Brief Overview of Settlements in the Education Sector

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It’s a fact, exercised over several rounds of bargaining, that high school teachers and university professors are the comparator groups for Ontario college academics.

Since the last provincial budget, tabled in March, University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) and York University Faculty Association (YUFA) have reached settlements with their employers. In both cases, the faculty have made monetary and non-monetary gains. In terms of compensation, UTFA received 1.75%, 2.11%, and 2.29% in a 3-year contract. YUFA, just this month, got 2% in each year of a 3-year contract. Currently in negotiations are Algoma, Carleton, Nipissing, Ottawa, and Trent.

High school teachers – Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Education on July 5. The night before this deal was reached, Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (management) walked out of bargaining, calling the arrangements unacceptable.

OECTA reached this agreement on the backdrop of tremendous pressure by the government to accept major concessions. Unions representing elementary and secondary school teachers, ETFO and OSSTF, left the discussions with the government early in the summer. OECTA felt that a negotiated settlement would be superior to a one imposed by legislation. Although the MOU signed indicates a two-year wage freeze, the initial position of the government to freeze the salary grid did not happen.

On the non-monetary front, specific teacher gains were made:

  • Fair hiring practices (e.g., Long-Term Occasional teachers will get permanent positions based on seniority and qualifications).
  • The right for teachers “to choose appropriate (diagnostic) assessment tools, as well as the frequency and timing of their administration.”

These proposals were opposed by the Trustees Association.

Recently, the Francophone teachers (AEFO) also reached a similar settlement with the government. We do not believe that the OECTA/AEFO deal is a good one, neither should it be used as a roadmap for other agreements. The larger teacher groups, OSSTF and ETFO, have rejected the OECTA /AEFO deal and continue to bargain, with job actions planned.

Regarding the non-monetary gains made by OECTA, and the trustees being opposed to it, analogies can be gleaned in the context of the colleges. Even the OECTA agreement demonstrates that the faculty must make gains or there can be no deal. The colleges are offering no gains whatsoever for college faculty.

Academic freedom is a cornerstone for quality post-secondary education. Management is adamantly opposed to faculty having academic freedom enshrined in our collective agreement. College management simply does not want to give up any degree of power and control. Neither do they want to ensure a hiring practice that is fairer to our partial-load colleagues. College management is out of touch with the current realities of settlement in our province with their incessant denunciation of any of our key demands.

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