|I won't force you to read this... but only comment if you do.|
Teachers in Ontario have been teaching without a negotiated contract since September 2014. (One could argue it’s been longer, since the last contract was largely legislated, but I’m not here to argue.) And hey, maybe we WILL have a contract this September. (I’m writing this post in June.) But given how Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals has said “It is typical of school board bargaining that their bargainers have a habit historically of disappearing during July and August” when THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE... I’m not holding my breath.
The spin is strong. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. A few years ago, I did a media roundup of what’s been going on in the world of Ontario Teacher Contracts. In the interest of informing the public, I think we’re due once more. This post is the FIRST of TWO: It will provide THE BACKSTORY leading up to when Teacher Contracts expired in 2014. Looking ahead: Here is the second post.
Same disclaimer as before: I’m not an expert, just an Ontario teacher, who thus has a better sense of which search terms to use. Moreover, all I’m doing is pulling information out of the media, though some personal opinions do creep in. Note that most newspaper links do have a limit on the number of complimentary articles you can read. I’ve also pulled some articles from my previous post (post 2012) for context, and you can look there if you want more specifics.
Final Note: For those out-of-province, Ontario has a Liberal government... though BC also has a Liberal government, and we’ve seen what’s happened there. On the other side, there are several different unions in Ontario negotiating simultaneously, including OSSTF (Secondary School Teachers, Secretaries, Custodians, etc), ETFO (Elementary School Teachers), OECTA (Catholic School Teachers) and AEFO (Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens).
APRIL 11, 2012
Ontario education minister warns teachers, school boards about local bargaining.
"Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten has launched a pre-emptive strike against the province's teachers aimed at discouraging their unions from engaging in talks with individual school boards."
(Part of the problem in 2012 was that there was a ‘provincial table’ and a ‘local table’. Here, the Minister was trying to curtail local bargaining - the province had a framework in mind. Some said her actions interfered in negotiations; we’ll come back to this later. The province would reach a deal with OECTA on July 5.)
JULY 30, 2012
Start of Ontario's School Year in Jeopardy if Labour Talks Stall
"Education Minister Laurel Broten said at a news conference on Monday that the government will introduce legislation if school board trustees are 'unwilling or unable' to negotiate agreements with teachers before the existing contracts expire on Aug. 31."
(Sorry, I must rant here. I am still twelve kinds of bitter about this. Yes, contracts would run out on August 31, 2012. They also ran out out in 2008 - and 2014. Teachers still returned to work. Liberals didn’t need to legislate a damn thing, just negotiate! Contracts are retroactive! The one issue I will grant them was the automatic wage increases had to be addressed - but the government made it sound like teachers weren’t going back to work in September! AND PEOPLE BELIEVED THEM! See my 2012 post for more detail.)
SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
Ontario Teachers Vow to Curb Extracurricular Activities as Bill Passes Freezing Wages
"Up to 136,000 public school teachers will drop extracurricular activities like running clubs and coaching teams on Wednesday to protest Ontario's new law."
(This was the notorious Bill 115, the ‘Putting Students First Act’, which gave the government the power to impose a contract. Conservative Tim Hudak loved it, partly why it passed despite a Liberal Minority government. Incidentally, the Bill included the following language, one reason it’s STILL an ongoing court case:
"14. (1) The Ontario Labour Relations Board shall not inquire into or make a decision on whether a provision of this Act, a regulation or an order made under subsection 9 (2) is constitutionally valid or is in conflict with the Human Rights Code." )
JANUARY 21, 2013
Liberals repealing controversial Bill 115, Jan 23
“Education Minister Laurel Broten, who promised to kill the legislation after imposing the contracts on Jan. 3, said repealing the law will remove what became a lightening [sic] rod in the province's labour battle with teachers.”
(The government ultimately used their Bill to impose contracts - then repealed it. To me, it’s sort of like shooting someone, and then saying the gun is gone, so what’s all the fuss about? Perhaps coincidentally, that repeal was right before the provincial Liberal leadership convention.)
(Kathleen Wynne won the Liberal Leadership on January 26, 2013. Liz Sandals became the Education Minister on February 11, 2013. A prorogued legislature was recalled on February 19, 2013 with the Throne Speech.)
|I'm new here, I can make this all better...|
FEBRUARY 27, 2013
Extracurriculars make slow comeback as Ontario teachers, government resume bargaining
“Negotiations are expected to focus on coming contracts that will take effect in the fall of 2014, and on non-monetary issues relating to existing contract terms.”
(Yes, even after the imposed conditions, details still needed to be worked out. Locally, in particular. In the end, secondary teachers would resume extra curriculars before elementary teachers.)
APRIL 19, 2013
Ontario’s public high school teachers approve deal
“The Ontario Ministry of Education, which went back to the OSSTF and the ETFO to negotiate a collective agreement, says that no new money went into the deal.”
(The deal was ratified 84% by OSSTF. A lot of that news article is the Conservatives complaining that extra money actually did go in, hence the quote. Perhaps it’s true, in the form of working conditions - I don't know enough to say. But Bill 115 did completely strip out the sick leave plan that had previously been in place, things like that had to be addressed.)
JUNE 5, 2013
Ontario Universities bracing for teachers college funding cuts
“Ontario’s government is following through on plans to double the length of teacher education programs, but has knocked universities off balance by demanding they make the switch with 20 percent less funding for each student.”
(Okay, that article is only tangentially related, but honestly, the government seems to have it in for education? It could be my imagination. And totally unrelated to that: Dalton McGuilty Resigned as an MPP later that month.)
JUNE 18, 2013
Premier Wynne defends pay hike for public elementary teachers
“Wynne’s government has reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ETFO that agrees to a 2% raise starting in September 2014, giving their members parity with French and Catholic school elementary teachers.”
(Meaning maybe it is my imagination. Wynne did point out there that the teachers wouldn’t get the pay raise for two years; Conservative Tim Hudak countered that he would freeze all broader public sector pay. The fact is, ETFO took a pay hit back in 2008, this closes that wage gap. Their members ratified this deal on June 23, 2013.)
(This means three key Ontario unions now had a deal: OECTA (July 2012), OSSTF (April 2013) and ETFO (June 2013). I’m honestly not sure what happened with AEFO, someone feel free to enlighten me.)
APRIL 8, 2014
New Ontario law will guide teacher negotiations from now on
“The School Boards Collective Bargaining Act ... formalizes what was a fuzzy, often voluntary system ... after Queen’s Park took over education funding 15 years ago”
|To decide what's local, |
we'll flip a coin...
JUNE 13, 2014
Four more years: Ontario awakes to a Wynne-led Liberal majority
“The Liberals defied almost all predictions, with most pre-election polls predicting either a Liberal or PC minority.”
(So we now have a Liberal majority. OSSTF had also elected a new president by this point. Then, summer. And when summer ended, in September 2014, teachers went back to work. Despite not having a new contract in place. Seriously, still twelve kinds of bitter about 2012.)
Incidentally, you might have noticed that, in 2012, negotiations were underway well BEFORE the contracts expired in August. Not so much in 2014. It is my understanding that OSSTF filed to negotiate at one of the earliest possible dates, back in June 2014. One of the main delays, of course, was the provincial election: Who would teachers even be negotiating with? There’s also the fact that Teacher Contracts were previously 4 years, but Bill 115 legislated for only 2, putting everyone back at the table a lot faster - but I don’t know if that’s even relevant.
That said, since the Liberals were re-elected, I don't know why the government wasn't taking steps to negotiate last summer. Feel free to enlighten me.
The timeline continues in PART 2: Ontario Teaching Post 2014.