Teachers union agrees to wage freeze

July 5, 2012 - All News

The provincial government announced it has reached a deal that could see Ontario’s Catholic teachers take a wage freeze.
According to the Ministry of Education, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has signed a memorandum of understanding for a two-year labour agreement.
OECTA represents 45,000 Catholic school teachers across the province, including those in Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board classrooms.
The government entered the latest contract talks with Ontario’s teaching unions intent on keeping a tight rein on spending. As Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals try to control and eliminate a $15 billion deficit, the government was asking teachers to accept a wage freeze.
While other teachers unions have spurned the calls for wage freezes, OECTA is the first to accept the clampdown on rising salaries and other education cost-cutting measures the government is asking of the province’s teaching ranks.
According to the ministry, the agreement would see Catholic teachers’ salaries frozen for the next two years and all teachers take a 1.5 per cent pay cut in the form of three unpaid professional development days “so that younger teachers will continue to be recognized through the grid for their experience and additional qualifications”.
The teachers salary grid, which determines an individuals pay based on experience and qualifications, would also be restructured to make “long-term, sustainable savings”.
Gratuities, that gave retiring teachers lump sum payments of accumulated sick days, would be eliminated under this memorandum. The Liberals said those gratuities could cost school boards $1.7 billion.
Also included in the agreement is a restructured short-term sick leave plan and promise to develop a fair and transparent hiring process for long-term occasional teachers.
This memorandum of understanding is supposed to serve as a blueprint for school boards and local Catholic school teachers’ union as they negotiate new contracts over the summer. It also sets the bar and expectations for negotiations with other teachers unions.
The same process was used during the last round of teacher negotiations in Ontario. Existing contracts are set to expire at the end of August.
The ministry is encouraging all other teacher and staff unions, and the trustee associations to meet to discuss this understanding so that additional agreements can be reached.
“These were never going to be easy discussions, but I’m pleased that after months of difficult talks, we were able to reach an agreement with OECTA,” said Education Minister Laurel Broten. “It’s an example of how teachers can successfully enter into such discussions with government that result in solutions that both protect student achievement and help us meet our fiscal targets.”
The ministry said this new deal would save the province $250 million in 2012/2013, growing to $540 million in the second year, when the agreement is applied across the entire sector. In addition, the province would achieve one-time savings of $1.4 billion.
“These savings will be found while continuing to support student achievement and protect full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, and dedicated teaching and support staff,” the government said in a news release.