Update: Discussions Between ETFO and Government Achieve Concrete Results
April 3, 2013
All discussions with government have been focused on finding solutions that can be achieved without new money and within the Ministry’s funding envelope. ETFO is pleased to report that, while the details have yet to be finalized, understandings have been reached regarding the following issues:
June 1, 2013 implementation. Superior benefits protected.
There will be no adjudication as set out in Regulation. With respect to the determination of eligibility for sick leave, collective agreement provisions and practices in effect at August 31, 2012, continue.
References to 66 2/3% in Regulation and in the sick leave plan will be removed. Use of sick days as per 2008 Collective Agreement and practice. Extended LTD waiting period beyond 120 days will be covered.
Increase to compensation to non-vested members for unused sick days.
A study to review current and planned educational initiatives and student assessment at the provincial and school board level with a view to clearly focusing such initiatives and assessments on student achievement, teacher workload, and teacher professionalism.
Job security clause for non-teacher members.
Voluntary / Extra-Curricular Activities
ETFO will notify members that any advice to withdraw participation in voluntary / extra-curricular activities is suspended. [ed This was done by ETFO last week when it lifted it's EC advisory.]Any decision to participate in voluntary / extra-curricular activities is at the discretion of the member.
These understandings were discussed with ETFO local presidents at a meeting in Toronto earlier today.
Based on the success of our meetings to date, as well as the good faith demonstrated by the government throughout these discussions, we are confident that ongoing dialogue will result in a full agreement being reached.
It is important to emphasize that an all-member vote will be conducted upon conclusion of any agreement reached with the government. ETFO is a democratic organization and, as such, it is ETFO members who will determine whether an agreement reached with the provincial government is acceptable.
[Ed: Please note that the highlights are my own. The original letter can be found @ ETFO site]
During the announcement Sam made it clear that the Presidents Council had met this morning, and would now be sharing the information with the members. The purpose is for transparency, to share some concrete information with them from the ongoing talks. I believe this is his first public statement since the accord was announced. That is in keeping with ETFO's stated news black out while the talks are in progress while also, in my opinion, offering some actually interesting information so as to be accountable to the members.
As of this week the OECTA MOU adjudication process is to be in place for the Catholic school boards. Now ETFO will not be participating. With the ETFO sick leaves there will be no requirement for a third party adjudicator. Instead the process will be the same as it was in the 2008 Collective Agreements, and involve the local school boards. Also the reference to 66 2/3 % pay in the MOU regulation will be removed from their new sick leave plan. Qualifying members will receive the 120 days at 90%. I enquired further and was told that the savings from not implementing the new adjudication process will cover the cost of the straight 90 percent sick day payments, with no additional cost to the government.
IMHO, a third party adjudication process is desirable with our Catholic school boards because there are often many disputes and inconsistencies with how the absences are dealt with. The same applies with the return to work accommodations at the local level. From my discussions today, I got the sense that this is not an important issue for the ETFO members with the public school boards. At any rate, the straight 90% rate will certainly simply the complex adjudication system our OECTA teachers will find ourselves in, with the existing MOU regulation.
The addition of a workload survey is very interesting. Wouldn't it be great and make a whole lot of sense if the MOE needs to carefully consider the teacher workload issues resulting from it's nonstop stream of programming and student assessment initiatives in the schools? IMHO it's long overdue. Whew! ETFO definitely scored on this one!
You will note there will be an unspecified increase in the compensation to non vested members for their unused sick days. See my blog on the MOE leak seemingly confirming a new 25% rate in the OSSTF agreement.
I am not knowledgeable about the maternity benefits in the MOU regulations verses those in the ETFO discussion, but perhaps somebody can fill us in?
The media questions were disappointing. I was surprised by the lack of understanding of how negotiations are carried out. Indeed some of the reporters seemed quite miffed by the news black out and didn't think it was fair for the public at large. Then there were the usual "suffer unto the little children" arguments about members not volunteering their spare time for EC's. The reporter wanted to know if this was worth what the children have been put through and denied? There were wide gaps in understanding a frightful number of issues, but I guess we knew that all ready.
It is true that the details for each key issue are ambiguous and open to interpretation. However President Hammond was able to show some concrete examples of which direction the talks are going for his members during the otherwise necessary news blackout in place for the ongoing talks. A reporter was upset that there was no new information to report. Far from it! An informed reader can start to interpret what this all could suggest or mean, and of course, after all is said and done, it will be the ETFO members who will reject or ratify the deal once it is reached.