Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ridiculous Rally Turn-Out Empowers the Liberal Government

On-strike-sign-350On April 9 at the PowerAde Centre in Brampton, Ontario, teachers from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board were invited to rally by OECTA – the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association union. The union put forth information about ongoing negotiations between the provincial government and OECTA. Since last June, Catholic Elementary teachers have had no contract with the Ministry. This is due to a lack of agreement and compromise between Kathleen Wynne, the Ontario premier and butthead, and OECTA.

Some of the issues that OECTA is not willing to compromise include:

(1)   Ontario Elementary teachers providing the funds for FDK (full day Kindergarten) in all of the Catholic Elementary school boards in Ontario. We the teachers (not the general public) have been paying for other people’s Kindergarten children to attend full day JK and SK. Ridiculous. It wasn’t our idea to extend Kindergarten into a full day.

(2)  Frozen Salaries – it’s cold out here in the frozen tundra. Under our previous contract we also agreed to allow for a freeze in salaries for two years. This didn’t apply to new teachers or teachers who hadn’t reached a certain salary amount. Once these teachers reached this maximum, their salaries were also frozen. But those of us on the pay grid who are not at our cap (and should be) are paying the price, again for Ontario’s deficit, with Wynne’s insistence that we remain locked into the current salary we had two years ago.  This time, Wynne wants to continue to freeze salaries for three years.

(3) Absentee Support Program – this one is just wrong. Teachers are allotted 10 sick leave days a year. 10 sounds like a reasonable number, I’ll admit. However, children are little germ factories and highly contagious ones at that. This year was a very difficult one for me personally. I got my flu shot in October. I got the flu promptly 2 weeks later and it lasted for 8 days.  I had to take 6 days out of my 10 days to recover. After I was on my feet, I got food poisoning (I kid you not) and it was nasty.  I had to take another 3 days to get on my feet again.  Now I have accumulated 9 out of my 10 sick days which absolutely goads me. Now, should I need any further sick days (pray no) I will receive 66% of my regular pay on any needed days.  I still have to pay 100% into my pension however, regardless of the decrease in pay on those work days.

(4) Elementary school principals will be able to dictate how much planning time elementary teachers get. Meanwhile secondary school teachers are allotted about 2 hours daily.

There are many other issues on the table that are too numerous to list here. They are no less significant however and will all bear a significant impact on teacher’s work conditions in the following year. It has been 8 months of negotiations between OECTA and the Ministry with no end in sight. It was expected that 8,000 teachers would attend showing their support of our union in its ongoing negotiations with the Ministry. Instead a whopping 1500 teachers attended many of whom were LTOs (Long-Term Occasional teachers).  It seems to me that the rest of our educators are quite content to let those of us who have serious concerns about contract negotiations to carry the torch and do all the work.

Haven’t these people heard there is strength in numbers?  If we don’t take a stand against Kathleen Wynne and the Ministry of Ontario our demands will not be taken seriously and in fact, won’t be heard. We voted on April 23 – 24 about a strike for September – October and the result was 94% in favour of a walk-out. I don’t know how many teachers voted. Perhaps at this point it doesn’t matter.