Catholic board reaches deal with teachers – public board educators plan walkout

Labour peace will settle in with the holidays at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District school Board, with secondary school teachers and the board reaching a tentative agreement this week.
On Monday the board and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) came to terms to keep classes open and extra-curricular activities proceeding, with most teachers continuing to volunteer their time. Details of the agreement have not been released, and won’t be until the deal is ratified.
“Reaching this agreement with our secondary school teachers is very important to us,” said Brian Beal, director of education. “Our secondary teachers play a vital role in our Catholic high schools as they provide faith-filled learning to our students. The negotiations were very respectful and reflect the positive relationship we have with our teachers.”
The union expressed similar sentiments.
“We are pleased to have reached this local agreement with the board,” said Randy Zawacki, acting president. “I want to thank our collective bargaining team and the board’s team on conducting positive and respectful negotiations. Working together, we were able to address a number of issues that have been of concern.”
While labour harmony seems to be the order of the day at the Catholic board, it’s not so peaceful at the Simcoe County District School Board. Elementary schools across the county are closing for a one-day strike tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 14. Secondary schools remain open, but high-school teachers are not participating in extra-curricular activities, staff meetings, professional development or parent meetings outside of regular school hours.
Teachers’ unions are protesting Bill 115, which among other things limits the ability to strike and imposes wage freezes. It runs until 2014 and, says the government, is in reaction to the province’s $14-$15 billion deficit. Unions have challenged the legislation in court, saying it infringes on teachers’ rights.
Even though Bill 115 gives the government the ability to stop the class disruptions, Premier Dalton McGuinty said that won’t happen with a one-day strike, but legislative action may result from further walkouts, he has said.
For labour updates at the public board, click here, and here for updates at the Catholic board.
Students are also conducting their own protest at the loss of extra-curricular activities, using social media to organize events like the one planned for today in Toronto, where students are planning a city-wide walkout at 1 p.m. More than 2,000 students have indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they plan to participate.
In related news, the agreement reached between the Catholic board and its occasional teachers was ratified today (Thursday, Dec. 13).

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