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More Key Issues at the Bargaining Table and New Rally Dates!
In this update:
- New Strike Vote Rallies Announced
- More Key Issues at the Bargaining Table
Strike vote rallies are underway and taking place in communities across Ontario, as we work toward our all-member strike vote on October 18 and 19.
The full rally schedule is available in the Strike Vote Rallies section of the Members’ Area at catholicteachers.ca.
As a reminder, in-person rallies may be attended by any OECTA member. You do not necessarily need to attend a specific rally – you may attend whichever in-person rally is most convenient for you. Provincial Office provided personalized digital OECTA Membership Cards in Provincial Bargaining Update #31, on September 8 – it will be helpful to have that card, or a printed version, available when you attend the rally.
You can also access your digital OECTA Membership Card via your account at catholicteachers.ca.
The strike vote rallies that have been held so far have been a resounding success, and an amazing opportunity for Catholic teachers to come together and demonstrate overwhelming unity and solidarity, gain confidential information about issues at the bargaining table, ask questions of members of the Provincial Executive and Bargaining Team, and understand the importance of voting “YES,” giving your Provincial Bargaining Team a strong strike mandate.
Issue: Addressing Teacher Recruitment and Retention
The Association has been calling attention to the issue of teacher recruitment and retention (the so-called
teacher shortage) for several years. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic teachers were highlighting how the Ford Conservative government’s disrespect and attempts to de-professionalize teaching were contributing to a growing recruitment and retention problem – a fact that was only exacerbated during the pandemic by the government’s refusal to implement the necessary protocols to protect teachers’ health and safety.
Now, despite all the evidence and widespread reports in the media, at the bargaining table the government
is refusing to even acknowledge the existence of the problem – let alone demonstrate a willingness to work
toward a solution. In fact, in some cases, where a shortage exists on the board’s occasional teachers list, school boards are refusing to hire retired teachers who have offered to work, choosing instead to fill classroom vacancies with unqualified individuals.
The consequences of this are far-reaching, and impact everything from your ability to access preparation
and planning time and attend professional development opportunities, to the quality of student learning.
Issue: Protecting Your Health and Safety
Every teacher has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. However, in recent years we have seen a dramatic increase of violence in schools – including a significant number of incidents against teachers, and involving students in grades as early as Kindergarten. Much more needs to be done to address the root causes of the violence in our classrooms, and greater supports need to be put in place, both for teachers and students. Sadly, the Ford Conservative government does not seem to agree.
In the 2019 round of provincial bargaining, the Association successfully negotiated for the development of an online reporting tool, which would gather all pertinent information regarding incidents of violence, and deliver that information to the school board’s joint health and safety committee. To date, not one Catholic school board in Ontario is in compliance with this requirement, despite collective agreement language and the subsequent ruling of an arbitrator on the matter.
In addition, thus far at the bargaining table the government and Catholic school boards are refusing to provide any additional resources or supports in order to address violence in schools – in fact, they maintain the baffling and preposterous claim that there has been no increase in school-based violence.
Issue: Confronting the College of Teachers
In 2019, the Ford Conservative government passed Bill 48, the so-called Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act. The legislation, which made the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) a de facto arm of the government, ended teaching as a self-regulated profession. In fact, of the dozens of regulatory bodies and professional associations in Ontario, the OCT is now the only regulatory body whose members do not hold a majority on its governing council.
The impact of these changes has already been felt by members, who were subjected to a shameful 17 per cent OCT fee increase, without having any say in the matter. At the bargaining table, the government has indicated it has no desire to change course – and is content to force teachers to continue paying for a regulatory body over which you have no say or ability to influence.
Issue: Protecting Fair Hiring Practices
The Association was the union originally responsible for negotiating fair hiring practices, which established an equitable hiring process, and ended the practice of nepotism and cronyism. For decades, administrators made hiring decisions with no transparency or accountability. Fair hiring practices changed this by establishing an equitable procedural framework with transparency, fairness, consistency, and accountability. Thousands of Catholic teachers have benefitted as a result.
Now, the government is seeking to destroy this equitable process and delete all collective agreement language related to fair hiring practices, returning to a situation where hiring decisions are left to the whim of administrators.