-out strikes.
The province’s French teacher union, represented by L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, or AEFO, has no job action planned and will be back at the bargaining table Wednesday.
Sam Hammond, president of the elementary teachers’ union, had said the government and school boards would be in “for the fight of their lives” if they continued to push proposals about class size and prep time. However, the deals with the high school and Catholic teachers saw no changes to either.