For Immediate Release: Teachers Urge Colleagues to Vote “No” to Tentative Agreements

As members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) in the York Region and Upper Grand school boards prepare to vote on tentative agreements this week, many of their colleagues in other boards are urging them to vote “no.”

“90% voted to strike a while back,” reads an anonymous flyer being circulated among teachers in York Region. “90% of us need to vote no to ratification.”

While details of the tentative agreements have not been officially released, individual teachers, furious over the agreements, have been circulating over the internet details that reveal massive concessions, if not complete surrender to government demands.

Back in late summer of this year, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) reached a deal, or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the government. It surrendered sick days, froze salaries, delayed new teachers from moving up the salary grid, and required teachers to take three unpaid days off a year.

The government then passed Bill 115, which requires local education worker unions across Ontario to negotiate contracts that are substantially similar to the MoU by December 31, or the MoU will be imposed upon them.

At the time, the OECTA leadership was vilified by teachers across the province – including by teachers within OECTA – for selling out members. Now, however, OSSTF seems to have accepted the same logic of surrender, and OECTA leadership is gloating.

“From the information we have been able to gather at this time, it is apparent that OSSTF’s settlements follow a pattern, that they are tweaking our Memorandum of Understanding,” OECTA president Kevin O’Dwyer wrote on the union webpage.

According to Tim Heffernan, a Toronto teacher and former OSSTF executive officer, OSSTF leadership had built up members’ hopes of a serious challenge to Bill 115.

“We were told that the MoU deal wasn’t good enough for our members. We were told to ‘stand up, stand strong, stand united,’” Heffernan said, predicting that these deals will engender mistrust and cynicism from teachers toward their union leadership.

“If just one OSSTF local ratifies this agreement, that will put pressure on every other local in the province,” Toronto teacher Jason Kunin said. “That will not only sell out our colleagues in ETFO and CUPE, but it will empower governments all over the country to continue to use the threat of legislation in labour disputes. Basically, we can look forward to seeing the ‘McGuinty model’ imposed on unions across all sectors. That’s not going to make us popular.”

Because all workers, not just teachers, stand to lose if these deals are ratified, pressure is on teachers in York Region, who begin voting Monday, to soundly reject the deal and vote no.

For more information, please contact Jason Kunin at 647-244-2940.

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Supplemental Information:

An anonymous flyer being circulated in York Region offers this summary of what teachers stand to lose if they ratify the tentative agreement they vote on tomorrow:

“Gratuity
– frozen for some and gone for others. Monetary losses of up to $48,000 and potentially more as salaries should increase by the time most of us retire

Sick Days
– lost 10/year
– lost the ability to bank and carry them over year to year
– lost privacy in taking sick days by being forced to answer questions in an EAP meeting
– this is a concession that hasn’t happened for nearly 60 years. This eliminates the security that teachers had in case of longer term sickness or injury. Most of us are healthy now but a day may come when we’ll need the blanket that’s being stripped away

Staffing
– adjustment of class sizes and ratios (which will cost teachers their jobs)
reduction of centrally assigned and/or non-credit staff to 6 (which will cost EAs, CYWs their jobs)
– as class sizes increase, the total number of sections decrease, therefore resulting in fewer teachers

Benefits
– A move toward a Provincial Benefits Plan will cost York Region teachers as it will be less than what we currently have (health, dental, extended)

Salary Grids
– movement up the grid is delayed by a half year twice, making it the equivalent of a 12 year grid
– the government has the right to restructure the grid and how people move up it making it harder to do and paying out less each year

Bargaining Rights
– teachers are forgoing their rights to bargain locally from now on, starting Jan 1, 2014. YRDSB no longer cream of the crop.”

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4 thoughts on “For Immediate Release: Teachers Urge Colleagues to Vote “No” to Tentative Agreements

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