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Region’s high school teachers endorse terms of new deal with board

Highschool Teachers
[Stock Photo]

Secondary school teachers in Elmira have reached a deal with school boards and have voted to ratify.

Like the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) local District 24 office has accepted their recently announced tentative agreement on Nov. 16 with a vote.

The local deal, in combination with the provincial agreement ratified in the summer, makes up a “complete collective agreement that expires in August of 2017,” said Sherry Freund, president of the local OSSTF office, representing 1,800 full-time and occasional teachers.

Bargaining for the local deal began last March, and has been ongoing since. Freund says the process wasn’t easy.

“The process of bargaining for the first time under the School Boards’ Collective Bargaining legislation (requiring local and provincial ratification) has been painfully slow and cumbersome, which caused delays at both levels of bargaining,” she said the next day after the vote, adding that local bargaining was all about school environment and not about money. “The local tables, where OSSTF bargained directly with the employer, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), was focused on non-compensatory items, since all compensatory items were at the central table.”

The non-compensatory items mentioned by Freund include better protections for laid-off teachers, better definition of the teacher performance appraisal process, improved staffing process language and the inclusion of health and safety language.

“We will not be sharing any further details of the agreement at this time,” she said, adding that now the local deal has been voted on and accepted, members are pleased. “Our members are relieved that this lengthy process is finally over for our bargaining unit.”

Kathleen Woodstock, chairperson at the WRDSB, says the end of negotiations and bargaining is a sign of good things to come, benefitting both teachers and students.

“The ratification of a local agreement with OSSTF is a demonstration of the hard work and dedication of all involved. Steady and respectful discussion on both sides has created a productive working relationship for OSSTF members and the WRDSB,” she said in a press release “I look forward to working together, and supporting our shared commitment to student achievement and well-being.”

Although secondary school teachers have come to the end of their labour dispute, there are still a large number of OSSTF staff that are without a deal. Freund says the support staff have not been forgotten about just because the teachers have reached their own deal.

“Our support staff colleagues in District 24 OSSTF remain without either a central or a local deal and are currently in a partial withdrawal of services,” she said. “The teacher members of the District 24 stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in these bargaining units and hope they receive a fairly-negotiated deal soon.”

The support staff at Ontario high schools began their strike action and withdrawal of services on Oct. 5, after well over a year of negotiations and bargaining. District 24 OSSTF support staff include  educational assistants, early childhood educators, professional student services personnel, student support personnel, office and clerical staff, custodians, maintenance, and technicians.

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