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Table of Contents

Algoma Occasional Teacher Local

One of the biggest successes that we have had as a local was the addition of a Letter of Understanding in our Collective Agreement regarding an “Efficiency Range” to control the number of Occasional Teachers on the Roster. “Efficiency Range” is defined as an adequate number of Occasional Teachers on the Roster that allows our schools to operate efficiently and effectively. Also, the Board has made a verbal agreement with our OT local to not add members to the Roster, unless:

  • Intermediate or FSL teachers are needed, or
  • Occasional Teachers are needed in the outlying areas of our district, such as Hornpayne, Chapleau, Wawa, Michipicoten, Elliot Lake, or Blind River. Often times there is not an adequate number of Occasional Teachers in these areas, so the “Efficiency Range” is only in effect in the Sault Ste Marie and close surrounding areas, such as Echo Bay, St. Joseph Island, Desbarats, Bruce Mines, and Thessalon)

To provide a brief history, eight years ago our Occasional Teacher Roster count reached to a total of 306 members across the district. This was very detrimental to our Occasional Teachers because the amount of work available was minimal. Today, with approximately 170 members on the Roster, we have been very lucky to have this verbal agreement for the past four years. The Board continues to not add to the OT Roster, unless the need falls under the special provisions explained above. The Board has built a bridge with Occasional Teachers, knowing that should the Roster continue to grow as it did in the past, there would be less work available for our members. Being that we have had only a verbal agreement, the Board has and continues to act in good faith by not adding to the Roster and consulting with our local leaders should the need arise.

Algoma Teacher Local

Struggles into Successes

The Algoma District School Board and the Algoma Teacher Local have begun building bridges that have resulted in some successes for our membership! The Board has traditionally been very difficult to deal with, however in recent years, good changes have been happening with a new director and administrative team. New Board players in combination with effective union leadership has contributed greatly to a partnership of greater respect, effective communication and win/win solutions.
One major issue has been several denied leaves, especially if union related. The fact that I myself was even approved for union school this year is a local victory! The Board denied many leaves with the rationale that they wanted teachers in their classrooms. Of course, there was no issue if teachers were involved in multiple days away for Ministry Initiatives or PLCs.
The PLC process and members receiving their schedule preparation time is another example of the Board and the union working together, compromising and seeking out a win/win solution. After lengthy discussions with the Board, principals now must not schedule any division meetings or PLCs during a member's prep time. Any missed time has to be given within twenty days.
Lastly, Algoma Teacher Local did not have to take an unpaid day on March 7, 2014 until Bill 115. The director was willing to listen to our union president and together, they decided that our members would report to work and be paid. As this was not the case in many cities across Ontario, we were pleasantly surprised that our Board made this decision and it truly demonstrated the willingness to work together for win/win solutions.
Approved leaves, honouring preparation time and a paid day on March 7 started the building of new bridges with the Algoma District School Board which will hopefully continue on for years to come!

Avon Maitland Occasional Teacher Local

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Avon Maitland Teacher Local


2011 Preparation Time

Access to adequate preparation time has been a longstanding goal for collective bargaining across locals. In the fall of 2009, the Avon Maitland District School Board advised teachers that attendance at Professional Learning Community meetings approximately eight times per year was mandatory, and that any preparation time lost as a result of attendance would not be rescheduled or compensated.

ETFO’s position on the loss of prep time for PLCs was simple. The collective agreement required a 210 minutes of prep time. Those minutes had to be provided to the teacher. If prep time was to be cancelled for a PLC meeting, it had to be repaid. ETFO did not dispute the Board’s right to direct a teacher to attend a PLC meeting, it did insist that it meet its contractual commitment to provide a minimum number of prep minutes.

The Board’s position was that school boards could assign teachers to other duties, such as attending PLCs. When a teacher was assigned to other duties, a requirement to reschedule or provide additional compensation did not necessarily follow. They argued that extra work did not necessarily result in extra money or replacement prep time. In their view, the collective agreement stated that the ONLY time missed prep time was rescheduled was when a teacher replaced another teacher at the requirement of the principal.

The arbitrator, William Kaplan, agreed with ETFO. In his decision, he states that preparation time is “an issue of considerable and longstanding importance to school boards, to teachers, and to their federations”(9). He notes that the collective agreement is very clear that prep time shall be provided, in at least 30 minute blocks over five instructional days. Furthermore, he clearly states that “making an assignment (such as attending the PLCs) that deprives and then does not repay or restore the contractual entitlement is both unreasonable and unfair”(11).

As a resolution, teachers were given a half day in lieu of missed prep time, and prep time is now honoured during PLCs.

Strike Action 2012!

On Friday, December 7, 2012 ETFO announced that Avon Maitland would be the first Local to walk out of the classroom. The strike date was scheduled for Monday, December 10.

Ted Doherty, Director of Education for Avon Maitland made a statement to the press, "Obviously it's a disruption -- and that's the intent".

The biggest issue was Bill 115, the right to bargain freely. Bill 115 allowed the provincial government to set rules that local school boards must adhere to when negotiating with local unions and to impose a collective agreement on the board, employee bargaining agents and the employees of the board represented by the employee bargaining agent if negotiations were not completed by December 31, 2012. This Bill also limited the legality of teachers' unions and support staff going on strike.

ETFO had announced the previous week that they would announce revolving strikes and would provide the school boards with 72 hours notice.

Avon Maitland Elementary Teachers would be the first in the province to walk out of the classroom.

After lengthy meetings, the Avon Maitland Local created a plan and was prepared for this day. The elementary schools were divided into groups to picket each of the 6 high schools, the Seaforth Board Office and the MPP offices in Perth and Huron Counties. Captains were set, employees were informed of their picket location, attendance was taken. All but 2 members joined the picket line on their assigned shifts.

Local supporters from the Stratford and District Labour Council supported teachers at the office of Perth Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece. Teachers did not keep high school students or cars from entering schools or parking lots at schools or offices that they were picketing. Information pamphlets were handed out to those interested. Students from Stratford Central High School joined the picket line on their lunch breaks. Parents, business owners and other supportive individuals brought food, coffee and their support. Horns of support were heard continually in all locations.

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“We’re honoured to be the first. We’re a little bit off the beaten path,” said Merlin Leis, president of the local Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

“We’re already having the impact we wanted, we’re bringing attention to it. We want to ensure this issue doesn’t go away,” said Sam Hammond, ETFO president.

Bluewater Occasional Teacher Local

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ETFO Occasional Teachers in Grey & Bruce Counties

Protest at the Outdoor Education Centre

On October 19, 2012, the Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, was slated to attend the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Outdoor Education Centre (OEC) in the South Bruce Peninsula. This was a weekday, so while teachers were working, the Bluewater OT Local assembled a small group of Union leaders, OTs, retired teachers, OSSTF, and supporters from neighbouring boards to demonstrate that day. Armed with protest songs, t-shirts featuring the face of Dalton McGuinty, coffee, donuts and water, the stage was set for the demonstration.

There are 2 entrances to the OEC, and the protesters split their time between the 2 entrances, hoping that they would be able to figure out which one Broten would enter. A dark car, believed to host Broten, arrived and the demonstrators hurried over to it, while Broten's actual car arrived at the entrance with only a couple of protesters remaining. They missed her on the way in, but they knew which car to wait for on the way out.

A handful of demonstrators determined that since it was a public event, they could go in. About 4 people did so, and stood out in the back. Organizers and media watched intently to see what their presence would bring, but they chose merely to listen, and let their presence do the speaking. They didn't heckle the Minister or try to ruin anything.

Funny story: while Broten was touring the facility, a neighbouring gentleman, with a cane, who objected to the megaphone being used, slowly approached the group and started shouting at them to stop the noise because he can't stand it. When he's told by the person using the megaphone that they have a right to be there, he walks past the group and starts to hit the person's car with his cane. As others run to defend it, he returned to his house. The speaking into the megaphone did get a bit quieter.

By the time the Minister left, most of the protesters had gone home, but a dozen or so remained. As Broten attempted to leave, those who remained walked very slowly back and forth so that she couldn't leave. This didn't last long, but the protesters had made their point, which meant that the mission had been accomplished. Incidental casualty: the battery in the car playing the protest sons had died. Booster cables helped rectify that, and everybody was on their way home!

Protest success!

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Before 2002, a Bluewater Elementary Occasional Teacher in a Long Term Occasional Assignment had no access to reporting preparation time, unless their specific assignment happened to coincide with a designated professional development day in which it was understood they would get remuneration. This was especially problematic for Occasional Teacher members completing part-time and various lengths of teaching assignment who missed the professional development day entirely.

A clause in our 2002-2004 round of collective bargaining was achieved: In the case of a member on a long-term assignment of greater than forty-five (45) consecutive days, the member will be granted one half (1/2) day of preparation time for each forty-five (45) days worked.

This was a step in the right direction. A member on a full time 1.0 long term occasional assignment received two days of preparation time. However, this gain, did have it's limitations. A member in an assignment was unable to access this half day preparation time until the 45 consecutive days were achieved. Part-time long term occasional assignments took a longer length of time to earn this preparation time (e.g. .2 LTO) and those with less than a 45 day length assignment did not see this preparation time benefit. There was also no carry over to another long-term occasional assignment.

Meanwhile our Occasional Teacher Collective Agreement contained the clause: The timetable for a Long Term Occasional Teacher shall be the same as the timetable for the contractual teacher whom the occasional teacher is replacing. This meant the Bluewater Teacher Local Collective Agreement containing their clause on reporting days was applicable to Occasional Teachers: Each full time member will be assigned 1 day to be used for assessment, reporting, curriculum planning and professional development (pro-rated for part-time teachers).

The outcome: Our Occasional Teacher members in a full time 1.0 long term occasional assignment were granted an extra day of preparation time in addition to our Teacher Local colleagues.

In 2009, during the negotiations of the 2008-2012 collective agreement, our Bluewater Occasional Teacher Collective Bargaining Team was surprised the board did not bring up this provision wanting a change as it was a cost item. During this 4 year agreement period, our local president took the initiative each year to remind all members to take advantage of this extra preparation day they were entitled to access which resulted in a flood of requests to principals typically in May.

When the 2012-2014 round of negotiations began, the board brought forward their issue with the extra day of preparation time for members in long-term occasional assignments. With the Memorandum Of Understanding, local negotiations were to be achieved with no “new cost items”. The collective bargaining team anticipated if the board simply suggested to claw back the extra day, this would not be an option.

There was another issue. In our 2008-2012 collective agreement, our professional learning funds was just an attached letter of intent of $5000 annually from the board with an expiry date, and not in our collective agreement.

Through negotiations a trade was established. The resulting outcome was for the board to provide an increase to $7500 annually for professional learning as a clause in our collective agreement contract, which guaranteed this budget would be available for our members. In the case of a member on a long-term assignment of one full year, the member would be granted one day of preparation time like our Teacher Local colleagues. Members on assignments less than a year in duration would be granted one full day prep time prorated to the proportion of the year taught. As well, the timing of the day of preparation time shall be at the discretion of the member. Advantageous, the Occasional Teacher would no longer have to wait for 45 days to transpire before accessing the day. All members on long term occasional assignments would be able to access this preparation time.

Bluewater Occasional Teachers' Local:
Professional Learning Workshops
One of many!

Bluewater Occasional Teachers Advocate to Be Included in Board Communications

In the education field, community building is important. Community building includes having the opportunity to receive information and provide feedback as part of pre-existing communication systems. Beyond the importance of information sharing, open access to board communications and posts helps to provide a feeling of being part of a community, which assists in developing positive employee morale.

Since the introduction of internal communication systems with the Bluewater District School Board, all employees within the board had access to communication hubs which included System Announcements (board press releases and messages from the Director of Education), Staff Development (listing courses and workshops for professional development), Swap Shop (a personal and school site for buying, selling, and trading items), Condolences, Celebrations (a place to acknowledge positive life events), and Staff Lounge (where employees could share ideas, ask questions, and search for resources relating to their positions). When the Bluewater DSB transitioned from the use of the First Class/BEAM system to web-based Office 365 in Fall 2016, access to many of the communication hubs were only granted to permanent staff of the board, and the access was denied to occasional employees, including Bluewater OTs. As the transition to Office 365 continued, it was apparent that access would not be provided to occasional teachers, which questioned the value of this employee group to the school board.

Under the leadership of Bluewater OT President Andrew Chittka, a campaign was created to advocate to board officials and the IT Department that access to the communication hubs needed to be granted to occasional teachers. Many occasional teachers contacted the IT Department asking for access to be granted to the communication hubs. President Chittka wrote a detailed letter to senior administration advocating for access to be granted to our occasional teachers as they need to be treated as valued members of the education community. In addition, the lack of inclusion of the occasional teachers contradicted many of the board’s organizational health and safety guidelines in the areas of Organizational Culture (a work environment characterized by trust, honesty, and fairness), Civility and Respect (where employees are respected and are considerate in interactions with all stakeholders), Involvement and Influence (employee inclusion in discussions regarding decision making and how their work is done), and Engagement (a work environment where employees feel connected to their work and motivated to do their job well). About a month into the campaign, thanks to the advocacy of our members, all occasional teachers were granted access to Swap Shop, and Staff Lounge.

The battle for inclusion is a constant battle occasional teachers face. By not being included in the board’s internal communication systems, it silenced the voice of occasional teachers in being active members of an educational community. Although the battle continues on, this was a victory for the Bluewater OT Local as a means to encourage continuous access of information from the board level, as well as re-emphasize that occasional teachers should be treated as valued members of the board community.

Bluewater Teacher Local

For several years prior to 2010, the Board had an Assessment Framework that mandated what assessments must be completed and dates by which they needed to be done. The Framework was broken down by division and included assessments for reading, writing and math. Assessments were to be completed three times a year, September, January and June. The September completion date was set for the end of the third week of school. The Board also set standards for student achievement 80% of students were to meet this standard by the end of the year. The standards the board set were often higher than those set out by the tests that were being used.
As teachers we had several issues with the Assessment Framework.
  1. The number of assessments, particularly in JK/SK were unreasonable. Every term we were to assess every student. JK/SK had to be assessed on: PRIME, Letter Names (Upper and Lower), Letter Sounds, Phonetically regular words, Phonemic Awareness, Concepts of Print, Sight Words, Running Record and in SK the Ontario Writing Assessment. Grade 1’s were administered PRIME, a Running Record, Phonemic Awareness test, and the Ontario Writing Assessment. Grade 2-3 were assessed using PRIME, a Running Record and the Ontario Writing Assessment. Grades 4-8 were tested using PRIME, CASI and the Ontario Writing Assessment. Non-EQAO grades were also given a “Common Math Assessment” that was developed at the Board level.
  2. The timelines, especially in September, were unreasonable. Often there was a PD day in September and the deadline for having assessment data to Principals was 12 school days after the start of the year. With staggered entry for JK students often they had only been to class 3-4 times before assessment results had to be handed in.
  3. Teachers were being asked to input the data into the program for analysis.
  4. There was no room for a teacher to use their professional judgement in the selection of assessment tools.

On September 13, 2010 the Local filed a grievance based on the fact that teachers were required to use their preparation time to administer, grade and enter the results of the assessments and that this contravened the Collective Agreement as preparation time is not to be directed.
The result was a settlement between the Board and the Local, on April 18, 2011 that;
  1. suspended the remainder of the assessments that year
  2. reduced the number of mandated assessment periods from three to two
  3. allowed teacher choice to be incorporated into the Assessment Framework
  4. embedded teacher professional judgement in the Assessment Framework
  5. made data entry voluntary
  6. created a focus on teachers using assessments as part of their professional practice
  7. allowed for professional development to be provided
  8. allowed for students working at grade level or higher to only participate in one assessment period
  9. included observation strategies as key tools for JK/SK assessment

This agreement had a huge impact on teacher workload and was very well received by members. PPM 155 has now replaced this agreement, but at the time this was a major victory for Bluewater Local.

Durham Catholic DECE Local

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Durham DECE Local

Durham DECE Becomes an Official Local in December of 2013
After over 3 years of voting to become a part of ETFO, The Durham Designated Early Childhood Educators ratified their first contract and become an official local.

The first three years had been a frustrating journey for the newly formed Executive as they built our local from the ground up yet still existed in that "not quite a real local"

zone without all the rights and privileges that go with official status. Our local struggled to form and succeed amidst the protests and struggles with bargaining and Bill

115 and our own bargaining being put on hold repeatedly as the Province's Unions battled it out with the Provincial Government. We participated in rallies and

protests along the way as we strove to demonstrate solidarity among our sisters and brothers of ETFO. A lot of our members struggled with the

length of the process to get to the point of ratification and Union morale and engagement was not high despite having finally achieved our goal.
The time had come to start exercising our rights and privileges of official status and 3 proud Executive members represented our local as delegates at the 2014 Annual

General Meeting. Our Executive make it a priority to have their voices heard, their opinions stated, and their rights exercised as we build our local to be a respected and

heard part of this Union!

DECE Local Presidents at the 2015 ETFO A.G.M.

Durham Occasional Teacher Local

The Durham Occasional Teachers' Local takes Political Action

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The Durham Occasional Teachers' Local has, in the past, had an active political action committee, which hopefully will continue long into the future. One of the many important initiatives taken by these committees included working with the principal at the Kasabonika Lake First Nation Reserve (448 kms northeast of Sioux Lookout) to help meet some very pressing needs of the community. The conditions and cost of living for the people in this community are unimaginable. A DOTL teacher, Larisa Kavitsky has taught in Kasabonika for over four years and was able to provide insight into the issues facing the community of about 1300 people.

Spearheaded by retired teacher and DOTL member, Johanne Blake, and supported by the DOTL committees, the Seniors Club of Pickering and the Dunbarton/Fairport United Church, a donation drive was set up to collect warm used winter clothing, winter coats and apparel, school supplies and various other necessities. A printer, tablets, art supplies and sewing machines were also donated. Moving trucks and drivers were donated by Howard Marten Co. and Manitoulin Trucking and the goods transported to Pickle Lake. The donations were then flown into Kasabonika by Wasaya Airlines. The last initiative was to collect 350 coats in 35 days. Within less than 35 days, the PAC collected 540 coats. The DOTL’s political action committee is honored to be a part of this initiative and hope that they can continue to work with Kasabonika to help alleviate some of the immediate issues facing the community.

In January 2017, the DOTL will be starting an initiative, Please Help Me Walk a Mile in My Own Shoes, to purchase shoes for the children. Coglin Homes has already donated a storage unit and the GTA Political Action Committee is supporting the initiative as well.

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Durham Teacher Local

Durham Local achieves language in CA for staffing

In the last round of local bargaining, the Durham Local and Durham District School Board successfully included language to respond to staffing and the staffing process. Prior to this, staffing was achieved only through the provisions of the Education Act, in which the principal staffs a school based on needs. While this new language does not forfeit or run contrary to the Education Act, it does provide provisions for teachers to collaborate where necessary with the administration in the staffing of a school.
The work to achieve this language derived from surveys Durham teachers completed around concerns and sometimes frustrations with staffing. In the last round of negotiations, teachers who were part of the Collective Bargaining Team met with DDSB officials and reviewed the way in which staffing occurred in their respective schools. The process for achieving this new language was to ensure transparency throughout.
The language reads as follows:8.01a) Staff allocations shall be made by the Superintendent of Education/Operations in consultation with the Superintendent of Education/Area and Principalsb) The Board shall encourage Principals to consider collaborative approaches to school staffing. Teachers are welcome to provide input to the principal regarding staffing.c) Prior to Composite Posting # 1, Principals shall provide staff with tentative (i.e. unfinalized) teaching assignments. Where a change occurs, upon a teacher’s request, the principal will discuss the rationale for this change with the teacher.d) At a meeting with the staff prior to Transfer Round 1, Principals shall share with their staff school’s projected “Staffing Allocation” and “Class Organization” breakdown. For the purposes of this Article, the terms “Staffing Allocation” and “Class Organization” are understood to be defined as per the Board’s staffing software.
While the DDSB firmly stands behind the Education Act with regards to the principal’s right to staffing, this new language may serve to assist teachers in understanding the process more clearly, and enable teachers to identify prior to being declared surplus to a school, or considering transferring, what options are open in their existing school. While the language around principal providing a rationale for changing a teaching assignment is not specific, it would appear that it is upon the incumbent (principal) to elaborate a staffing assignment without vague or no responses to teacher query.
Where’s The Plan? – A new strategic planning direction for Durham Local

Gerard O’Neil was elected president of the Durham Local in 2010. Under his leadership he steered a new direction for the local. He focused on building a culture of strong strategic planning that was collaborative, democratic and egalitarian. Big picture thinking - with big targets. The expectation was set that all members of the executive leadership team would be invested in moving in the same direction with agreed upon directives. This new direction involved a commitment from everyone, to invest time to listen, argue, find common ground and move forward together. As Gerard would often comment, “Democracy is messy!” However, over time, this focus on strategic planning and big target thinking has had significant impact for members of the local, the community and the province.
In the autumn of 2012, frustrated with the political climate around Bill 115, Durham ETFO took the bold step to hire 2 campaign coordinators to lead a local counter-attack. We had no budget, but felt confident we would find the money along the way. We staged noisy weekly protests outside MPP offices, ordered signs, whistles, scarves and T-shirts, which are clearly visible in any Google ETFO image search. We made YouTube videos. We sent flyers out in local papers. We sang political versions of holiday carols at the Whitby library. We met with reporters. We hosted steward training. We insisted that every local committee include a political dimension with their work.

Under the umbrella of our local Political Action Committee, we took the unusual step to meet with other GTA PAC reps to find common ground and share strategies. Our organization has no official place for such a partnership and it was problematic, having no formal ability to make decisions. It functioned much like an Annual Meeting caucus.

Yet we persisted in a collaborative spirit, communicating constantly with our various local execs, and agreed to protest outside the Liberal convention at Maple Leaf Gardens on January 25, 2013. Ads were published. Buses were organized. Musicians were hired. By all accounts it was a huge success, as several thousand teachers from across the province loudly filled the street and brought our concerns to the OLP delegates as they arrived.
The next day, we teamed up with the Ontario Federation of Labour and coordinated a second march on the convention. We rented the closest parking lot (a major inconvenience to some delegates), set up a stage, chalk wall, and blasted music at the convention until various leaders took the stage with short speeches. There were minor logistical problems, and our full report may be available to you through the Durham Exec., but once again, we helped rally some 30,000 people to the OLP convention, and demonstrated great solidarity with the broader labour movement.

At Rep Council and the Annual Meeting, our funding requests were somewhat thwarted, but still our work continued. It is too important.

A few months later, with Bill 115 in the courts, Premier McGuinty in hiding, and the former Minister of Education Laurel Broten on the other side of the country, we launched our Workers' Rights campaign against Tim Hudak and the Conservative / Neoliberal austerity agenda.

We updated the local website, made a stronger presence at our local labour council, published the Absurd comic book, and dispatched members to help get out the anti-austerity vote in Niagara Falls. Unifor/NDP MPP Wayne Gates won that by-election, forcing Hudak to change his delivery, and soften his anti-union rhetoric, but the work continues.

The OFL organized a series of all-union meetings across the province, to get members talking about what the Hudak promises would mean in their workplaces, and launched the campaign in Durham, where we helped gather over 300 people from diverse unions. And our work continues...

We recently created a timeline of unionized education in Ontario, in the context of the wider labour movement and struggles of equity-seeking groups:

unionized education in Ontario
Durham ETFO - 'Super Tuesday' Strike DayDec. 18, 2012

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In response to Bill 115, ETFO members across Ontario took strike action. Every ETFO local went on strike on coordinated days, rolling across the province. Durham ETFO was scheduled to strike on Tuesday December 18, 2012. Because Toronto and York also went on strike the same day, it was referred to as "Super Tuesday". Durham's strike day was unique because it was the only local to organize an event for all members in one location. The impact of this strike action was awesome.

Teachers met at Memorial Park in the heart of Oshawa. Speakers were invited and motivated a crowd of ~3500 from the band shell. After the speeches, teachers, OTs, DECEs and supporters marched en masse from Memorial Park through the downtown core of Oshawa, stopping at the Conservative MPP's office and then the provincial office building. An opportunity was arranged for teachers to socialize afterwards.

ETFO President Sam Hammond's speech
OFL President Sid Ryan's 'Super Tuesday' speech
Durham ETFO President Gerard O'Neill's Strike Day speech

This was a huge undertaking and most of the planning had to be done without making the strike date public. Local members pitched in to make the day a success. Volunteers assembled 2000 signs, and picket captains wore shirts that had been hand screened in the office. In the days before 'Super Tuesday', a team of local volunteers walked the route and hand-delivered addressed notices to local businesses as a courtesy. As a result, some businesses took the opportunity on the day of the strike to show their support for teachers. One local restaurant (The Table) served soup to teachers in the street.

Organizers had to meet with the city, the city planners, the townships (because the road closures involved both municipal and township roads), and had to coordinate with city staff for the use of Memorial Park. Arrangements for use of the park had to be made around electricity, use of the band shell, clean up, washroom facilities, sound, and accessibility.

There were many logistic arrangements that had been made to ensure the day ran smoothly. Police were responsible for direction of traffic around moving road closures. There was a lead vehicle with music, sound and portable P.A. at the head of the march. Teachers had two stop points along the way - Conservative MPP Jerry Ouellette's office, and the Michael Starr building - the provincial offices building in Oshawa. Additionally, paramedics and a sign language interpreter participated. The media coverage was extensive during the event.

It had been prearranged for a food drive with donations to go to Simcoe Hall Settlement House, a local food bank. Teachers brought food donations to the park, which were collected and organized in the sign truck by picket captains. Picket captains also signed in teachers, guided the rally and were generally awesome.

Some of the day's highlights included motivating speeches, community support and outreach, and an enduring sense of unity. Special thanks to Durham ETFO's executive and ETFO staff Joanne & Sharron.

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Links & Media
Oshawa Express - "Angry Teachers Cut Class"
ETFO Media Release - Durham Strike Day

Comprehensive yearly Steward training was instituted in 2013, resulting in engaged, informed school leaders that are empowered to communicate effectively to members and to report back to the local office member concerns and priorities.
In 2014 an aggressive anti-Hudak campaign was launched by the Durham Local. It included supporting Jennifer French, an active member of the Political Action Committee, running for the NDP and the position of MPP, Oshawa. It was an incredible challenge that involved partnering with other union associations (Ontario Federation of Labour, Canadian Federation of Labour, The Durham Labour Council and many others) and mobilizing resources within the local.

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After 19 years of a Conservative incumbent, Jennifer French is elected in Oshawa
In addition to supporting Jennifer, the local aggressively targeted Hudak’s anti-education, anti-union messages. The Local used social media and creative messaging to combat Hudak’s austerity policies.

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The Absurd Comic was distributed to highlight Hudak’s dangerous “Right to Work” ideology
In 2015, the executive team decided that there was a need to be more engaged in the Federal political scene as, anti-union policy and austerity were becoming big themes in the Harper government. The local supported two NDP candidates, both members of the executive team. Mary Fowler ran in Oshawa and Pam Downward ran in Pickering/Uxbridge riding. Neither candidate was elected but they had a powerful voice - ensuring the political conversation reflected the needs of working people, fair wages and a national child care strategy.

Another campaign launched in 2015 in partnership with Toronto and York Region 2015 was the, “Just Let Me Teach” campaign. Buttons were distributed to members to wear during work action to highlight the work load issues and ministry initiatives that had become such a burden for teachers.
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Elementary Teachers of Toronto

Diagnostic Assessments
At the beginning of the school year, in September 2017, one of the challenges we faced in some Learning Networks in Toronto was around administrators’ request for specific Diagnostic Assessments. Below is an example of requests from different Superintendents to schools in various Learning Networks:
Messages to members included, “We will be collecting system data four times over the 2017 -2018 school year – October, January, March and June.“

ETT Executives had a full discussion at their Executive Meeting and was included in the November 30, 2017 Table Team agenda for the Elementary Concerns Committee.

In the meantime, the following email was sent to all the members in the affected schools, with admin copied.

“Good evening colleagues,
Please be aware that it has come to your union’s attention that, apparently, some Superintendents are putting the pressure on some administrators that we should complete some specific diagnostic testing on all the students in our classrooms, four times a year, with specific dates to complete them. Please note that PPM 155 does not stipulate what’s highlighted above and what members are being told in some schools. The attached documents also say otherwise. Every member in the school, who is copied here, should please read the attachments carefully and abide by what is enshrined on page 14, in our Collective Agreement. I trust that __ is not one of those schools but I am copying your admin on this email for her information.
In solidarity,”
The following documentation was also attached for their reference :
  • PRS Bulletin Professional Judgement Matters – Guidelines for Diagnostic Assessment
  • C.10.00 on page 14 of our Collective Agreement. These documents are included here for your reference.
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Be advised that even though the ETT Table Team have yet to bring the matter to the ECC meeting, I can assure you that administrators in the schools involved and the Superintendents in the Learning networks have stopped harassing members with their unreasonable demands. We are confident that other Superintendents across the city will not make any more such requests. Stay tuned for future updates.

METRO TORONTO: The Fight for Prep Time & The Creation of Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT)
On September 22, 1987, 10,000 Metro Toronto elementary teachers walked the picket line for the right to preparation time. At this time, negotiations were conducted with the Metro Toronto board and 6 other area boards who unilaterally denied the elementary teachers their 180 minutes of prep time per week.

This demand for prep time was not an unreasonable one. Grade 6, 7 and 8 teachers were already receiving up to 200 minutes in prep time due to the secondary teachers contract which provided for 200 minutes of prep, or 40 minutes a day at this time. As well, teachers who taught grades 3-5 received a break when they were relieved by French instructors. Kindergarten – Grade 2 teachers received no prep at all. The Etobicoke, City of York and East York teachers had preparation in their local agreements, and Hamilton had introduced prep time of 120 minutes a week in 1982.

When a strike vote was taken in the summer of 1987, teachers voted 87% in favour of a walkout based on preparation time. In fact, teachers had turned down an earlier offer of a 10.3% raise over 2 years due to the refusal by boards to discuss the prep time issue.

After almost an entire month on the picket line, the strike was settled through mediation. Teachers agreed to a contract of three 40 minute periods a week within two years. This 120 minute prep agreement for Metro Toronto paved the way for other locals within Ontario to win the right to prep time for their elementary teachers.

Following this round of negotiations, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) was constituted in June of 1988 to replace 13 former elementary teacher Locals across Toronto. This allowed not only for relative consistency in negotiations, but greater strength and solidarity.
The following are the teacher locals which formed ETT:

The City of York Women Teachers’ Association
City of York OPSTF District
East York Women Teachers’ Association
East York OPSTF District
Etobicoke Women Teachers’ Association
Etobicoke OPSTF District
North York Women Teachers’ Association
North York OPSTF District
Scarborough Women Teachers’ Association
Scarborough OPSTF District
Toronto Teachers’ Federation
Toronto Women Teachers’ Association
Toronto OPSTF District

ETT - Help Us Help Your Kids. Campaign - 2002_,

In 2002, ETT launched a campaign called “Help Us Help Your Kids” in response to the cuts that school boards had endured during the Harris years, and the Rozanski report, which recommended that education needed a re-investment of $2 billion dollars. ETT responded with its members canvassing schools, along with parents and a travelling billboard mounted on a truck. At the schools, parents and teachers handed out literature that informed the public about the deteriorating conditions of our education system, such as health and safety issues in schools, cuts to special programs and cuts to staffing.

As a result, education became an important issue during the provincial elections that year. The PC, Liberal and NDP parties all promised a $2 billion spending increase in education.

In light of the elections, ETT’s campaign changed its name to “Vote for Fair Funding” in 2003. Teachers and parents canvassed at two vulnerable conservative ridings. In the end, the Liberal party won those ridings, along with many other ridings that turned “red” from “blue”. A Liberal government gave teacher unions hope in working together in alleviating some of the deficits that education was facing.

ETT - FDK Reporting Directives Petition

The Issue:
In June of last year, a memo was sent to all school board directors advising them on the implementation of the new Communication of Learning. The Memo, sent by former Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, indicated that the new report would be implemented effective Winter 2017;

“In Winter 2017, it is my expectation that boards implement and use the provincial Kindergarten Communication of Learning template
for the term 2 reporting period, and continue to use the provincial templates going forward from that time.” - Liz Sandals (from a
June 10th, 2016 memorandum to Chairs of District School Boards) Up to this point, teachers had not received sufficient (if any) PD on
the new Communication of Learning or the new curriculum.

Pursuing a Resolution:
In response to concerns expressed by Kindergarten teachers, my local, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, began to work on a petition asking for the delay of the implementation of the Communication of Learning, as well as PD for all early learning teams. At this time, ETFO was also communicating with the Ministry of Education, expressing concerns regarding the timelines. Petitions were emailed to all Stewards and Regional Councillors (lead stewards in each family of schools) on December 9th, 2016. The petition asked:
  • That the TDSB delay the implementation of the new Full Day Kindergarten reporting template until the June 2017 reporting cycle so that ETT members can be provided with adequate resources and training;
  • That early learning teams be provided with 3 full days of release with consideration given to rotating the training days by Learning Centres;
  • That the training focus on both the curriculum and new reporting template;
  • That the training be conducted by the Early Learning Department;
  • That release time be provided for the training of Report Card Administrators on the new reporting template.

Over 3 days, more than 5000 signatures were collected. The signatures were submitted to the TDSB Director of Education.

The Resolution:
The director, John Malloy, agreed to delay the implementation of the Communication of Learning until June 2017. On December 20th, another memo was sent out by the Ministry of Education. It stated that that boards would not be required to implement the new Communication of Learning for term 2. It also stated that the decision of when to implement the new Communication of Learning would be made by each individual school board.

“In response to ongoing input, the ministry is not requiring boards to transition to the Communication of Learning Templates until the
June 2017 reporting period. For term two (Winter 2017), boards will determine readiness for implementation of the new reporting
templates in collaboration with local education partners, including local unions.” – Shirley Kendrick, Director of Curriculum and Assessment
Policy Branch, December 20th 2016

Impact and Next Steps:
The impact this has had on my local and the school board is multi faceted;
  1. The kindergarten teachers now have more time to receive PD on the new curriculum and the communication of learning;
  2. The local has shown that its members are able to mobilize on very short notice (5000 signatures over 3 days);
  3. The local has shown that there is solidarity among its members

The Elementary Teachers of Toronto has just started phase two. After successfully petitioning to the board to delay the implementation of the Communication of Learning, my local is now working to ensure that all Early Learning teams receive the 3 days of PD that was asked for in the petition.

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Ministry of Education memorandums sent to all school board directors:

ETT Members Show Solidarity in Collingwood - June 6th, 2015

ETFO members resorted to going on work-to-rule in May 2015 because OPSBA seemed to be leaning towards wanting to control teachers’ prep time, removing fair hiring practices, increasing supervision time and deciding what assessment teachers should use with their students. President Hammond made it clear that he wants a government that will stand up and negotiate fairly to find resolutions. ETFO is also concerned about the damage to public education that has been instigated by the Liberal government, especially with Bill 115 in 2013. OPSBA’s terms of negotiation seemed to lead towards the removal of several clauses in ETFO's collective agreement that would seriously affect the hard fought working conditions for teachers that have been negotiated over many decades. The erosion of these clauses will ultimately lead to less than desirable learning conditions for students.

In response to this on-going labour dispute, ETFO organized a trip that took bus loads of ETFO members to the Blue Mountain resort in Collingwood on June 6th, 2015, where Premier Kathleen Wynne, along with her Ontario Liberal party members, were attending their Annual General Meeting. ETFO members from Durham, Toronto, Halton, Peel, Simcoe County, York Region and other locals were in attendance.

No resolution was reached immediately regarding this issue. ETFO was forced to continue with and escalate the work to rule campaign in an effort to show the government that it meant business. After many days of serious negotiations at the bargaining table, that included an impasse as well as members of OPSBA walking away from the table, a tentative deal was reached on November 2, 2015. ETFO Members had been working without a collective agreement since August of 2014. On November 13, 2015, the tentative settlement reached with OPSBA was ratified by ETFO members.

ETFO members showed solidarity during this process. The large number of members that attended the protest in Collingwood is a testament to the support that ETFO garners. Members went to this protest as well as others, to show that they were sick and tired of the political games being played by the Liberal government. Solidarity is a very powerful tool indeed.


Members Shifting the Course through Community Organizing
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During the crisis imposed by Bill 115, teachers in the Toronto local got together for their regular meeting, but during that meeting something very significant happened. During that meeting, the teachers discussed the disconnect they were feeling from the parents and the community. Parents and the community didn't seemed to understand the issues and while often supportive of their child's classroom teachers, this support wasn't extending to teachers generally and teacher unions specifically.

The teachers decided they were going to do something about this. They began speaking with parents in their communities, School Councils who wanted to learn more invited union representatives to join their meetings. They began a leafletting campaign at subway stations and on sidewalks outside of schools. Supported by ETT PAC, they organized forum nights at community centres and legion halls with parents and sometimes trustees. There was a great response. The teachers and parents really connected. The parents started to understand how the different pieces that teachers were fighting against fit into the picture of the education of their kids and the future of public education in Ontario. How the teacher fight fits into a larger picture of a healthy Ontario.

This was a lot of work, and the teachers were only seeing more opportunities. So, they came up with a unique idea for our union: hire a community organizer. This community organizer could take on this work full time and organize with community organization with like-minded interests and overlapping mandates.

This would be major undertaking and would become a significant new way of working for the union. The first thing to do is get the will of the membership. The stewards wrote a motion to take to the floor at the 2013 January general meeting. After much healthy debate, the motion passed.

In February 2013, a community organizer was hired and has been working in the ETT office since then.

A natural fit for this new position was working with the Committee for Community Outreach. This committee “involves members working with, and in communities, to build stronger communities, alliances and coalitions around issues that directly affect our members and the communities in which ETT members work.". The community organizer works alongside the committee and attends their meetings and events. Such events as a new workshop for parents called "Ask a Teacher" where parents are invited in the evenings or on weekends to ask teachers questions about how the school system works, IEPs, high school transitions, and whatever is on their minds about schools. They are planning a large community forum for like minded community organizations.

Beyond the CCO, the position and work and duties of the community organizer continues to evolve. The community organizer is working to create a database of community organizations, like those attending the community forum. These organizations are identified as having similar and overlapping interests. The community organizer is working to establish personal connections and solidarity in our common efforts. They have worked with committees like our Political Action Committee and our Regional Council. They have prepared training and presentations for teachers and committees on how to create and build campaigns, creating workshops, and connecting with other organizations to maximize impact by combining efforts. A workshop is now being organized on school closures.

The Community Forum on June 6th, 2015 will be a culmination of the work of the community organizer and the Committee for Community Outreach for the 2014/2015 school year. It is an exciting event and involves many partners. And that is the key word, partners. The intent of both the community organizer role and the Committee for Community Outreach is to create partners. Create partners in building and protecting our public education system.

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“Shine a Light”

Beginning a number of years ago, in response to member concerns regarding knowledge around our local collective agreement, the ETT executive, working with a number of ETT committees, created what we called “Shine a Light Campaigns” in order to empower and inform our members, in regards to their collective agreement rights.

These “Shine a Light” campaigns were also aimed at building member awareness and helping teachers take action to stop inappropriate and negative administrative practices that were occurring in some TDSB schools. Some of these ineffective administration practices were undermining our members control over their teaching, their learning environments and was causing increased frustration among TDSB teachers. These campaigns were a way to rectify this, as well as, giving TDSB teachers a professional forum to identify, implement, assert and promote their collective agreement rights.

Any member of ETT, once logged into our local website, under Resources can both view and download PDFs of any Shine a Light campaign, eight of which have been listed below and can be viewed in their entirety, by visiting the ETT website at www.ett.ca

Shine a Light On:School Staffing Committees
Shine a Light On: School Budget Committees
Shine a Light On: Release Time for Writing IEPs
Shine a Light On: Supervision Time
Shine a Light On: Preparation Time
Shine a Light On: Staff Meetings
Shine a Light On: Extracurricular Activities

In each “Shine a Light“ campaign a brief summary of how each campaign is linked to members working conditions and our local collective agreement is highlighted, along with ideas to promote a better working or professional environment for our members.

For “Shine a Light” campaigns that do not deal with issues directly linked to our collective agreement, such as Kindergarten class sizes or lieu time to create IEPs; ETT provides a comprehensive list of teacher/member concerns (specific to those issues) and how these could be addressed with new collective agreement language and/or rights.

These campaigns have proven to be extremely helpful to the members of our local (specifically new members) and demonstrate the high level of commitment that our local's Executive, as well as, our local committees had to educate and empower our members.

These “Shine a Light” campaigns have been a huge success for ETT and all ETFO members are encouraged to look at these campaigns as a resource to both empower themselves, as well as, their own locals.

ETT’s Message to Parents, Communities
During the 2014/2015 school year, a Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) Google Group was created for ETT FDK teachers to share their concerns, and seek guidance and support from other teachers in regard to class size, health and safety concerns, and the overall teaching and learning environment of the FDK classrooms. The group’s discussions led to some of its members getting together at the local and working with a union PR company to design a flyer to share with parents. The flyer is simple and precise, giving parents a glimpse at the issues teachers, together with their unions are fighting for.

All Kindergarten Children Need a Fair Start


But it didn’t stop there. The issues that were being faced in the local were not only apparent in the FDK program. During negotiations, many parents often have questions, not just the families of our FDK students. With 11000 local ETT members, it has been a challenge to find creative and effective ways to share information with families about the local bargaining issues and, basically, the overall concerns teachers face on a daily basis. In collaboration with the Fix Our Schools campaign, the Campaign for Public Education, ETT members found a creative way to share information on the issues teachers were fighting for.
In order to reach as many parents as possible and to provide context for the legal job action and the WTR, the ETT local has produced a flyer that highlights some of the key issues Elementary teachers are discussing through central and local negotiations.
A Message to Parents


The flyers were ready for distribution in September 2015, and were used during the Wynne Wednesday information pickets at some Toronto schools during the Legal Work to Rule Strike action that began in May 2015. The flyer, which is accessible to the public in paper form as well as online, is a helpful tool ETT members have been able to not only access, but share with members of the general public. An advantage of having the online flyers is that they can also be shared through social media.
We are all in this together. Teachers are working together to improve our education system here in Ontario.

ETT's Organizing Campaign

“Organizing is about having hard conversations. It is fundamentally about having hard conversations with people and not running away from hard issues. You can’t win a union campaign…if you don’t do that.”
Jane McAlevey, Union Organizer
The issue
The executives in our local realized that without solidarity we would have no power going into our next round of negotiations. We learned that the only way to do so was to advocate, mobilize and organize our membership. We needed to find a way to have conversations with each of our 11,000 members to find out what
mattered to them and to agitate them to action. We needed to give them hope that with unity we could make change. We needed to identify the organic leaders in every school, who could get the members in their building to act fast and show our employers that we meant business. The organizing campaign was how we tackled this challenge.

Harnessing that power requires effective relationships, built over time through face-to-face conversations that engage, promote self-discovery, and identify shared common issues and the collective action necessary to address them.
ETT Website

The vision

"Why Are We Organizing?

Our objective is to build a movement for high member participation so that we can effect change within our schools and win what we and our students need in our next round of bargaining.
Our member-driven organizing campaign, fully realized, will give us an unprecedented opportunity to promote our members’ rights and to fight for the strongest public education system possible.
As we move into contract negotiations in August 2017, we envision a united and mobilized membership, with a teacher from each school in the negotiations room, participating in the process and working with parents in our communities to build common bargaining goals.
Together, we can and will make the changes we need to build the schools that Toronto students deserve."
The journey

October 2016

  • ETT Executive members read Raising Expectations Raising Hell - My Decade In the Labor Movement - by Jane McAlevey

January 2016
  • ETT Executive meet with unionist and author Jane McAlevey
  • Executive learned how to have organizing conversations, how to identify organic leaders, how to agitate members and find out their needs and mobilize,
  • Learned how to see teachers as members of the community and how to make connections with their network
  • Were excited by the idea of big open negotiating
  • Mapped out plan and timeline to advocate, mobilize and organize our local before August 2017

March 2016
  • Jane McAlevey addresses ETT Stewards at Steward Training
  • ETT launches Organizer Campaign

April 2016
  • ETT Executive meets with labour leaders and organizers for other locals and strategize

June 2016

  • Organizer Institute application goes out to membership•Interviews take place for organizer

August 2016
  • 40 members and the executive meet in Notawasaga for a three-day organizing institute led by Labor Notes Staff
  • Organizers commit to organizing their schools
  • •Introduction of SLACK app

September 2016

  • Organizing begins
  • President John Smith issues memo to our 11,000 members to introduce the organizers.
  • Organizer Tab Added to ETT website

October 2016

  • Fall retraining one day release for organizers with Labor Notes
  • Organizers sign up for more schools in their ward, community or network
  • Second call out for organizers at fall Steward Training
  • 100 Conversations - social event at Glad Day Bookstore hosted by ETT's LGBTQ Committee

November 2016

  • Two-day training for new organizers by Labor Notes
  • Social Engagement Fund for Organizing Conversations introduced

December 2016

  • Federation Day 2016: new organizers and old engage in organizing conversations
  • Jane McAlevey reminds members of the power of organizing
  • Members read Jane's second book: No Shortcuts - Organizing for Power in the New Guilded Age

  • Inspired by the members of ETT's FDK Google group, ETT executive launch a petition asking TDSB's Early Years Department to delay the roll out of the new Kindergarten report cards until sufficient and appropriate training was given with release. 5000 signatures were gathered.
  • Members see power of organization.
  • Board concedes and report card is delayed.

February 2017
• Two-day organizer training session with Jane McAlevey; Day One - ETT Executive, Day Two - Organizers
• ETT Executive chooses two full-time organizers from executive
• Executives map out plan and timeline between now and contract expiration
• ETT Organizing Project featured in Our Times Magazine

March 2017

• 100 Kindergarten teachers meet to discuss problems and issues with proposed report card
• Five major issues highlighted and closed as demands for board
• Ten members volunteer to be part of Kindergarten Think Tank
• Think Tank meets to prepare demands and speaking points before meeting with board representatives.

• Members met with Board and presented five demands:
• Board signs off on the following issues: that Administrators in each school will meet with Kindergarten Teachers to mutually agree upon timelines for reporting; and that the first deadline for draft report cards, as for all Teachers, shall not be prior to the report card writing PA day of June 9,
• that the Kindergarten report card template on TWEA is now available as we negotiated
• that Kindergarten prep provider Teachers will now be able to enter their own comments on the Kindergarten report card
• that more than one prep provider Teacher will be able to access the Kindergarten report card template to enter their comments
• that all the features on the report card system that are available to Grades 1-8 Teachers will be available for Kindergarten Teachers to use, which includes being able to populate the report cards with the same comment for more than one student, and create comment banks
• that with regard to writing reports, it is understood that Teachers will use their professional judgment in conjunction with Growing Success; and this includes: plain language being used, point form OR full sentences, teachers not being required to fill the entire comment boxes, that teachers may include similar comments for children who have demonstrated similar learning skills
• that a Working Group of Kindergarten Teachers, ETT representatives, and Board representatives will be set up to discuss and deal with the full range of issues and concerns facing Kindergarten Teachers in the Kindergarten program
• confirmation that only Kindergarten Teachers sign the Report Card
• that a central, system-wide message will go out from the Board to all Administrators communicating these agreements
• TDSB does not agree to 4 days release for training, but only to 1.5 days
• TDSB issues system-wide message to teachers, DECEs and principals outlining the five demands
• 100 teachers meet to discuss details of victory and form Kindergarten Teacher - Board Workgroup, as won in the demands
• Members from Think Tank share their experiences of agitation, mobilization, organization and empowerment with their talks with the board
• 25 members sign up for Workgroup

• After pressure from ETT members, board issues two more memos to principals and members answering FAQs
• 12 members meet for first workgroup meeting in preparation for meeting with board
• Six issues are chosen for first meeting, as concerns to be dealt with before the end of June:
  1. Not replacing absent ECEs
  2. Lunch room supervision
  3. Common prep and planning time for teachers and ECEs
  4. Staggered entry
  5. Violence in classrooms
  6. Classes with 15 students and no ECE

• ETT sets date for Summer Organizer Institute: August 23 and 24
• 1088 conversations had with members

Connecting on the Water

Over the past 17 years, ETT has been participating in an annual dragon boat activity with its interested members. The idea behind getting teachers together for Dragon Boating was through the ETT’s Social Committee as a way of connecting with other educators in a more creative, fun way and to end out the school year participating in the International Dragon Boat Festival held each June. At its inception, the committee only had 2 boats, each consisting of 20 members and a non - certified coach because at the time, there wasn’t an option that one could hire a coach from so they made due with a fellow colleague. Dragon Boating is not just about being in the water though.

A lot of organization goes into preparing for this including finding pool space to practice the proper stroke, lifeguards, insurances, times for being on the water at Sunnyside Pavilion, and the rental of boats along with finding availability of the lifejackets and paddles at the Pavilion, all of which is done by fellow colleagues who volunteer their time. Currently there are 4 boats with a total of 80 + participants that range in abilities from beginners to intermediate to advanced. Depending on the numbers as well, there are usually 2 boats that are made up of women paddlers and 2 that are co-ed. The season runs annually from just after March break with introductory socials, team building, to right on the lake for practices each Tuesday after school, rain, shine, sleet or snow, just as long as the winds aren’t too high or it’s thunder storming. Unfortunately this year, 2017, the International Dragon Boat Festival usually held the same weekend as Fathers’ Day had to be cancelled as did the weekly practices due to unusually high water and unsafe conditions. This natural event was unplanned and unexpected and was the first time that something like this has happened in the years that the ETT have been participating in the Dragon Boat Festival held at Toronto Island.

Dragon Boating provides its paddlers with a positive, mental health outlet, and a meaningful weekly check-in. The seasons allow for building relationships both on and off the water and for meeting many great people. Dragon Boating also provides its members with the opportunity to connect with others who are further engaged within our union and has sparked and interest in them to become more involved themselves. As a result, through the years, many boaters have become stewards for their first time, have attended both local General and Annual Meetings, have been a part of the ETT Delegation at the ETFO Annual meetings, some have spoken at Federation Day, and has provided them the support and encouragement to participate in other ETT events (e.g. including being a part of a teaching delegation to the Dominican Republic over a March Break).

At a time when we are trying to further engage our members to be more of a collective, having a constant, weekly event such as Dragon Boating is paramount to this happening. When items are discussed, frustrations and concerns voiced, problems worked through and successes shared with each other, it is not only the people in the boats that are the recipients of the information, but also the members back at the various schools as this has a trickle-down effect.

Paddles up!


TDSB International Languages- An enriching opportunity, but inequitable in its delivery.

“International Languages Elementary and African Heritage
In an increasingly globalized world, it is important to set our students on the path to being active global citizens. The TDSB takes great pride in providing International Languages and African Heritage programs to all students from K to Grade 8. No background knowledge is necessary and we encourage students to explore all languages.” (TDSB website)
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“Integrated Day Program
The Integrated Day program gives all students an opportunity to learn an international language or learn about African Heritage as part of their regular school day. The program is offered in 10 TDSB elementary schools. Language(s) and/or African Heritage programs are chosen based on school demographics in consultation with the school principal and the Parent Council Committees. Schools currently deliver the program in one of two formats, either fully integrated during the day or as a block model timetabled at the end of the school day.” (TDSB website)

At first glance, this program seems wonderful. Students being taught another language or learning about African Heritage without having to register and pay for classes outside the school day may be seen as a privileged opportunity in the eyes of many parents and students. However, in the TDSB, many problems have been identified in the schools that offer the Integrated International Languages and African Heritage programs. One school even felt so strongly against the program that they eliminated it. In the remaining schools that offer the program, many problems persist.

In the 2016-2017 school year, some teachers who work in schools where these programs are offered contacted their Union Executive Officers to talk about the problems and to ask if anything could be done to improve the situation. The Executive Officer contacted other teachers in schools that have the language program and discovered that many teachers were also having problems. A Family of Schools meeting was held after school on December 19, 2016, and teachers gathered together to share their experiences with the International Languages program and how it has impacted their students and the school day. This was a great way for teachers from neighbouring schools to meet and discuss what was happening in their schools and to see that many of their colleagues had the same concerns. These concerns were listed and teachers talked about possible resolutions and what they would like to see happen. Most agreed that the International Languages Program being held during the school day (as opposed to at the end of the day) was highly problematic and that we need to let the school board know about the problems and why we feel this way. Ultimately, many teachers would like to see the program moved to the end of the school day, or else eliminated.

Teachers identified equity issues about the program that are of great concern. These included:
-parents of new students not always being informed about the language program (e.g. especially families of Junior Kindergarten students)
-students not being given the option to choose whether they want to attend a specific language class or the African Heritage class, but being forced to attend the Mandarin class;

In addition to those issues, other concerns are:
-safe management of the classes during IL with language instructors who are not trained teachers
-teachers having to deal with the fallout of behaviour problems either during their non-instructional time or immediately following IL class
-inappropriate timetabling of the IL class (e.g. 2:30-3 pm for Kindergarten and Gr. 1-3 when the school day ends at 3 pm)
-the 30 minute IL class time, therefore forces the timetabling of the entire school schedule into 30 minutes periods
-principals asking teachers to do work-related activities during their non-instructional time (when IL classes are happening)
-IL instructors arriving late resulting in teachers working during non-instructional time
-teachers working extra time as a result of having to pick up classes from IL teachers at the end of the day for dismissal because IL instructors are not allowed to dismiss students
-teachers at IL schools have a later dismissal time than colleagues at non- IL schools

The following school year the Executive Office designed a survey to gather data about the IL classes and the teachers involved. This survey was sent to the Union Stewards at all the IL schools:
(one copy of this document to be filled out for each teacher on staff)
Name of School -
Name of Teacher-
When is IL delivered to your students? (e.g., 1st period, last period, before lunch, etc.)
Specific time period when students take IL? (e.g., 10:30-11:00, 3:00-3:40, etc.)
Is IL delivered in the teacher’s classroom or another classroom?
Does the teacher pick up students and take them to IL class?
Who picks up students from IL class and brings them back to class?
Is the IL program being delivered after school to your students? If so, who is responsible from dismissing students from IL program?
Who takes attendance for IL program?
Who covers when the IL instructor is ill or late?
Any other extra duties required of the teacher related to the IL program (e.g., report cards, filing, etc.)
Any additional meetings required due to the IL program, over and above the monthly staff meeting of no more than 75 minutes?
Any additional teaching requirements due to IL program (co-planning, discussions with instructors, lost prep time, increased supervision time, etc.)
How is the IL program impacting on the grade/subject(s) you are teaching?
Anything else that the teacher would like to add?
Note: Please obtain each teacher’s 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 timetable.

The Executive Office spoke to the Superintendent about the teacher concerns, data forms were returned to the Executive Officer and the concerns and information provided were presented to the Elementary Concerns department of the TDSB. Subsequently a grievance was filed and has now gone to arbitration.
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While we are awaiting a decision about the arbitration it is important to note that this important progress could not have been made without the collective action by the teachers involved with the International Language Program and with the hard work of our local Executive Officer. When we see injustices, we need to work together to find solutions. We have to do what is required to help others understand the problem and seek an equitable solution. When the decision is presented we will hopefully be happy, and if not, we will have to take next steps together in finding a resolution to our ongoing concerns.

Grand Erie DECE Local

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Grand Erie Occasional Teacher Local

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Grand Erie Teacher Local

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Healthy Relationships and Stereotypes

Educators working in the Grand Erie District School were noticing many disparaging attitudes among an unexpected number of boys at the grade seven and eight level. Primarily, the boys did not have a healthy view of what masculinity was and how to properly relate to their female peers. Teachers noticed that the students often referred to students of the opposite sex using demeaning slang phrases and words prevalent in the media they were watching. They often did not think about what such words meant or how they made their peers feel. In addition, it became apparent that these students also were confused about how to respond to other male students who were questioning their gender identity.

A one day conference for grade seven and eight boys.
To address this problem, The Grand Erie Occasional Teachers, The Grand Erie Teachers Federation and the Grand Erie District School Board partnered to fund a one day conference for grade seven and eight boys. Three schools were chosen to attend the conference, one from each of the three districts which the board encompasses. The conference was held on Thursday June 4th, 2015 at the Joseph Brant Learning Center.

"Planting the Seeds of Healthy Masculinity"
The focus this year was "Planting the Seeds of Healthy Masculinity" and the day is separated into three workshops as well as a Keynote Speaker. Lunch was provided and once again we were able to give the boys "No More" t-shirts.

“P.E.A.C.E.” - a rapper from Los Angeles, California
The day began with hip hop artist and keynote speaker Mtulazaji Davis aka “P.E.A.C.E.”. The kids also heard from NiLLa, RaSoul and Testament who brought messages of equal relationships and breaking down stereotypes. The presentation was especially powerful when the boys heard NiLLa, a female hip hop artist speak. She explained to them that she began rapping because she did not like the way woman were being portrayed in rap lyrics. She asked them about ways they have heard women portrayed in rap music and she explained how easily we can accept these stereotypes as reality. She brought her point home by talking about the awards she has received for her music using lyrics that still rhyme and does not disrespect others.

The first of the three afternoon workshops was presented by P.E.A.C.E. and focused on breaking down stereotypes in the media. The group discussed how women and men are portrayed in the media and how everyone does not fit into those stereotypes. They brought it home by asking the boys if they would like their sisters to be portrayed that way. They discussed what real men and real women look like, and how their is no one-size fits all box that fits real men or women. They reinforced that everyone has different interests and those do not diminish their masculinity or femininity


The second session was presented by "No More" and it discussed Healthy Relationships with a Superhero twist. The presenter used Marvel's Iron Man character to discuss relationships between women and men. The boys were asked to make up their own superhero and they examined the stereotypes of both men and women portrayed in contemporary superhero mythology.

Finally, the last session focused on Masculinity was presented by the White Ribbon Campaign. Once again the boys were asked to consider how the media portrays masculinity and then asked them to consider what it means if you do not fit into that mold.

GEETF Logo.gif
Grand Erie Elementary Teacher’s Federation (GEETF):
The “Good Works” Committee

The GOOD WORKS COMMITTEE, comprised of representation from GEETF and the Grand Erie District School Board (GEDSB), began its work in June 2005, to review the then current staffing practices related to percentage teaching assignments. This review would focus on ways to eliminate percentage assignments which were not 0.5 or 1.0 FTE.

This task was undertaken to streamline the staffing process. Both parties (GEETF and GEDSB) agreed that staffing assignments in percentages other than 0.5 or 1.0 created many challenges. Each year the declaration of “surplus-to-school” created many fractured assignments which were difficult to staff at the school level. In addition, many teachers were declared surplus to their school for only a portion of their assignment. This created a very difficult staffing situation.

This committee reviewed all the relevant data as presented by both parties, as well as the financial implications of moving to what we at GEETF call “Halves” and “Wholes”, and presented a report to the Executive Council of the Board, with a recommendation to move forward with a staffing model of 0.5 or 1.0 FTE positions. In the first year, this model would actually save the Board money, almost one million dollars, as it uses Teacher-Librarians and French teachers to deliver preparation time.

The recommendation was agreed to, and this new staffing process was implemented for the 2006-2007 school year.

As with any process, there are “Positives” and “Challenges”.
The “positives” included:__
  • The more stream-lined staffing process
  • The minimum position would be 0.5, which for new teachers especially who are trying to “get their foot in the door”, would be far more appealing than small percentages of a job,
  • Limiting the movement from position to position, while trying to “better their situation”;
  • A guaranteed Teacher-Librarian in every building;
  • For those travelling between buildings for two 0.5 positions, it would minimize that to only 2 schools;
  • Eliminating “bits and pieces” of leaves: they must be either 0.5 or 1.0

The “challenges” included:
  • Not having the flexibility to work more than 0.5 and less than 1.0 (i.e. working 4 days out of 5)
  • The loss of some library administration time as the Teacher-Librarian would deliver preparation time through the library program

As it is our mandate as a union to represent the "collective good", the positives of the "Halves" and "Wholes" formula for staffing far outweigh the challenges. We at GEETF have had this system for almost 8 years now, and the staffing process is much more efficient, and, dare I say, much less stressful, than trying to piece together a position from small bits and pieces of different jobs.


Greater Essex County Occasional Teacher Local

In our school board (Greater Essex County Disctrict School Board) we are faced with many health and safety concerns each and every year. Right now, our struggle is providing Occasional Teachers with keys to their classrooms in the event of a lockdown or other emergency. Very few schools in the board provide OTs with keys to classrooms, let alone to portables or swipe keys to get back into the school. We have spoken with the superintendents, and have been repeatedly been met with the statement that it is too difficult to provide keys to every classroom in the school. We also have been met with opposition from the school administration who are concerned about receiving keys back at the end of the day.

Unfortunately we have made very little progress with the school board on this issue. We are hoping that we will be able to see some movement on this issue as we go into local bargaining in 2015 and provincial bargaining. We do have some schools in our board who do make sure that they provide every guest teacher with a key, but those schools are few and far between. At the moment, the only contingency plan we have in the event of a lockdown is to ensure that the door remains locked at all times, causing headaches for students and teachers alike. We would like to see a better solution than this, just the sake of children's safety across the school board and across the province.

Image result for classroom key
Image result for classroom key

As of December 2016, there has been some success in this previously stated issue however it still remains to be resolved uniformly across all schools in our local school board. School board officials agreed that this was an important issue and reiterated its commitment toward resolving the issue of providing classroom keys to occasional teachers. After some time our local president asked OT’s to provide detailed information as to which schools were providing keys and which schools were not. It became apparent that resolution to this issue was being taken care of by some, but not all schools.

During a TBRC meeting in the spring of 2016 our executive discussed observed best practices among those schools that provided keys. School Board officials vowed to communicate personally with administrators of schools that were not providing keys, while also, passing on best practice information to schools needing assistance. In our board, an OT receives a red folder which includes important information regarding health and safety, schedules, maps, and student information to be read before the day school day begins. Many schools have included small pockets containing classroom keys. Others have created binders that have the key rings easily seen to insure their return at the end of the day.

This is still an on-going struggle and continues to be so as successes are celebrated and non-cooperation is seemingly unseen. Indeed this is an issue that needs to be continuously brought to the for-front so that all schools are following this initiative. As this is an issue that OT’s continue to fight for I think it is paramount that we do not falter by becoming complacent. By remaining steadfast our members receive the full impact of being supported in their profession by a dedicated union. In addition, our members should be able to see local successes and their concerns fully addressed. In the near future we plan to send to our members another survey/questionnaire that asks OT’s to list schools where they receive or do not receive keys.

During the collective bargaining period of 2015 OT’s saw a dramatic and extreme drop in work hours in September, October and November of that year. Our president received many calls of inquiry and concern from our members who were being hurt financially. In December of that same year our executive generously gave out $100 gift cards to every member of our local. For those members that declined or did not need the gift card we in turn donated them to a local charity. This support impacted our members financially, but also by demonstrating support and solidarity during a difficult period.

The Half Day Conundrum

When we were children at school we had two 15-20 minute recesses and a 55-60 minute lunch break. The school day was split into two halves.

Several years ago our Board as well as Boards across the Province began to implement the balanced day system. This would break the day into three 100 minute blocks with two 40-50 minute breaks in between. The Balanced Day was begun as a pilot project amongst only a few schools and once the pilot project came to an end the Board began to phase in all other schools.

In our Board, the 2015/2016 school year was the end of the phasing process and all schools became balanced day. Our contract teachers can call in an OT for a half day assignment or a full day. Under the old system an OT could be called to one school for a half day in the morning and spend lunch time traveling to a different school for an afternoon assignment.

The implementation of the Balanced Day means that OTs are leaving an assignment in the middle of a 100 minute block thus leaving no time to travel to the next assignment. This leaves an OT with only a half day instead of being able to earn full day wages. Several of our OTs have opted not to accept the half day assignments in the hopes of receiving a full day. Many end up not working at all. We have several OTs who accept the half day assignment but end the week with only 2.5 days worked because they only received half day calls.

The Local Executive has offered several options to the Half Day Conundrum. Some work some of the time but the problem still exists. Some of our suggestions have been turned down without discussion.

The Solutions we have suggested:
1.Have the contract teacher change the end/start time of the assignment by 2-3 minutes. If the assignment is to end at 11:40, the contract teacher would enter 11:38 as the end time. The computer will then recognize that we are available for a shift that starts at 11:40.
2.Have schools allow us to be ten to fifteen minutes late as we travel from a nearby school. The OT has the responsibility of calling the second school and gaining permission to be late. If the school accepts the OT then travels between schools after the first assignment is complete. If the school says they can’t accommodate the OT it is up to the school to call and cancel the OT.
3.Have the person working at the Board call us directly to fill a half day assignment that occurs within the same school we are in.
4.Let us see the available jobs in-order-to choose assignments that are in-close-proximity to each other because a computer doesn’t understand geography.

Half Days continue to be something we spend a lot of time talking about in meetings with our Board. It is also the subject of many phone calls and emails we receive at the Local office.

Greater Essex Teacher Local

Bill 115 Response

In Greater Essex, our Political Action committee takes an active role promoting the interests of public education and of our members. After the passage of Bill 115, the committee decided it was important to send a message that education workers would not sit idly by an allow our constitutional rights to be taken away. The political action committee passed a motion, later approved by the local executive, to actively support the NDP candidate in Windsor West with the intention of defeating the Liberal cabinet minister holding the seat and the PCs. The committee arranged for OTs to be released to the campaign. Various committee members volunteered to work on the campaign in various roles and an ETFO phone tree was set up for the committee members to call all our members and discuss the strategy we had decided upon for the election.

ETFO provincial in Toronto said no provincial resources would be provided because support of the New Democrats was not part of the provincial strategy in this election. However, the local was free to pursue its own strategy without provincial support.

On election day the NDP candidate, Lisa Gretzky, was elected by a slim plurality of 1 022 votes. The Liberal, Teresa Piruzza, was the only Liberal incumbent defeated in the 2014 provincial election. Our Greater Essex ETFO was instrumental in sending the message to local politicians that taking away teachers’ rights would have a political cost. Lisa Gretzky was named education critic soon after swearing in at Queen’s Park. In that portfolio, she was an effective advocate for public education and the rights of education workers.

Greater Essex County Teacher Local
The onset of full day Kindergarten coupled with class sizes that often exceed 30 students, members approached our local president, Adelina Cecchin expressing their concerns over noise levels. In turn, Adelina reached out to other FDK teachers who expressed similar concerns. Always collaborative, Adelina reached out to the OSSTF president who represents DECE's in this school board who shared many of the same concerns over noise levels.

A survey was developed in order to gain clarification in the form of feedback. Subsequently, they explored available research discussing the intersection of learning and noise. Experts were consulted and remedy explored. Based on survey feedback and research information, a power point presentation was created and shared with senior administration.

Workshops were developed and and offered to members, along with a strategy paper on how to address the issue with principles. Along with trustees, school visits were scheduled to hear first hand really how loud things were.

Based on this, a second survey was developed to confirm original findings and these results were presented to trustees.

An affected member pursued a WSIB claim for voice and vocal cord strain issues, and the claim was approved.

One of the DECE members was simultaneously involved in a ministry of labour matter regarding these issues and ETFO joined the struggle. In order to resolve the issue satisfactorily, the school board and unions agreed to a settlement about how to address the issue moving forward.

Several key players were instrumental in moving the issue to resolution. Senior board administrators, health and safety board officer, trustees, GECDSB member and an OSSTF counterpart successfully maneuvered the obstacles.

The biggest of which was that the decibel level of 85 was not in excess of the legal limit needed to legally require active solutions. Based on good learning environment pedagogy coupled with the negative impact on teachers, students and DECEs, it was agreed to move forward.

Recommendations for remedy included hiring reverberation experts to develop guidelines to examine classrooms in terms of hard surface areas in order to calculate reverberation levels. Using these guidelines, those classrooms that have noise issues will be looked at being retrofitted with acoustical ceiling tiles and panel boards (to reduce hum.)

One school has been identified and these efforts will be put into place starting there. Secondly, both presidents will submit list of those schools identified n the surveys, along with any new builds that may require remediation of the noise issue. The third wave will consist of those schools not yet identified but may also present an inappropriate noise level.

Implementation of these recommendations is beginning. Consensus between board and union regarding the list of identified schools is pending and conversations have begun.

Of the many challenges that our Greater Essex Local has faced over the years, a document that has become the cornerstone for assessment and evaluation, Growing Success, stands out as both a struggle and a victory for our Local. When this Ministry document first emerged, Boards across the province had discretion as to its implementation, and our Board prescribed unrealistic expectations for teachers to complete around report cards.
To prepare, our Local took a careful look at Growing Success, consulted with legal counsel, and then approached the Board about coming to reasonable settlement on this issue. The Board, entrenched in its position, would not move off these expectations, nor acknowledge the integral component of teacher professional judgement. It seemed like both sides were at an impasse, and, if the Local chose the grievance route, it could end up being a lengthy process. In addition, a grievance would not address the immediate problem at hand which teachers were facing around this significant increase to their workload.
In light of what was unfolding, the Local made a decision to challenge the Board’s position by carefully informing teachers of what was happening and rallying members around the position of teacher professional judgement as defined in Growing Success. Members immediately responded and collectively mobilized around this position. Teachers were upset and did not want to simply allow the Board to make these unrealistic demands. Our members became vocal and engaged, and it became very clear to the Board the level of discontent that existed with our teachers. It was a palpable presence that was spreading.
In response, the Board called the Local into an impromptu meeting, and asked point blank: “What’s it going to take to resolve this issue?” This was the turning point. The Board had not expected this kind of response by our members and wanted this matter resolved. In the meeting, both sides built and negotiated a joint understanding around Growing Success. This discussion became the basis of a new position, one that more reasonably managed report card expectations and recognized teacher professional judgement. The Local had achieved success in their efforts. And at the heart, it was a victory for the membership. It exemplified that change is always possible through the power of solidarity!
* Special thanks to Adelina for her input and thoughts

Nevertheless She Persisted...

GECDSB ETFO has had some struggles this past year and a half. We are still in the midst of trying to solve our disputes but I do feel like success is now possible whereas at the beginning of this debate, I would have thought this would never come to fruition. I have decided not to use the names of key players in this historical account. We have however, had much assistance from the Federation and I would like to credit those people for their contribution; thank you to James Taylor and Kelley Hayes for your ongoing support and patience in dealing with our Local.
Up until this past Spring Annual Local Meeting our Constitution stated that we would guarantee Local Leadership Positions for Women and that there would be guaranteed funding for Women’s programs. Our Constitution did not say how these positions or money would be guaranteed and when our Local Human Rights and PD committees entered a Women’s only program from Federation into their budgets in the Fall of 2016, their requests were denied. The reasoning behind the denial was that in 2002 we became a “gender free” Local with a “gender free” Constitution. Thus started a long and heated year and a half of adversarial stands resulting in a very divisive Executive and Local membership.
In December, thanks to a EWS led ad-hoc committee with 10 Executive members in attendance, we concluded three days of discovery and healing. Here is the history recorded of how we got to where we were and how we are now moving forward.

Beginning of GECDSB ETFO 1998
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Image result for women leadership

1) Funding of Women’s Programs was guaranteed

2) There was a Status of Women Committee
3) 2nd VP non-released Position was guaranteed to a woman

1) Our City and County Boards merged so 1 VP was designated from each
2) 6% funding for Women’s Programs

1) One survey question was sent to all members asking if our Local should continue to guarantee Women’s positions and funding for Women’s Programs. Overwhelming results not in favour of either.
2) When the results of the survey came to the floor of the Local Annual AGM with a motion to remove both resolutions, they were deemed out of order by the Parliamentarian and this is why they remained in our Constitution for the next 15 years.

1) Women’s program funding (not sure if it was 6%)
2) Status of Women Committee- started to change to Gender Issues Committee
3) Female only VP position

1) 6% funding for Gender Issue Programs
2) Status of Women, Gender Issues Committees placed under umbrella of Human Rights Committee

For a while these things remained: Women’s Program Funding, Status of Women Committee and a Female only VP position. Over time the protected position was not enforced although it did remain in the Constitution. The Status of Women became a Gender Issues Committee which then became part of the mandate for the Human Rights Committee.
In 2015, the Human Rights and PD Committees jointly asked for funding to bring Women in Action to Windsor. Their budgets were approved but due to timing constraints the WIA program was not brought to Windsor. The following year when funding was requested it was denied based on the “gender free” decision of 2002 but we did not understand at that point why it was not taken out of the Constitution. A member of our Executive put forth a motion the “we remain gender free” and with much debate that motion was passed by the Executive. Later, after new evidence was presented and after consultation by the Federation it was suggested that that motion be rescinded but it was not.
At the Spring AGM, our Local tried to remove from the Constitution the guaranteed positions for women but that was deemed out of order and remains. Guaranteed funding for women’s programs were removed but at the Fall Executive meeting the Parliamentarian stated that just because “guaranteed funding” for Women’s Programs was removed from the Constitution it was still within the Committees’ Rights to ask for funding for those programs within their Committee budgets. Again, the requests were denied.

November 2017
The EWS Ad-Hoc Committee met for the first time with a Federation EWS member. This 3 day Ad-Hoc Committee was formed at the approval of the Local Executive and will be providing recommendations to the Executive in January 2018. We discussed at length the history of Women’s programs and designated positions. We made plans for how to move forward with the executive and the membership. These will be included in the recommendations to the Executive.
At this point, I feel like no further details can be shared. It is now up to the Executive and the membership to move forward but I do feel like some fences have been mended and that everybody’s voice was heard. As this school year progresses, I will update the progress of our initiative and hopefully it will be a successful venture in bringing equity, unity and social justice to our local.

Thanks Adelina for your support and leadership!

Image result for women leadership
Image result for women leadership

Community Forums in Greater Essex
On December 15th, 2016 and April 12th, 2017, the Greater Essex Political Action Committee held two community forums. The purpose of these community discussions was to invite the public to engage with teachers, and to have open dialogue around some mutually concerning issues. Through these discussions the PAC hoped to inform the public about some of the concerns facing teachers today, and also forge better relationships with the public through these open and unscripted conversations. The subjects discussed at the various tables were School Closures, Special Education Support, Class Size, Safe Schools, Poverty and Fundraising and Standardized Testing.
On January 23rd two members of the PAC travelled to Toronto along with Mario Spagnuolo, First Vice-President of the Greater Essex local. They were there to attend the Community Forums training session at the Provincial ETFO office. Mario was invited to present as one of the panelists for the “Case Studies of Successful Community Organizing”. In this way, the community forums held in Windsor benefitted a much larger cross section of our membership, as the local leaders present at this training session were able to learn from the experiences of the Greater Essex PAC, and take that information home to hold successful community forums in their own locals. Here below are some pictures - one of our community forum flyers, our proud PAC members, and Adelina Cecchin, our local president, addressing the room at our second Community Forum event.

pac collage.jpg

Halton DECE Local


Halton DECE’s became a part of ETFO back in 2011. We signed our first collective agreement with the board in November 2011. Supplemental Employment Benefit (SEB) is a benefit that was negotiated in a collective agreement. Halton DECE collective agreement has a provision for 100 percent top up for 6 weeks and 100 percent top up for 2 week waiting period from EI. In 2013 a member on maternity leave felt that the Board must have made a miscalculation and underpaid her SEB top up benefit. Therefore, she did her own calculations on what she thought she should receive as a compensation for 8 weeks total top up. The member sent her calculations to an HR administrator questioning the small amount she had recieved as one lump sum payment.
(Please note that the numbers presented here are not actual but numerical representation for demonstration purposes only)

Member’s Calculations
Members Yearly Salary over 40 weeks
Weekly income over 40 weeks
If EI benefit were
Board top up should be
2 week waiting period (2x1000)
Therefore, 6 week board top up should be (6x400)
Total Payment to member

Please note that the member took 40 weeks paid work as basis for her calculations.

Board Calculations

Yearly Salary
Daily rate calculated over 365 days. (40000/365)
Weekly rate
Based on this calculation 2 week waiting period would generate
6 week top up was calculated based on the difference between the EI payment $600 and the weekly rate $767.20
Bringing the 6 week top up to
Total 8 week payment by the board

Please note that the board took 40 week paid work and spread it over 365 days to come up with the daily rate to calculate top up entitlement to supplement EI.

The difference of almost $2,000 and the fact that the board used 365 days to calculate a 205 days paid job left the member scratching her head. She then contacted her union for assistance.

The union president took her concerns seriously and brought it to the attention of ETFO Provincial staff officer for Halton DECE local. The staff officer then further brought this to the attention of the legal counsel within the ETFO organization. Legal counsel saw enough evidence and agreed that the calculations should not have been taken over 365 days and preceded to the grievance process.

In 2013 our local union filed a grievance against the board. Based on the fact that the board was in violation with respect to the calculation of EI SEB top up benefits. Through this process the board agreed that the calculations were applied to the DECE group in the same fashion as the teacher group, which misrepresented the DECE’s and their wages. Therefore, they agreed to settle which included recalculating the SEB top up payment for DECE members. Based on the recalculations each of the affected members received on average an additional $1,500. The grievance also led to a change in the way the Board calculates SEB leave top up amounts and therefore the other employee groups will benefit going forward as well as their top up payments were going to be calculated based on 205 days instead of 365.
This shows a Union as a financial benefit who is willing to fight for their member’s rights. This was a first of many battles won which not only benefited the members of our local but it also benefited our sister locals.

OAmy Poster 1.jpg The Campaign.jpgAmy Poster 2.jpgAmy Facebook post.jpgFB 1.jpgAmy small postcard - back and front.jpgFB 2.jpg

My entry is a necessary time stamp in the history of our federation because it marks a local members struggle; adversity; and defeat in a 2017 campaign for a seat on provincial executive. But the victory itself is born out of the defeat, the back story and its significance not only on her local level but how it transcends on the grand scale of our whole union and its history.

Amy Korzack is the president of the Halton DECE local. As an early childhood educator member, she is only 1 of 2273 DECE members in our Federation which is equal to only 2.9% of overall ETFO membership (member records, 2018). Although there are DECE members from all around Ontario working on provincial standing committees, Amy is the first DECE to ever run for such a high profile position.

Her campaign itself wasn’t seamless either, her campaign manager had a family emergency and was not able to be at AGM so naturally at the last minute, DECE delegates from locals across our province rallied behind their candidate and her message of “commitment and moving forward together”.

On a local level, her work and high showing during her election campaign (she missed out on a seat by only 11 votes) transcended anything that could have been anticipated.

There is of course no evidenced based proof that Amy's increased provincial profile as the first non OCT to run for provincial executive is directly linked to increased participation but there is “local statistical evidence to celebrate a 30-40% increase in member participation on our local committees; social media accounts and mailings".

Attached to this entry is the important campaign materials, screen shots of local member support, pictures and the full video of her 2017 speech.

Dubbed as Wonder Woman by many in her local, Amy continues to work tirelessly in her local and stays true to her commitment locally and her ambition to further that work provincially while eyeing another future run at provincial executive. MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER.

UNION SCHOOL 2017/2018Stay tuned.

Halton Occasional Teacher Local



The Halton Elementary Occasional Teacher Local (HEOT) has had many victories over the years. Our biggest achievement in the last round of bargaining was attaining bi-weekly pay for our members.

In the past, we would get paid for our work once a month at the end of the month. In addition, the pay was delayed by a month, leaving members waiting for up to 9 weeks to be paid. For example, we wouldn’t get paid for all days worked in June until the end of July. This was not acceptable and was identified as our number one issue at the bargaining table.

Our President researched this issue with the other Occasional Teacher locals and through the responses discovered that Rainbow was the only other OT local that still received monthly pay. All other OT locals already earned bi-weekly pay.

This issue took over 3 years to resolve. In the Spring of 2012, our President and First Vice-President met with the Senior Manager of Human Resources and the Manager of Payroll to discuss this issue and to express our concerns. Our initial request was to have the pay dates remain at the end of each month with the pay period to end on the 15th of each month. We also pursued the possibility of bi-weekly pay.

The Board representatives said that they understood the problem and would “look into it.” However, the situation remained unchanged.

Over the next few years, HEOT continued to pursue an acceptable resolution to this matter at all Employee Relations meetings and in informal discussions with the Payroll department. Again, nothing happened, with the rationale that any changes in the status quo would be “too costly.”

Looking ahead to December 1, 2015 (the last day of bargaining), the Board offered HEOT bi-weekly paycheques, in hopes of achieving an agreement. HEOT happily agreed to this change that had been pursued for so many years, and a tentative collective agreement with the Board was signed that day.

Please see the excerpt from our collective agreement below:



a) Both Short Term Occasional and Long Term Occasional Teachers shall be paid a per diem rate of pay for the number of days actually worked in the month. Effective September 1, 2016, both Short Term and Long Term Occasional Teachers shall be paid on a bi-weekly basis.

b) The normal pay date shall be the last working day of the month for the Long Term Occasional and for the Short Term Occasional Teacher. Effective September 1, 2016, both Short Term and Long Term Occasional Teachers shall be paid on a bi-weekly basis.

c) Occasional Teachers shall be paid on a monthly/bi-weekly basis by direct deposit into the bank, trust company or credit union account designated by the Teacher. It is the responsibility of the Occasional Teacher to notify in writing, the Payroll Supervisor, three (3) weeks in advance of the pay date, if there is a change in the financial institution and/or account number. Failure to supply the Payroll Department with this information will result in delays in payment of wages owing.

This success has had a very positive impact for our members because we now get paid for our work more frequently and expeditiously. In addition, the Halton Teacher local and the Halton OSSTF Occasional Teacher local were also granted bi-weekly pay with their new collective agreements, resulting in all Halton District School Board employees now being paid on a bi-weekly basis. A victory to be proud of, indeed!

Nicole D’Angelo
Union School 2017

Nicole D'Angelo (wearing ETFO toque), picketing with another HEOT member, December 2012

Halton OTs win Timetable of the Teacher! 2004
Sets precedence in Grievance won 2010
I have been with the Halton District School Board since 1988 as an OT. Before Union days one could expect to go into a school, be moved assignments at the whim of the principal and expected to cover any duties the teacher assigned you. This often included other teacher's supervision coverage. No such thing as preps, you were usually assigned to another teachers class giving them free time. Often I would teach at a local private school where numbers were smaller and timetable of the teacher was followed even in the 1990s!
Since the inception of ETFO local presidents fought for timetable of the teacher but in 1999-2000 Agreement the best they could negotiate was:
"Wherever possible, as determined by the school administration, the timetable for an Occasional teacher shall be the same as the timetable of the teacher who is being replaced.
In 2002-04 some progress was made with the following addition:
......the timetable(including supervision periods and yard duties) for an Occasional Teacher shall be the same as the timetable of the teacher who is being replaced.
A small gain, you could no longer be given everyone's duty for the day!
In 2004-08 we made the greatest strides!
19.04 a) The timetable for the Occasional Teacher shall be the same as the timetable of the teacher being replaced.
b) Notwithstanding Article 19.04 a) above,
i) An Occasional Teacher shall not be assigned any yard duty or bus duty prior to the commencement of class on the first morning of an assignment or prior to commencement of the afternoon class on the first day if it is a half-day afternoon assignment. It is understood that a comparable duty may be assigned by the Principal during the day.
ii) An Occasional Teacher may be required to assist regular teachers to cover classes on a day when a school does not receive the appropriate allotment of Occasional Teachers to cover teacher absences.
iii) The Board shall post an assignment on the Halton Absentee Reporting and Replacement system in order to bring in an Occasional Teacher for the purpose of the repayment of preparation time for the regular teachers.
iv) For the one day occasional teaching assignment, if the timetable of the teacher being replaced has more than one block of planning time, the principal shall have the prerogative to assign other professional assignments to the Occasional Teacher during that planning time in excess of the one block.

Still, having it in our contract and enforcing it were two different things. Few OTs would come forward if the agreement was not being followed.
We managed to keep the wording in our 2008-12 contract but now we had to fight to make sure it was enforced!
OTs need to be brave enough to come forward if their rights are trampled on. Our local president fought these irregularities from one school to the next. The Board was constantly reminded to educate administration concerning our rights and to honour the Collective Agreement.

The big break came in 2010 when the president grieved "Timetable of the teacher" and won! The OT had been assigned other work on her prep (part of the teacher's timetable). She received 1/6 of a day's pay as part of the settlement. The President had won all of us a "precedent setting" victory.

The Board must continue to honour our collective agreement, especially timetable of the teacher or school administration risk repercussions. Since this time, schools have been charged for costs resulting from breaking our Collective Agreement!
Bette Anne Stevenson Union School 14
Al Bero, President, HEOT

Halton Teacher Local

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ETFO Halton Negotiates Amendments to Accessing Personal Day

Members of the Halton Local and the Halton District school board have had a long-standing article in the collective agreement around a personal day for teachers. As far back as 1992, the agreement of accessing a personal day was conditional upon the approval of a representative for the school board. This representative has changed throughout the years from the Superintendent of School Services to the Superintendent of Human Resources and most recently, the Manager of Human Resources-Elementary or designate.

The agreement for accessing this personal day read, “a Member may be granted a leave of absence for reasonable personal reasons” but no specific reasons were listed in the Collective Agreement until 2004. There was a Letter of Agreement added to this Collective Agreement, which outlined possible reasons for accessing the personal day, but the letter also stated that the use of the personal day was not limited to reasons listed. In 2008, the Letter of Agreement was modified with the addition of more possible reasons for accessing this leave. In some cases, the School Board representative denied members request for accessing the personal day because the reason for accessing the leave was not deemed “reasonable” to the school board. This caused a great deal of frustration for ETFO Halton Members.

After several attempts to bargain for the ability to access the personal day without approval from the school board, ETFO Halton had finally made major strides in this area. In August 2013, ETFO Halton and the Halton District School Board agreed on changing the process for members requesting a Personal Day. Similarly to previous agreements, Members must provide three instructional days notice to their Principal that they wish to access their Personal Day on a specific date. However, the major gain that was achieved through bargaining was that no approval for accessing the day would be required and that members are not required to provide a reason for accessing the personal day. The only exception to this provision is if a Member’s principal advises the Member that there is an extraordinary need for he/she to be in attendance at his/her school on that day. Additionally, Members are not able to access a personal day on a PA/PD day or to extend the holidays including Christmas Break, March Break, Easter or Summer Break.

The changes to the process of accessing a personal day was a victory for ETFO Halton as now all Members will be treated equitably when accessing this leave day. It is a monumental achievement for Members in the local because it allows for greater independence from the school board’s control over teacher’s leave. Successful bargaining like the above mentioned achievement aides in our continuous strides to be recognized and treated like professionals, and the work of the union is met with gratitude each time a member uses this day. This win is greatly appreciated across the membership.

ETFO Halton Local Adds New Release Position
In 2006 the ETFO Halton Local was successful in negotiating a fourth released position to serve our members. The new position that was created was Staff Officer/Health and Safety.

This position was filled in January 2007 by the then current chair of the Health and Safety Committee, John Henley.

John has had extensive training across the province in Health and Safety which he uses to support our members through LTDI claims, training and information. He has obtained a certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from Mohawk College and has gained valuable information by being an instructor with the Workers Health and Safety Centre.

John has been instrumental in enhancing the language in our Collective Agreement around Health and Safety concerns for our members. New language to the Collective Agreement since the addition of the Staff Officer/Health and Safety is written below in bold print.


  1. i) The Board shall make reasonable provisions for a safe and healthful environment for Members. Both parties will cooperate with regard to the duties and obligations under the occupational Health and Safety Act and its accompanying regulations.
  2. ii) The Board and ETFO recognize the importance of promoting a safe and healthy environment for employees and of fulfilling their respective duties and obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its accompanying Regulations.

27.00.01 – Workplace Safety and Insurance
Each Member who is injured in the course of employment shall have Workplace Safety and Insurance benefits supplemented from the Member’s sick leave account to provide for the payment of up to the Member’s full salary. In the event that a Member does not wish to use the sick leave credits to supplement the Workplace Safety and Insurance benefits, the Member must give notice in writing within three (3) instructional days to the Manager of Human Resources - Elementary. After the expiration of any Workplace Safety and Insurance award, the Member may use the current year’s sick leave or accumulated credits up to the limit previously established.

Halton Negotiates two additional released positions, adds new Vice President.
With the rapid growth of Burlington and Oakville since the 1990s, and Milton’s explosion since 2000, the Halton District School Board has seen an almost continuous increase in the number of students, and therefore Teachers. The growth in Local membership, coupled with the creation of ETFO and the changing face of negotiations, all of which have taken place in the last 20 years, have created an increase in demand on the local office for Member support and services.

Prior to 2007 there were three released officers of the local; the President, Vice President and Chief Negotiator. An active Health and Safety committee of the local, with a Health and Safety Representative who remained a classroom teacher already existed in Halton. With the work that this member was doing on behalf of Health and Safety (including his participation on the Joint Health and Safety Committee) it was decided that it would be in our Members’ best interests to have this position as an additional released position. The round of negotiations that concluded in 2004 saw the negotiation of this 4th position within the collective agreement. Since that time, the Local office has consisted of two elected officers (President and Vice President) and two hired Staff officers (Chief Negotiator and Health and Safety Officer).

By 2013, the increasing workload for our released officers led to discussions around the need for something to be done. Given the very difficult round of negotiations (or lack thereof) that we had just come through, we were not confident of negotiating an additional released position. In 2014, the Local hired a consultant who looked at office workload and job distribution. Her recommendations including adding a fifth released position. As a temporary support, and to implement some of the other recommendations for improvement, the Local released one member for a special one year project in 2014-15 while negotiations took place, still hoping we might be able to gain an additional officer under the collective agreement terms: Any member on leave under Article 12 shall be granted such leave without loss of salary, benefits, actual teaching experience with the Board for seniority purposes, sick leave or any other benefits that would accrue to the Member under the Articles of this Agreement provided the Bargaining Unit reimburses the Board for all costs arising for the replacement members. The salary portion of the costs shall be calculated at Category A2, Step 0.

Meanwhile, back at the Local office, the need for a fifth officer was deemed so necessary that it was determined we may need to add the position on our own cost if the board would at least agree to the release of a member. To facilitate this money from accumulated surplus was set aside to help fund the addition of a fifth officer entirely out of the local budget if that were necessary. One of the Local bargaining goals in the 2014 round of negotiations was securing an additional released officer under the terms of the collective agreement. Arguments in favour included the ratio of members to released officers in light of the growth of the local in recent years, as well as the comparison to our OSSTF brothers and sisters who have 3 released officers for only just over 1200 members locally.

While the provincial negotiations were proving to be very difficult, locally we managed to not only secure the release of a fifth, but a future sixth person when deemed necessary by the Local under the same conditions which already existed. In the fall of 2015 Halton ETFO members elected an additional Vice President.

Members to released positions in Halton ETFO Teacher Local.

ETFO Halton Successfully Bargains for 75-minute Cap on Staff Meetings

Before the 2008 bargaining round, staff meetings in Halton were unregulated. There were major inconsistencies between schools in terms of length, content, and amount of meetings per month. Principals could and would often change days and times of meetings and still expect all staff to attend.

Our local identified unregulated staff meetings as a problem for our members and made this issue a priority during bargaining. During bargaining, it was agreed to by both our local and our school board that staff meetings be limited to 75 minutes once per month as well as the dates of all staff meetings be communicated to staff in September.

29.04.00 – Staff Meetings (from our 2008-2012 Collective Agreement)
i) Regular staff meetings shall be scheduled by the Principal in consultation with the teaching staff and upon consensus whenever possible.
ii) Regularly scheduled staff meetings shall be held no more than once per month on average.
iii) Each meeting shall be no more than 75 minutes in length.
iv) The dates of the regular staff meetings shall be set within the first month of the school year and communicated to all teachers.
v) Regularly scheduled staff meetings may include administrative/organizational issues, professional development, training and other matters aligned with school and board goals.
vi) Teachers are expected to attend regularly scheduled staff meetings.
vii) Teachers may submit agenda items to the Principal for consideration.

Gaining consistency throughout our local has helped improve staff morale surrounding staff meetings. It has limited the amount of other meetings that staff “must” attend. Consistency was not just a benefit for our members, but the board and the system as a whole also benefits from the efficiency of the regulated staff meetings.

While the length and amount of meetings per month have become regulated and consistent across our local, the content of staff meetings remains very inconsistent. Some schools report that staff meetings are PD meetings in which there is very little discussion about school issues. Some other schools report that while staff meetings mainly deal with school issues, that their administrators have implemented “Lunch & Learn” meetings, in which staff can feel pressure to attend. There is still nothing in our local Collective Agreement which addresses division meetings – so many members still feel pressure to attend and prepare the necessary work to participate in these meetings.

The Struggle The Beginnings of the I AM ETFO HALTON campaign
Member engagement is often talked about at Labour events, we are no different in Halton.
In 2013 the I AM ETFO Halton campaign was born. The campaign was initiated by 3 of the Local’s attendees to the 2013/14 session of Union School along with support from the Local’s Political Action and Public Relations Committees.

The drive of the campaign was to increase member engagement by having members truly identify themselves as part of their union.

The Logo:
The I AM ETFO Halton Logo was built around the Local’s current logo which was developed under the guidance of former Halton Teacher and Local Executive member Joyce Gaudette. Versions of the new logo were presented to the Local Executive.

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The Brand
In order to promote the brand and new campaign, several actions were undertaken. Branded items were produced and sent out to all members.
The new logo joined the header of the Local web page and also appears on many pieces of general correspondence.
Banners were purchased for events and are proudly displayed in the Local Office for all to see.


Member Engagement
In order to reach members and promote the brand several new initiatives were undertaken.
Under the direction of Heather Duplain, Elizabeth Norman and Carol Moores, members were asked to share their stories on how their Union has had an impact on them. These testimonials were taped and compiled into a video presentation which is shown at Local events to all members.
News or videos from I AM ETFO Halton are now regular agenda items at all Stewards’ Council and Executive meetings.

In November first year members are invited to a 3 day Open House at the Local Office to meet Released Officers and Executive along with receiving information on the supports available to them from the Union and information about committees. At the Open House each new teacher receives an I AM ETFO Halton bag full of resources and branded items. The goal of having the Open House at the Local Office and providing branded items is to have new members make a concrete connection between themselves and their union.


In January of 2015 the @IAMETFOHalton Twitter account was launched to promote the activities of the Local.

The Results….so far

All member surveys have provided positive feedback on the I AM ETFO Halton campaign with a 97% approval rating from respondents. This initiative will continue on in the Local as a vehicle to engage and connect members with their union.

Local Elections Reviewed

After many years of poor voter turnout at Local elections, a new group of released officers ran on a platform of electoral reform. In the Spring of 2017, the executive passed a motion which created an Ad Hoc committee tasked with recommending to the executive what the electoral process should look like. Early it was decided that the committee needed the actual input of the membership at large, and devoted several weeks and two meetings to the development of a large membership survey. As well as collecting a wide variety of data on voter behaviour in the previous election, the survey undertook to collect some demographic data.

Though the information collected was valuable, it was not surprising.
•Roughly 80% of the teachers are women
•Less than 9% self-identify as one of the designated groups other than 'women'
•51% of teachers are in years 6-15 of their career (with slightly less than that as permanent teachers in the board)
•interest in participating in elections as they are currently organized is less than 60 (out of 100)
◦when you take out the score of people who are very interested in elections, the overall score drops to 31 (out of 100)
•roughly half of respondents have participated in some form of Local workshop

The data is clear, the Halton Teacher Local do have a large number of individual teachers who appear to be accessing Local resources as they need them over the long term. They may not show up to a large number of events, but when it is something they find meaningful and convenient, they attend.

The questions relating to the elections are very clear in their recommendations for the Ad Hoc, and thus the Executive.

When asked why they voted, the top responses were:
•I knew one of the candidates (34%)
•It matters to me who represents the Local (34%)
•All other responses represent less than 20%

When asked why they didn't vote, the top responses were:
•The timing/location was not convenient (37%)
•I didn't know enough about the candidates (33.65%)
•I had family care responsibilities (29.38%)
•I had personal commitments (22.9%)
•It didn't matter to me who was elected (22.75%)
•All other responses below 10%

When asked which method of voting they most wanted us to employ, the results werevery clear when looking at their frst choice:
•Online - 61.49%
•Worksite - 20%
•All-Member meeting - 12.17%
•Area voting - 5.37%

The committee met in November to discuss the data, and spent several hours having an in depth and hearty discussion of what the data meant. They weighed several different options with how to proceed. They reviewed the cost of the previous online vote (slightly over $10,000), and paired it with the potential costs of an all-member vote.
The most significant discussion was surrounding the differences between online and in-school votes. The committee talked about in-school voting being a strong possibility as a result of it being the overwhelming 2nd choice of respondents, as well as the method more likely to garner a higher percentage of votes. However, the committee did end up deciding that they would recommend the Executive move that they endorse online voting as the preferred method.

The overwhelming first choice of respondents was a move to online voting, online speeches, and online candidate material. When looking at the data from the perspective of several different voting groups there was only one clear method that was preferred as the number 1 choice, and that was Online.

The committee is going to recommend that there are changes to the voting methodology employed by the Local. There are, however, still some outstanding issues that the committee wanted to further examine through the use of a focus group. They were concerned about the time it would take to have drop down voting in an online election, as well as the resources necessary to prolong the vote, change online speeches, and maintain member interest.

How this plays out remains to be seen as constitutional changes have yet to be made nor has the Halton Executive debated the recommendations of the committee.

Local Victory for part-time members and members on reduced assignments

Prior to 2009, Halton District School board mandated that all teachers attend staff meetings; this included teachers who were part time or who didn’t work the day or periods prior to the start of the staff meeting. One can imagine how inconvenient this would be for teachers who were part time and may have had second jobs or commitments who had to re-arrange their schedules once a month in order to accommodate for the staff meeting.

October 21st, 2009 a grievance was submitted by the ETFO Halton Local to director at the time Wayne Joudrie. A letter was signed and the resolution was quick to come by December 1st; less than a month and a half later. Another victory for the Halton Local and more particularly for the roughly 6% of part time members or members on a reduced assignment. Now, if a member doesn’t work the period just prior to the scheduled staff meeting, they are not required to attend.

Hamilton-Wentworth DECE Local

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In the Beginning:

The 2010-2011 school year was the first year for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) to implement the governments new Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program (FDELKP). Our board hired approximately 45 Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs), Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs) when working for a school board, to work collaboratively with a teacher in the kindergarten classrooms throughout the boards selected schools, implementing the governments new draft version of the kindergarten curriculum.
HWDSB DECEs voted to join with ETFO in the summer of 2010 and that was the beginning of our relationship with a union for many of our DECEs. The first meeting for the DECEs with the union representatives was to elect our executive. After several training sessions at provincial office our executive then had to establish a collective bargaining committee. This committee needed to build our first collective agreement proposal and begin negotiations with the board. This was all new and exciting for our members. These experiences were all new to the committee members and the abundance of information seemed overwhelming at times but was so worth it in the end. This collective bargaining process carried throughout the year until we reached an agreement with the board in February of 2011.
The following year we developed our locals constitution and roles and responsibilities for executive members. Some of the executive members participated in opportunities to learn more about unionism and how to build a stronger executive to meet the members needs by attending training and workshops at the provincial office. Each consecutive year our local has grown substantially with the new hires the board made for the expansion of the Full Day Kindergarten programs throughout our school board. Currently our local has full-time and occasional DECE members.
In December of 2012, the DECEs of HWDSB participated in their first one day strike in opposition of Bill 115 as they stood alongside their fellow ETFO members at the picket lines. This was a new and scary time for DECEs as this was new for many members and they were unsure of what the outcome would be. However we stood in solidarity with all ETFO members as we believed our voices needed to be heard for fairness and human rights to STOP what the government and boards wanted to accomplish.

Continued Growth:

Currently our executive and our local members have been attending many ETFO provincial workshops such as Visions, Collective Bargaining, Unions School, Women’s Programs and Leadership Workshops to enhance and gain knowledge about our union and how to increase member engagement within our local. This year our local had two executive members attend Union School who then created our locals webpage and developed a social committee to increase member involvement. The first social committee event was a success as it brought out members that hadn’t been involved with their union socially or politically. In the future we hope to see more member involvement within our local and provincially as our local will continue to initiate and invest in member engagement opportunities.

The first social event was the launch of our locals website and the opportunity for members to network in a kindergarten environment. Members were able to view the two kindergarten rooms and network together in an inviting atmosphere.
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Building from the Ground Up-
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Designated Early Childhood Educators
First Collective Agreement


Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s Designated Early Childhood Educators joined ETFO in 2010/2011 school year. As with all the new DECE locals who joined ETFO we did not have a collective agreement of any kind and had to build it from the ground up.
The process began April 19th, 2011 and lasted 7 months until our first Collective Agreement was ratified on November 22, 2011. Within these dates our team consisting of 5 CB members from our local, 2 representatives from ETFO Provincial and the School Board met and negotiated the terms of our agreement. Our team utilized the ETFO module agreement, our HWDSB Teachers’ local agreement, our EA agreement, and the ESP agreements in Rainy River and Renfrew County. There were no other DECE local Collective Agreements to use as a guide at this time.
Our members were sent surveys to determine what they felt was most important to them and what needed to be included in our Collective Agreement and had to approve our preliminary submission of our Collective Agreement before it was sent to the board. It was evident that we could not walk away from the table without: pension, benefits with an affordable co-share and an increased work day.
When our members were hired by the board they were told they would have these things. As it turns out, the reality was, no pension, a 50/50 co-share and vacation pay was on each pay as opposed to the 3 weeks’ vacation we were promised leaving our members feeling lied to and unfairly treated. Through negotiations we were offered an increase from 6 to 6 hours 45 minutes work day but with reductions on other gains that were trying to be made such as benefits. The board also wanted bereavement to come out of our sick leave days. Our local president stood her ground on these issues even when most said walking away from the entire proposed agreement was the wrong thing to do with all the other gains we had made ( 4% vacation pay in first year of employment goes up to 6% year after. 80/20 benefit co-share and the offer of 45 minute longer work day). Our team filed for conciliation because no agreements were being agreed upon with the terms and conditions our members deserve.
On what ended up being the second last day of bargaining the board came to our team with a final proposal. Our members gained: pension, benefits, bereavement, a 7 hour work day, a great sunset clause and vacation pay increase.
Our first day of collective bargaining was nerve-wracking but our ETFO representative, Sharon O’Halloran was confident we would get benefits among other things even though she recognized that there were ALREADY strips when the board presented their first offer without there even being anything to strip from. Also, it was felt by the board that our occasional DECE’s should not be covered under our collective agreement and other detrimental notions that tried to dictate and hold power over our rights.
Our tentative collective agreement was passed by our membership (which was only 60-70 members strong at the time) with an overwhelming response. Our major gains were what we were already promised when we were hired to begin with which made the process quite frustrating but very worth the fight and many members were just happy to see we finally had a collective agreement.
This was a huge accomplishment and gain for our local, who started out with less than nothing.


Hamilton-Wentworth Occasional Teacher Local

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Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local

Hamilton-Wentworth Elementary Teachers' Local

2000 Strike and Lockout

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October 30, 2000- After Local bargaining broke down and relationships were strained between HWETL and HWDSB, 2300 teachers had no choice but to go on a one day strike to ensure that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board understood that they would not sell out any of their members in order to have a collective agreement. The plan was to have a one day all-member strike and then have rotating strikes so as to not cause significant disruption to student learning. However, the following day, the HWDSB locked out all teachers.

A little background: the largest issues dividing the two parties were: better working conditions for teachers, a salary increase that had not occurred in the 9 years previously and the largest bone of contention was that the board was proposing that the Local agree to cutting 62 teachers to offset the costs of a wage increase for the other members. The Board forced members to vote on this proposal. A resounding 83% of the membership showed up to hear about the Board's offer and rejected it by a resounding 96.5%

wiki pic.jpgHamilton Wentworth Elementary Teacher’s - Local Success

As demographics change in neighbourhoods, so too does the enrollment at schools. With increased student population a school becomes over-populated. In the past schools were nestled within neighbourhoods. As populations decrease in these communities, there is a subsequent decrease in enrollment at the school.
According to the Long Term Facilities Management Plan in Hamilton Wentworth, the optimal utilization rates of school facilities is in the range of 90- 110%. Over time if a school is deemed underutilized and there is declining enrollment, the school board will usually undertake a pupil accommodation review process. Through this process, the school board may change school boundaries, and ultimately, opt for school amalgamations and/or closures. Small community schools are no longer the norm. According the Guiding Principles of the HWDSB Long Term Facilities Management Plan schools at an optimal school capacity of 500 to 600 students is preferred.
Regardless of the situation you are faced with, boundary review, amalgamating smaller schools together, a new school opening, or a school closing, this is a very stressful time for teachers. But it doesn’t have to be. With staffing protocols that consider the needs of teachers at both the closing school and the opening school, it can be a smooth transition.
In the past, staffing Protocols at Hamilton Wentworth were less than favourable. Originally, the Board had no formal protocols for closing/opening schools. All teaching positions at the “new” school were posted. Teachers were greatly affected by school closures, and by no fault of their own, had to find a new job through the posting process or through placement.

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Colleagues at Ryckman’s Corners Elementary School shared their experience about the school’s

closing in 2003. In the late 1990’s Ryckman’s Corners School had less than 200 students and was scheduled to close. Students would be moving in part to the new Ray Lewis, or existing schools R.A. Riddell or James MacDonald Elementary schools. The member describes

three-day closing protocol. Two days prior to the closing of the school, staff was expected to clear out all classrooms. This included not only their personal effects, but also the board property, whereby some items went directly to the dumpster provided. Staff was given one day at their new school.

The affected teachers had few options. The priority for most teachers was to teach their current grade and follow the students that they had developed a rapport with. If those students went to Ray Lewis, the only option teachers had was to go through the interview process. If there were positions not yet filled from the interview process, then they were offered, by seniority to the teachers of Ryckman’s Corners. Although, there were not many vacancies available, let alone vacancies that were of interest to the members affected. The member had the option not to interview at Ray Lewis. If they chose this option, then they were placed at James MacDonald.

Teachers were “permitted to apply” to jobs posted in Round One Posting Process. After Round one, teachers without a placement were offered positions that were still available before going to Round Two. Teachers completed a Staff Profile, which listed their preferred 3 teaching positions. Teachers engaged in this process were offered jobs on their staff profile, if available. This situation was not ideal as teachers didn’t know what school they would end up at. It was an extremely stressful situation for most of the teachers at the closing Ryckman’s Corners, a situation for which was no fault of their own!

As time went on, and prior to the September 2008 Collective Agreement, the Local was making inroads with respect to convincing the Board to discuss and develop staffing protocols in closing and opening situations. The early Staffing Protocols were not ideal but they represented steps in the right direction. Initially, there were process issues with the Board as their record keeping of who was entitled to which assignment at the new school when it opened, was seriously lacking. Sometimes, Principals failed to inform Teachers who were posting in for an assignment at the school that would eventually be closing, that they would not be part of the Staffing Protocol due to the timing of their hire at the school.

With each protocol, HWETL kept records of the process used (from as early as spring 2006), and tried to improve the process each time by advancing Members’ rights. Here are some of the “highlights” of these past New and Consolidating Schools Elementary Teacher Staffing Protocols.

In the spring of 2006 – HWSDB had a four-step protocol that spanned 4 years, a new school was set to be built, the other schools involved were kept open as holding schools and then eventually closed. One of the other schools was rebuilt. In it, teachers at Sanford School, which was considered a temporary holding location while other schools were built, who wished to be considered for remaining vacancies at one of the new schools being built, were required to submit a Placement Preference Form. Teachers were placed based on seniority and qualifications. The other alternative they had was to take a voluntary transfer.

In January 2007, teachers at affected school closings were offered an assignment. They had the option of accepting or availing themselves of the posting/placement process. If members accepted a position through the Protocol, they were not permitted to enter the posting process. They were considered to be staffed for the purpose of the upcoming school year.

In a document published by People for Education titled ONTARIO SCHOOL CLOSING AND OPENING LIST, April 2005, identified that from June 1999 – April 2005, 22 schools closed, 3 schools opened, 2 schools slated to close 2006, and 4 schools under review. With so many schools closing in such a short time, many teachers were affected by the precarious staffing protocols currently held by the board.

A big win for HWETL came when we negotiated staffing protocols as part of the September 1, 2008 – August 31, 2012 Collective Agreement. This “win” saw the insertion of a whole new section entitled Article 7 – School Openings and Closures.

It states:

In the event of school opening and/or closure, the Board will consult with the Local in the development of staffing procedures, subject to Article 26, for the Teachers affected by the opening and/or closure, in accordance with the following:a) In the event that the Board opens a newly constructed school and one hundred percent (100%) of the student population in the closing school moves to the newly constructed school, the teaching staff at the closing school will be assigned to the newly constructed school.b) Teachers affected by the opening and/or closure of a school shall be given first consideration in the staffing process.
26.01 “Surplus Teacher” shall be defined as a Teacher who is surplus to the staffing requirements of their present school and is available for transfer in accordance with Article 5 and/or redundant to the staffing needs of the elementary panel.
26.02 Subject to 26.04 and 26.05 below, the least senior Teacher in the school shall be declared surplus to the school. A Teacher may be retained out of order of seniority if there is no other Teacher with greater seniority qualified for the position and the school program necessitates the retention of the Teacher.
26.03 Unless by mutual consent, no Teacher shall be declared surplus to a school who:
(i) is within three (3) years of retirement; or
(ii) is under review.
(a) A Teacher may volunteer to be declared surplus by indicating such, in writing to the Principal:(i) No later than five (5) teaching days following the presentation of the approved school organization for September by their Principal;(ii) No later than two (2) teaching days following the presentation of the revised school organization in September.(b) A Teacher who volunteers to be declared surplus may participate in the posting process.
As recent as December 4th, 2015, the Collective Agreement was further improved by the HWETL Memorandum of Settlement Local Terms, to include:
7.01 c) No Teacher shall be required to use lunch breaks or recess breaks, nutrition breaks, preparation time or personal time to carry out any activity related to a school renovation, opening or closure

This is a major win for our local! Some recent protocols have been quite complex and time consuming to create and implement but have definitely come a long way from where it all started. Our Members’ rights have improved and increased and that is a wonderful gain for the Local.
For example, affected Teachers who have been offered a position at a new school or have elected an assignment through a protocol are no longer prohibited from participating in all of the staffing processes during Spring Staffing. Teachers in a school where 100% of the student population is moving to a newly built school are staffed as per regular staffing rules. Teachers at a closing school where the 100% rule is not applicable, or no new school is being built, have been able to, in order of seniority, pick assignments from remaining vacancies at the new school or from remaining vacancies at the existing receiving schools. HWETL Released Officers are present at the affected schools during the implementation of the protocols and sit with each Member as they make their choice within the applicable protocol. The Collective Agreement language in 7 (b) has been purposely left very open-ended to allow for the development of a protocol between the Board and the Local that will be able to take into consider any unique circumstances which may be part of a particular school opening and/or closure. And most importantly, teachers have more rights which are now enshrined in our Collective Agreement

At HWETL, one of our mandates from our Members is to continue to advance teacher rights in the staffing process. So, that regardless of the situation with respect to the Pupil Accommodation Review Process (that is, boundary reviews; consolidating schools; closing older, under-utilized schools; or a new school opening), our members’ rights matter and will be discussed, planned for and protected.

Hastings & Prince Edward Occasional Teacher Local

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Hastings & Prince Edward Teacher Local

ETFO Hastings and Prince Edward

There have been many challenges and struggles for Hastings - Prince Edward over the years, from surviving the Harris years to taking job action in 2002 because of working conditions related to student assessment and workload (DRA, CASI) and taking a pause on extra-curricular activities because of Bill 115. Through all these things we have grown stronger.

Some of our greatest accomplishments locally have been around issues that have meant a great deal to members. One we are most proud of is the enhanced Pregnancy/Parental Leave that we have had since 2004. Our collective agreement provided members with 6 weeks of salary topped up to 100% (plus 2 week waiting period) and an additional 9 weeks of salary top up to 60% of the members salary, meaning that members have had an entitlement to 17 weeks of enhanced salary benefit. At the time it was one of the best Pregnancy/Parental Leave plans in the province. This excellent gain for members also had its challenges. In the beginning, the board interpreted the article in the agreement in a way that they felt that if the member’s leave occurred during a school holiday (e.g. March break) then the board would not have to pay the top up for those days. This went through a very long grievance process that ETFO actually won and members received their salary. The irony was that the members were back to work by then, because their maternity leave was over.

Another recent accomplishment by our Local, through the Political Action Committee is the development of an awareness website and campaign called EQANO.
EQANO aims to inform the public about the perils of standardized testing through current research and media sources. Our local has also developed a well received logo to make the public ask questions, it looks like this: eqano.png

You can visit the EQANO website at EQANO

Another ongoing issue is staff meetings. Our collective bargaining team has worked for years to get definitive language in our collective agreement about the nature of and length of staff meetings. After years of work we finally did. We have clear language about length, no longer than 75 minutes and must adjourn by 5:00 pm. As well, there is very clear language about the nature of these meetings. The agreement states that it is to be a mix of professional development, school issues and teacher initiated items. Even though this language has been in place for a quite a few years, stewards frequently need to remind principals of the rules set out in the collective agreement.

Recently, our president and two vice presidents have worked diligently to update our staffing process. It has meant hours of meetings and research to convince the board that our old system was inefficient and really not equitable to teachers. This year contract teachers can apply for positions that become available without having to go through an interview process for a lateral move. It hopefully will be a much more transparent and efficient process for all parties.

Probably the thing that members of Hastings Prince Edward Local are most proud of is our beautiful office, Federation House. Federation House is a beautiful Victorian house in Belleville that we jointly own with OSSTF. The ETFOHP Occasional Teachers also have their office here. Recently, we have done some updating in the ETFO offices. The space is warm and cheerful. It is a place where members feel comfortable and at home.

Federation House really is OUR house.



Federation House
114 Victoria Avenue
Belleville, ON

James Bay Teacher Local

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Kawartha Pine Ridge Occasional Teacher Local

Local Struggles and Successes KPRDSB Occasional Teacher Local
The issue:

OTs have been unable to cancel assignments since September when our board changed our callout sytem from Smartfind to Apply to Education. Our only option was to send an email to the dispatch operator and cc the principal and vice principal of the school. If an OT knew in the evening (ie. 7pm) that they would be unable to arrive at school in the morning, the email would not be received by dispatch operator until she arrived in the morning at 7:30 am and manually cancelled the assignment. The dispatch operator was only available for cancellations between 7:30 am to 11:30 am. Not only did this result in a lot of emails sent to admin, this caused a lot of stress to OTs about not being able to go to work due to extreme weather, illness, accident, etc. Also, some cancelations were not manually entered until 30 or even 5 minutes before start time causing difficulties for the school and for an available OT who would be able to go to the school on time if the assignment were on the job board. With Smartfind, we could cancel an assignment and it would immediately return to the system and it could be picked up by another OT right away. ATE did not have this option. OTs were worried about being blamed for not arriving at a school when they had cancelled. Also, sometimes the manual cancellation of the dispatch operator would take some time to be done while time is passing where another OT can accept the position.

What the local did to pursue resolution of the issue:

Marsha was effective in resolving the issue. She explained how the admin were receiving multiple emails in the morning. For a large school this can result in a lot of emails. The jobs were not being cancelled until 7:30 am because the dispatch operator was only available between 7:30 to 11:30 am to manually cancel assignments. ATE took the initiative to add the cancelation for our board which did not exist before we requested it. I am impressed with their OT friendly customer service. Thanks Marsha!

The resolution:

We have been using ATE for five months now. Now that the cancelation issue has been rectified, the new system is working wonderfully. I prefer ATE to Smartfind. It seems more OT friendly and not as stressful.

The impact the issue and resolution had on the membership:
KPR OT members were feeling anxious and worried about the impact their absence would have on a school if they were unable to arrive at a school for an assignment. This added stress on top of members already having problems which impeded the OT from getting to the assignment. KPR OTs were worried they would be responsible in cases where they had cancelled but another OT was not assigned in time to cover at the school. There was also some confusion as to how to cancel, why a position was not canceled, what hours were for dispatch operator, why a position had not ben cancelled when an email had been sent previously giving plenty of notice to notify another OT. But until Jan 30th, all we could do was email the dispatch operator, principal and secretary and then hope for the best because we had already done all that we could do. I think the ability to cancel our own assignments made life a lot easier for OTs. Sometimes mitigating circumstances stop us from being able to work even when we said we could. I think allowing OTs to cancel if we need to gives us a little more power in a job where we don’t have a lot. Allowing us to cancel our assignment when required also treats us like human beings with lives outside of our commitments as OTs to cover a classroom. The new system allows another available OT to be called much more quickly to replace us if required so we don’t have to drag ourselves in to a classroom when there is somewhere else that we should be.

Communication to OTs:

On January 30th we received an email from Penny Barrett explaining that we could now cancel our assignments on ATE:

We have been working with our vendor Apply to Education ( ATE) EasyConnect to upgrade our system to allow occasional employees to cancel a job(s) themselves in ATE-EASYCONNECT
We are very pleased to tell you that this option is now available to you.
Please see the attached manual for assistance.
Important Notes:

• Please cancel the job as soon as you know you will not be available, to allow the school sufficient time to get a replacement.
• You will be required to put a reason for the cancellation in a comment section when cancelling. These cancellations will be monitored.
• If you have a multiple day job in the easy connect system you can cancel if you are cancelling the whole time period of the job. If you only want to cancel one day, you cannot do this. In this case please email the absence dispatch operator for assistance. You must provide a suitable reason for this cancellation.
The half way point in the school year is fast approaching, we have had many inquiries regarding changing locations in your ATE-EASYCONNECT profile.
There is a small window of time to make these changes: You will be able to change/update locations that you would like to work at, in your profile from January 31, 2017 to February 12th, 2017.
Note: If you were hired for a specific location, you must leave these locations in your profile. Also the number of locations in your collective agreement still apply. Please read your collective agreement carefully.
Please see the attached manual for assistance.
If you have any q
questions please email the absencedispatchoperator@kprdsb.ca

Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local

PrepTime Wikipedia picture.jpg
200 Minutes of Additional Preparation Time
Prior to the first Provincial Discussion Table in 2008, Kawartha Pine Ridge teachers had a PA Day that was dedicated to interviews. With the loss of that PA Day and the advent of electronic reporting, an additional 200 minutes of preparation time was given for teachers to do their reports online. At that time, we did not have board provided laptops, and many did not have reliable home internet access, so this necessitated a physical presence in the school and access to the board computers on the board server.
When the first Provincial Discussion Table in place in 2008 brought into place 2 report card writing days and an increase in weekly preparation time, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board tried to strike out the clause from our collective agreement. This was one of the last hold outs by the Board in negotiations. ETFO’s position was that EVERY school board was getting the increased preparation time added to their agreements, and that KPR teachers would not lose a superior entitlement. The local bargaining team would not agree to a strip to our collective agreement, and to date the following is still part of our CA.

Wikipedia appointment picture.jpgArticle 13.08 b) Additional preparation time of 200 minutes shall be allocated to each full-time classroom Teacher during the school year and shall be scheduled by each Principal during the school year in consultation with school staff.

The impact that this has on our membership has been profound. When scheduled around other preparation time, it can sometimes amount to almost an entire day to be spent at your discretion. When those deadlines are looming, knowing that you can take 100 minutes or 200 minutes is very stress-relieving.

Three Personal Leave Days

Prior to the 2008 Provincial Discussion Table agreement, The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board consistently refused to allow the sick leave language to be changed so that teachers could attend to professional appointments during the work day. They did not want to allow anything other than personal illness to be charged to sick leave. As a compromise, the Board chose to allow for 3 personal leave days per year for this purpose. They believed that they could minimize their usage by making people reveal many personal details in order to get them approved. The Board agreed to the terms for use: bereavement (other than what is covered in Article 16), religious holidays (other than those in Article 17.04), immediate family weddings, moving, legal matters (personal business with a lawyer, other than for a business enterprise), personal financial matters, medical appointments for employee or dependent family, or graduations. As long as the reason is one that is listed and cannot be scheduled outside school hours, Principals were to give approval. Although the Board agreed to the reasons listed above, they held that the member would have to identify which of the reasons they were basing their request upon, and then provide written details to their Principal who would then consult with Human Resources before approval was given. This put the member at a disadvantage, as many didn’t want to willingly reveal that kind of personal information once, let alone 3 times in a year. The Board felt that this was reasonable, and tried to strongarm members for the justification of their use. KPR ETFO local argued that asking for personal, private, medical or other information was a violation of several other clauses in our agreement, as well as a right to privacy legislation. The local grieved this, it went to arbitration, and the ETFO local won. From this point on, we have only been required to acknowledge that our absence request meets one of the reasons identified in the clausal language. In EVERY round of bargaining with the Board, their position has been to eliminate these days, reduce the number of days, or to make them chargeable to sick leave. Our local has stood strong and held onto that language.

Article 18.03 Personal Leave – Personal Leave without loss of pay and not chargeable to sick leave may be granted to a maximum of three (3) working days per school year subject to the approval of the Principal or immediate supervisor. The Principal or immediate supervisor shall be notified of the request for leave as far in advance as is reasonably possible. Such leave shall not be unreasonably denied.

Our bereavement clause and religious holidays are separate from these personal days. Members can now attend to matters at a convenient time for themselves. The local has continued to advocate for even stronger language in this area in each round of bargaining.

In 1999, the Kawartha Pine Ridge Teachers Local was formed from the amalgamation of the Northumberland and Clarington and the Peterborough County Teacher Locals. Today, the local comprises the City of Kawartha Lakes, surrounding Peterborough County, Northumberland County and the Municipality of Clarington, which is the eastern part of Durham Region. The local represents approximately 2000 teachers and occasional teachers.
Google Photo of our Local Offices, shared with OSSTF local 14

One important program that was extended to the new amalgamated local was the Benevolent Fund. This voluntary fund allows members in September of each year to add their name to a collective that is only activated if a teacher also belonging to the fund passes away during the year. If this occurs the local immediately releases funds to the family of the lost teacher equivalent to $30 dollars per member in the fund. This Fund has been written into our local constitution and bylaws. Below is the article from our Constituition and Bylaws. It is unfortunate that we have had several occassions where this fund has been activated; however it has served to raise awareness of member safety in the winter months.

  1. The members of the ETFO Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board Teachers’ Local who have signed this agreement wish to donate in cash the sum of thirty dollars ($30.00), or some lesser sum to be determined by the Local Executive, immediately as a gift to the beneficiary of any member who dies in service and who has signed the current year’s Benevolent Fund Agreement Form.
  2. Payments shall be made to an adult named as the Beneficiary. This shall normally be the member’s spouse/partner, parent or adult child. The member may name a minor or an estate as beneficiary to be paid in trust. Where payment is made in trust, KPR ETFO Teachers’ Local shall not be liable for any taxes or impacts upon life insurance payments.
  3. The said donation is to be administered by the Local President or Designate.
  4. If the occasion arises during the summer holidays, the President and/or 1st Vice-President and/or Treasurer is empowered to make a personal short term loan of an amount up to thirty dollars ($30.00) times the number enrolled in the fund. The difference between the amount of the loan plus interest and the sum collected from those enrolled will be paid from the Local treasury.
  5. Members who have retired or resigned from the teaching profession are not entitled to be members of the Benevolent Fund as of the date of their retirement or resignation.
  6. Members who are on an approved Leave of Absence, except for those on Long Term Disability, are entitled to be members of the Benevolent Fund.
  7. The onus is on all participating members to sign the form provided by the Benevolent Fund by September 30. For clarity - Enrolment in the plan after September 30 will be limited to those hired after that date.
  8. The Benevolent Fund Agreement will run from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the following year.
  9. Members of the fund whose payments have not been received within twenty-five (25) school days of the notification of the activation of the fund shall be deemed to have withdrawn from the fund and shall not be reinstated until their payment has been received.

For at least the past 20 years the KPRETFO Local has enjoyed the benefits of the Education Improvement Plan. Under this plan $120,000 dollars is allocated each year for Personal Professional Development for teachers to use. Teachers can apply for funds up to $400 for the cost of conference fees and accomodation once per school year. This fund also will cover the cost for up to 3 supply days as well. The fund is usually fully subscribed to and the funds are usually depleted by March or April each year. Below is the section from our collective agreement:

24.01 There shall be an Education Improvement Plan with funds allocated for leaves of absence with pay for purposes of training courses, lectures, or conferences. Teachers are encouraged to consider School Improvement Plans and/or Teacher Annual Learning Plans when applying for these funds. The allotment of such monies to the respective applicants shall be determined by a System Selection Committee composed of four (4) representatives of the Union and two (2) representatives of Administration.
24.02 Should any surplus monies remain in the fund following August 31, such monies shall be transferred to the following September 1.
24.03 The amount allocated to this fund will be $120,000 annually.

Raising awareness of violent incidents and support teachers
In the past two years the KPRETFO Local has been involved in raising awareness and better understanding the working conditions of our members through a committee looking at the violent incidents that affect our workplaces. This committee has met with the school board, local teachers, community agencies dealing with mental health issues and most recently with the media to expand awareness of our concerns. In April of this year, CHEX Television conducted interviews with teachers, KPRETFO President Darline Pomeroy, KPRETFO OT President Marsha Jones, ETFO President Sam Hammond, CUPE representative Don Poster, and the director of the KPRDSB, Rusty Hicks. Here are the interviews:

KPR ETFO Emergency Fund for Members

Kawartha Pine Ridge’s ETFO local has established an emergency fund for members who find themselves in dire financial circumstances and who appeal to the local executive for assistance on a case-by-case basis.

The money from this fund is generated from two sources: interest on investments that the local has made on its money in reserve and through an agreement with Johnson’s Insurance. Johnson’s Insurance is a Newfoundland-based company that has a long history with the Newfoundland Teachers’ Association. In return for an agreement that the local promote Johnson’s insurance products to it’s members, the company makes a percentage donation back to the local to help maintain our Emergency Fund.

Because of the sensitive nature of the situations that warrant an application to the local for help, claims are kept confidential even from executive members. Appeals go directly to the local President and then are considered at executive meetings, or, in urgent situations, on an ad hoc basis via email from the President to Executive members seeking their approval.


Kawartha Pine Ridge Votes

The struggle to determine who can and cannot vote goes back through our history to the ancient world. In the Kawartha Pine Ridge ETFO local, members have engaged in the electoral process using paper ballots and an electronic voting procedure. At the request of our local president, Darline Pomeroy, a task force was struck in the fall of 2014 to determine the pros and the cons of various methods of electing members to leadership positions. As a task force, we met on various occasions at our local ETFO office to review models for electing members to table officer positions and to regional representative positions on the executive. We also discussed the need to elect delegates to the annual meeting. It was clear from the beginning that our goal was to present various electoral models which would be voted on by the executive. Our goal was not to favour or recommend any specific model.

At the request of our local president, an online survey was posted on our local website. This gave our membership an opportunity to voice their preference for a specific electoral model.

Each of the six models that were presented to the executive contained a detailed description of pros, cons, costs, required tasks, and ideas to consider. The following were the electoral models that we considered:
  1. current model: paper ballot at AGM
  2. third-party online voting
  3. in-school paper vote
  4. regional one-day voting centres
  5. regional three-day voting centres
  6. hybrid model which combined elements from various options

The task force also discussed the importance of drop down elections, campaign materials, social media, our local website and the establishment of a committee to oversee election procedures. At the March KPR ETFO executive meeting, the task force presented its findings. The executive was appreciative of the work that had been completed by the task force. It is now the responsibility of the KPR ETFO Executive to decide on how best to proceed.
It is the hope of the task force that the membership of Kawartha Pine Ridge will increase their participation in the union movement. Having an engaged and well educated membership strengthens the solidarity of the union and helps us preserve our hard fought for rights.

Keewatin-Patricia Occasional Teacher Local

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Keewatin-Patricia Teacher Local



In the early years of the Ontario school boards amalgamation some items were overlooked in the combining of Collective Agreements (CA). One such item was having a Lunch Hour Supervision (LHS) clause.

When the boards were required to amalgamate, in Northwestern Ontario, Dryden, Red Lake and Kenora School Boards were combined. Not all of these three boards had a LHS clause and it was not included in the one CA that was created.

The board was warned that this could cause a huge problem with the 40 minute uninterrupted lunch guaranteed in teachers’ CA, when students had a 60 minute lunch.

Jeff Holmes was our local president at the time. He informed the board that teachers could do duty at the beginning or the end of the lunch hour but not the 20 minute section in between as that would contravene the CA regarding our uninterrupted lunch.

The director at the time wanted the local to allow teachers to volunteer for duty as it would make life easier for the administration; and some teachers were willing to and preferred to do this.

Jeff and the Chief Negotiator at the time, Anne Saltel, took a hardline and said NO! Administration in the schools would have to cover that duty. Here was the trouble that the union had predicted would happen by not including the clause.

Some teachers were angry about this. However, they were encouraged to fold steadfast as it was the Board who chose not to provide supervisors and it was not the responsibility of the teachers to make up for that shortfall. The Local believed that come the next round of negotiations the Board would see the error of their ways and include it.

At the next round of negotiations, LHS was on the table and was given to all schools.

A victory for our Local executive and members!

In the last several years, Keewatin Patricia District School Board has experienced a decline in enrollment for several different reasons. One of the reasons was that we were “competing” with the Catholic School Board in our area. We are a very large geographic school Board and have a catholic school in most attendance areas. The Board tried to engage parents and attract them to our board by offering unique experiences and classes that the other school boards may not be. For example, we started a hockey academy in two of our attendance areas which turned out to be a hit and as a result we will be expanding the hockey academy into other attendance areas as well.
During negotiations, the catholic board came up alot while we were discussing strategies and ways to keep certain language in our collective agreement. We decided that we would ask for a lieu day in exchange for doing extra-curricular activities and see what the Board thought. To be frank, we were not expecting much, but we wanted to make the point that if we want to stand out and offer more to our students that perhaps there should be some incentive. When our negotiator brought this forward she suggested that we may find a broader range of activities being offered rather than just the typical sports teams if we showed appreciation for a teacher's time. We were surprised when the Board came back to us wanting only minor changes to the wording. Effective January 2016, teachers can keep track of their hours and earn either a half or full lieu day, depending on the amount of hours they put in. We are very proud and happy to have this language in our agreement, especially the acknowledgement that extra curriculars are 100% voluntary.

35.01 a) It is understood that all extra-curricular activities are voluntary.

b) Effective January 1, 2016, where a teacher participates in extra-curricular
activities outside of the instructional day, s/he shall earn lieu time in
accordance with the following parameters:

Minimum 25 hours = 0.5 of a lieu day
Minimum 50 hours = 1.0 lieu day

c) Granting and scheduling of the lieu day is conditional upon submission of documentation of hours and in consultation with the Principal.

d) Lieu Days will be limited to one day per teacher per school year, with hours non-transferable to the following school year(s).

e) For clarity, but not as to limit the foregoing, the following are recognized extra-curricular activities: intra-mural sports, school clubs, school competitive teams, Board sanctioned tournaments, choir, drama activities, art clubs, overnight field trips, music, literary clubs, Lego club, math clubs etc.

Keewatin-Patricia Teachers Push for Distraction-Free Report Writing Environment

Prior to the 2014 round of bargaining, our executive surveyed our members to help us determine our local priorities. Overwhelmingly, the number 1 priority for our members was to have the ability to write report cards from home on the two designated report writing days. Members in our local also have an additional half-day of release time that can be used for report writing purposes. For this half-day, members are already allowed to write from home on a mutually agreed upon date. This was really the beginning of the notion of allowing members to work at home for reports. For several years, members were allowed to use this day and were "professional" in doing their duties of reporting. In our mind, there was little difference between that day and the approved two days for writing report cards. The work needed to be done.

Discussion on this topic took place at nearly every bargaining session. At our first session, we introduced the concept that teachers should have the option of working from home. In this day and age, with the technology we have access to, there really is no reason we could see this being an issue. Also, in our schools, caretakers normally work 3-11 shifts but have collective agreement language that allows them to work 7-3 on PA days instead of the evening. This causes issues for teachers trying to write reports as they are trying to do their jobs in our classrooms while we are doing reporting. There are also EA's who do self-directed learning on PA days and this tends to impact teachers on their reporting duties. Many of our schools are also daycare hubs and often students are in the building, the hallways, gym or library which adds even more distraction. Our local president Anne Saltel, emphasized these points. We were immediately shot down by the board, based on their concerns with liability for injury and WSIB coverage, as well as community perception. The board assured us they would check with WSIB.

The next bargaining session, the board responded to us about our concept. They said that they are not concerned with teachers not doing what they are supposed to be doing, but they are still worried about how the community would perceive empty parking lots, and still want to keep teachers in the school. They said the half-day we have could still be up to principals. Michael Thomas, our executive officer at the time, then emphasized that it is about mutual respect for teachers. In our opinion, this is a working condition issue, not an issue about public perception. Also, mental health and flexibility come into play. One teacher at the table added that she does not have an appropriate setup in her school to write her report cards. The board added that they have not yet checked with WSIB, and would still have to do so if we are going to pursue this further.

Months later at another bargaining session, Sharron Raymond, our new executive officer at the time, re-emphasized our position by being respectful of each others’ time and needs. She explained our position on working from home and that it exists elsewhere in the province. The board argued that is was not standard practice across the province, and that this was more about broader public sector accountability from stakeholders’ perspective.

At our final bargaining session, we were not giving up on this concept! Some more discussion occurred. Sharron Raymond noted that ETFO legal assistance said WSIB would not be an issue as most things that occur at home would not be considered a workplace injury. The board was still concerned about public image and wants to know how to address that. We did not disagree in principle about what if the teacher is in a local store, but assured them this would not be problematic.

In the end, we did not get this concept in our collective agreement. HOWEVER, we still consider this a HUGE win because we managed to get the board to agree to it verbally. They decided to let us try it out in June and “see how things go”. Our local president, now Kim Douglas, maintains an open conversation with our HR manager about this concept. Things went very well in June, so it was permitted again in January 2017. As a local, we are very direct with our members with this because if there are any complaints, we could lose it at the drop of a hat. Members are reminded at meetings and via email that working from home at this time is a privilege, not a right, and that members are not to be seen in public, aside from perhaps having lunch at lunch time. Errands are not to be run; members are not to be using it as a long weekend. One of the disadvantages of all of our members living in smaller communities is that parents know where we live and will take notice of vehicles missing in driveways.

One other benefit of this agreement is that it may open doors for other things. For example, if a member has a video conference or a webinar they are to attend for the day, perhaps in the future, they will be able to do that from home as well. Perhaps members will be able to do PLC work off-site and not be distracted by their classes or students walking by.

Another win we recently had in our board (not specifically our local) is related to staff mental health. Our director, after hearing much feedback from staff about their own mental health, decided to pilot a day in lieu for being committed to 30 minutes per day, every work day, of daily physical activity. Any staff member in any department of the board is able to access this. It is based on the honour system, so staff have to monitor their own progress, but are not required to submit logs or documentation. According to our director, over 85% of the board staff have signed a pledge to participate. This innovative concept was also reinforced when in mid-November he added an incentive on top of the lieu day by putting the names of every participant in a draw for a Fitbit Surge. He designated a number of Fitbits for each bargaining unit and drew names to give away 10 to staff who are participating. He sent out a survey in November, and I believe will be sending out other surveys this year to measure the effectiveness. If it is seen as effective, it will likely continue in years to come.

Lakehead Occasional Teacher Local

Lakehead Teacher Local

Lakehead Elementary Teachers of Ontario
Thunder Bay

The Lakehead Elementary Teachers of Ontario, have struggled and persisted with their brothers and sisters in Unions across Ontario long before these 2015 pictures were taken.

We have held our commitment to student learning as a corner stone (building better schools) to every additional task we undertake. We have always been prepared to provide our students with a variety of learning environments including our most prized venue “Kingfisher Lake”. Kingfisher is a one of a kind opportunity to provide students with both residential and field trip learning experience in all seasons.
Our Union has dealt with obligations and commitments from both management and teachers ; parents, trustees and principals; in terms of responsibility, fund raising and supervision of both over night and day trips.

We have consistently put learning at the forefront of our negotiations for building the best learning environments for our students. The Lakehead Elementary School Teachers of Ontario have evidence to prove their commitment to student learning, through pictures, testimonials, and student satisfaction surveys.

This is a student who has just come in from the outdoors to discover more about bone structure at the Kingfisher Lake Outdoor Learning Centre.

Our members also participate in Community events such as Take Back the Night. Our participation in this event is made possible through ETFO Women’s Programs.

We are extremely happy to note the Patti Hajdu, a hometown girl and now Minister of Employment Canada; is also interested in Education that she makes a practice of attending events that involve students, teachers, and parents.

Our Lakehead Elementary Teachers are not only dedicated to teaching democracy, we are providing our students with positive role modelling.

Historical Contributions to LETO include:
  • The First Thunder Bay Pride Breakfast
  • Participation as a Union in Pride Parades as Marshalls and marchers
  • Participation in Workshops Locally Designed to Help Us Understand the Plight of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women
  • 2017 Women in Action propelling 3 new initiatives 1) “Flip It” a social media workshop for mothers and daughters, 2) The Acceptance of the Early Years Teachers Sub-Committee reporting to the Vice- President, and 3) A Promotional Gift to teachers in the form of a T-Shirt with the logo and statement “Live, Love and Learn” (these funds were from Political support)

Lambton Kent Occasional Teacher Local

To Key or Not to Key

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In the ‘Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol’ that was released in 2015, changes to the policy on lockdown procedures (Appendix B) were incorporated. Because ‘the possibility of a major incident of violence is a reality that cannot be overlooked’, protocols for a school wide lockdown were to be implemented province wide. One seemingly innocuous sentence posed more difficulty than might have been imagined. The publication stated that, ‘All staff, including occasional, part-time, or itinerant teachers, must have the ability to lock their classroom doors’. The rationale behind this statement was that ‘if a classroom is secured and those in it remain out of sight, silent, and behind cover, an intruder is more likely to move on’. This is a logical and practical means of operating in the case of a violent situation but the mandate sent school boards scrambling across the province.

Despite having a clause in the Collective Agreement prior to this new protocol, in the Lambton Kent Board it continued to be a battle for occasional teachers to be given keys. It was felt my many board employees that occasional teachers were not trusted to have keys that gave them access to classrooms, nor were they trusted to return said keys at the end of the day. It was not enough to hold the timesheets of occasional teachers ‘hostage’ in exchange for such keys. Board employees were not comfortable giving keys to occasional staff that were thought to be transient employees.

In a Letter of Agreement (#3) added to the Collective Agreement, the Lambton Kent DSB agreed that they would ‘achieve the compliance level regarding Occasional Teacher ability to lock and unlock the classroom door as set out in the Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol (2015) by December 31, 2015.’ It was further acknowledged that ETFO could ‘raise the failure to comply with the Central Labour Relations Committee.’

In an effort to adhere to the Letter of Agreement while addressing their own concerns about the untrustworthiness of occasional teachers, some schools began demanding car keys in exchange for a classroom key. When occasional staff had not driven to work, they were then asked for another item of value to give in exchange. It was a practice that was both demoralizing and problematic for occasional teachers. When one school lost the keys and car fob of an occasional teacher, the board was finally forced to acknowledge the inappropriateness of the practice. They had to pay several hundred dollars to replace the lost items, a cost that would buy numerous replacement classroom keys.

The Lambton Kent Occasional Teacher local pointed out that the cost of classroom keys was a part of ‘the cost of doing business’. They were not overly expensive and it was fairly common practice for permanent teachers to also walk off with extra keys from the office, despite the occasional teachers shouldering the entire blame in most schools. The lack of keys for occasional teachers was put on the agenda of the joint Health and Safety committee by the local president on several occasions, in an attempt to address the very real concerns of the members. Schools were told that a work order for more keys was all that was required to acquire more keys and alleviate the issue. This seemingly simple solution did not, however, solve the problem. It was revealed that it was not the responsibility of the office administrators to monitor and replenish key supplies in the school; it was the duty of the principals.
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Because the problem of getting keys to occasional staff continued to be pushed aside by most administrators and board employees as being of low importance, a grievance was filed in the Fall of 2016 by the new LKEOT president. It had become necessary to formalize the concerns of the occasional teachers and to make the board take notice. After consultation with the Board, the Lambton Kent Occasional Teachers choose to put the grievance in abeyance, meaning that the situation would continue to be monitored closely and that the grievance could be reactivated at any time if the board failed, again, to live up to its responsibilities.

Currently, the LKEOT leaders are looking at introducing a regular ‘key and fob audit’ to the joint Health and Safety Committee. The introduction of a fob to enter and exit buildings had reignited some of the previous issues of occasional teacher members. Because fobs are considerably more expensive than keys, many board employees are hesitating to allow occasional teachers access to them, a troublesome reality in terms of both health and safety and simple respect.
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2006 Lambton Kent Occasional Teachers

In 2006 the Occasional Teachers of Lambton Kent District School Board had a struggle with the board during negotiations regarding first supervision duty. In Lambton the OTs had had language in the collective agreement ensuring that they would not have to do the first duty upon arrival to a new assignment. This language had been in place since the mid-1990s and had worked well. Unfortunately, the board wanted the OTs to assume the responsibility for trading duties and do another supervisory duty in place of the first duty. The Local was very upset and saw this as a significant strip to the collective agreement. The local decided that if the Board tried to strip or change this clause, they were ready to go on strike. This was the last issue on the table. The members of the local were angry.

The Director at the time, had volunteers lined up to go into the classroom in case the OTs "walked".

The local had their members OTs ready to strike if need be.

The ETFO Provincial Office provided additional supports to the local team in an attempt to achieve a settlement. It was not until 5:30 a.m. that the board agreed to have the issue go to the Provincial Stability Commission and the strike was averted.

Eventually, a letter went out to the principals from the manager of Human Resources telling them not to switch duties and that the OTs were not required to do the first duty; a letter went out from ETFO to the members of the teacher local explaining the situation to them and the requirements under the OT collective agreement.

It was an historic moment for the local. The cohesiveness of the members and the great support they received from the ETFO Provincial Office was instrumental in achieving the settlement.

It demonstrated to the local members that they had great strength in numbers! It has left a lasting mark.



It is challenging to live and teach when our profession and professionalism is under attack by the Liberal Government. Whether it’s an offer of a “Cookie-Cutter” deal, or docking our pay for not participating in “extra-curricular activities”, ETFO has strategically planned and escalated our Work-To-Rule campaigns in response to Premier Wynne’s bargaining antics.
ETFO entered Phase 3 of Strike Action. On September 23, 2015, the first Wynne Wednesday was “struck” in response to the lack of negotiating of a central table agreement. On Wednesdays, Teachers and Occasional Teachers did not work outside of the class, so they can focus on teaching and student supervision. ETFO members also participated in information pickets, rallies, letter-writing campaigns to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals.
In a show of solidarity, ETFO members wore ETFO apparel including buttons, hats and clothing. This union attire had proven to be a great conversation starter as ETFO members were out- and- about in their communities. Union solidarity was alive in the schools; uniting our brothers and sisters from CUPE who were fighting the same Liberal Government.
The unique and creative qualities that teachers possess were very visible in the schools and staffrooms on Wynne Wednesdays throughout the province. The ETFO- CB Facebook page allowed Locals to display their solidarity photos wearing union attire; letting our Bargaining Team know that we support them 100%. In addition, staffrooms were filled with creative snacks and motivational goodies. It is well known if you bring food, they will come. Wynne Wednesday provided an opportunity for those teachers who are usually coaching teams, or running clubs, to come to the staffroom and partake in some food and friendly conversations.
Wynne Wednesdays continued until ETFO and the Liberal Government reached a Central Table Agreement and the 78000 members voted in favour of this Agreement Nov. 2015. Although many members are engaged at all times, it is crucial that all ETFO members continue to be engaged and mobilized after this crossroad is over. Whether it is posting memes or photos on Facebook, sending solidarity tweets, or wearing Union apparel, ETFO members will unite and continue to stand strong together, to defend our profession, our collective agreements, public education and the future generations of learners.

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Lambton Kent Teacher Local

Mould In Lambton Kent Schools

In 2005, after a complaint from a staff member about air quality, mould was found in eight portables at Lansdowne Public School. The Lambton Kent District School Board publicly stated that although mould was present the classrooms were safe, then proceeded with clean up of the portables. Teachers had complaints of hives, coughs and other medical ailments for two years after the clean up. Mould issues were also reported at Queen Elizabeth II Public School in Petrolia and Tecumseh Public School in Chatham. As complaints of mould and mould related health issues continued, the board was adamant that teachers were overreacting.


With support from ETFO Provincial, a media campaign (paid media as well as media releases) ensued, complaints were filed with the Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Labour Relations Board, (including a work refusal at Lansdowne headed by resource teacher Laurel Liddicoat-Newton), and grievances were filed. Throughout this, parents and community members were mobilized in support of healthy schools.FullSizeRender-4.jpgFullSizeRender.jpg
In 2007 a settlement was mediated by William Kaplan. The settlement stipulated that a mutually agreed-upon independent consultant – Echo Management Inc., under the direction of a highly renowned environmental specialist Dr. Om Malik – would conduct a thorough assessment of all Lambton Kent elementary schools. It also provided for the remediation of any issues that Dr. Malik found during the course of his assessments. All 55 schools went through an assessment and teachers at each school were given the opportunity to speak with representative of Dr. Malik about their concerns. Mould abatements were performed where necessary.

Our Local was able to impact positively on the health and safety of our members and students in our classrooms. When complaints or concerns are raised about potential for mould, the board now takes it seriously. It also mobilized parents in support of teachers and our fight for healthy and safe schools.

A special thank you to Laurel Liddicoat-Newton, LKETFO President, for sharing her knowledge and files for this entry. (January, 2018)

Ansara, S., & Pynaert, J. (2016, May 25). Mould in Schools: A Continuing Health Concern. http://etfovoice.ca/node/179

Mould Problems Confirmed in Lambton-Kent Say Teachers. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/mould-problems-confirmed-in-lambton-kent-say-teachers-533499971.html

Lambton Kent ETFO – Seniority Based Hiring and Mid Year Hire Challenges
In the fall of 2008 a challenging situation arose whereby the Mid Year Hiring procedure (MYH) was being interpreted differently by the two parties involved. The Board was taking the position that “School Needs” superseded anything else. For instance, qualifications were entirely moot. If an individual would agree to become qualified then that meant they were considered by the Board to be qualified. In a pool of applicants qualified people could be overlooked for someone with no qualifications that the principal deemed as meeting “School Needs”.
This led to extended discussions, grievances, and arbitration dates which continued through the fall of 2010. We challenged the Board on “School Needs” and we challenged the Board that they were using “School Needs” as a way to punish active members in the Union. Later on a very experienced and qualified teacher was overlooked for a new teacher with no directly relevant experience but a willingness to become qualified. Another important point was that other MYHs that year had been filled based on seniority whereas this position clearly had not. In June of 2010 an understanding was reached with the Board where changes to the Collective Agreement language were made.
In the fall of 2010 a new situation arose in which the Board decided that they would give a job to the most senior teacher as outlined in the Collective Agreement, but, stated that they would only leave them in that position until the end of the school year. At the end of the year the successful candidate was to be switched to a new role and a candidate with less experience was to be swapped into the first position. So essentially, the more experienced teacher was to be hired into what amounts to a temporary assignment.
The Union filed an Individual member grievance and a Group grievance. The grievances were denied by the Board. A Step 2 grievance was filed which involves the Trustees and it was denied as well. However, ongoing discussions did occur as a result. Arbitration was set but the discussions bore fruit and we reached an agreement that MYHs would move immediately. As a result of all these challenges our Mid Year Hire Policy now states that vacancies that occur after the school year has begun through until April 15th will commence on the posted date or within seven days of the acceptance of the position. All positions vacated by the successful Members will be filled by an occasional teacher who will then gain permanent status.
This became the first step to establish true Seniority Based Hiring in Lambton Kent, and has been successfully implemented and honoured by all parties to this day.

Limestone Occasional Teacher Local

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Limestone Teacher Local

The focus of my Wiki paper is to highlight how significant small action, within a local, can create amazing and effective change: a change in relationships; a success story of building bridges in a community, and the resultant effects of the importance of relationships and communication. This dynamic began with teachers beginning to reach their breaking point. This breaking point was not in an average, November, report card stress, and demands of the job typical way, but in a way that began to create cracks in our hearts.

In Kingston, Ontario, we are lucky. It is a beautiful place to raise kids and has the ability to receive so many families from Syria. They are able to find housing in a neighbourhood with a K-6 school. The school that now has 34 Syrian children attending. This is an empowering experience for the teachers here and, not without challenges.

Over the past year at the school, the school received many students from Syria, and there was no design in the local education system to receive these families. Traditionally, the board received students who were ESL, but not a significant number of those who are ELL or EDL. The board and union needed to truly collaborate, in order to create a comfort zone from which we could move forward.

After consulting with the board’s lead ELS administrator, I learned that the board drafted a plan which included the key components,

“In conjunction with Immigration Kingston, KEYs and their settlement teams, a transition meeting is set up with the principal of the school, once a family has confirmed residence and have moved in. All key information is shared at this meeting, from the school perspective and an opportunity to learn about the families.
At that meeting, the plan of support for the first day(s) in the school is discussed. If beneficial, a follow up meeting is established for a week or so later to share and clarify any information from both sides.
Each family has a settlement team involved with them to support, and for schools to connect with, for the first 6 months, and further than that as needed.
The itinerant ESL teacher connected to the school is present, will complete an initial assessment in the early days, and based on that, build in direct support if needed into his/her schedule, along with communication with the classroom teacher to work as a team to support the student.
Connections with outside agencies and a protocol to access them has been established. Utilizing this protocol has been effective in individual situations to support students and their families already. Building capacity in our student support counsellors and ACW’s is ongoing. “

This was a success for the board, but after experiencing life with the children, whose stories were varied and diverse, did not address the issues faced by teachers every day in the classroom. Students were refusing to come in, the conflict on yards was creating cultural barriers in the community, and teachers felt ill-informed to move forward for student success and their own success as educators. This is when the local union executive became involved, in co-operation with the administration at the school.

Teachers and Their Stories

The local ETFO president, at the time, Mike Lumb, messaged the Steward, asking for information about what things looked like at the school and how teachers were handling the additional students. Teaches were candid because of the value placed on their experiences by the local leadership. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

“Teachers are going to burn out. They are exhausted, the moral is okay but just barely. The workload is beginning to break people. There are not enough supports in place. NO additional supports have been put in place in terms of most of the day for children. And, our supports already in place for our children is now being stretched, and then this adds to the teacher workload as the EA’s are being pulled and the SST is as well. Mental health issues are significant. People have increased blood pressure, are breaking down, and are not teaching. They are managing behavior. They are not trained in Refugee trauma and are expected to be the front lines….
So, so much Arabic being used in our school. I value and respect multiculturalism and that speaking in their native language helps them to feel safe, I also think it builds a barrier between other students, staff, and our Syrian students. Some of the boys do not respond to me, especially if escalated. Is this a language barrier? A cultural barrier? A gender barrier?
We need for ELLs students to speak their native languages, but also is that creating a gap with so many students not integrating with others?”

Clearly, teachers in the local were struggling, and it was predominantly isolated to this site. The teachers needed more experience and expertise, so that they could meet everyone’s needs.

In order to directly meet ETFO members’ needs, a provincial workshop was going to be brought to Kingston, looking at how to support Newcomers to Canada. This was going to be offered in the evening, with dinner provided. This was an immediate response and a meeting time was established.

Following this, our administration continued to advocate on behalf of the students at the board office. Additionally, the Steward, as a liaison, continued to advocate, and the local leader continued to address the members’ needs at a board level. In December 2016, the 6-page letter was read to the Senior Staff emphasizing the significance of the need at one of their schools.

The school staff, in conjunction with the principal, met to discuss what needs should be addressed, and how. The Steward gathered the voice of the collective members, and advocated at the meeting to continue to build supports for members.
Draft Plan Developed On-site to Support Newcomers and Teachers
Student Arrival for a Transition Meeting with their family
Transition Meeting to take place as per protocol
*new action: administration invites members to attend the meeting if they are to receive a new student
Student and family tour the school
Student arrives at school
*new action: Interpreters are available and part of the team approach to welcoming these families to school. The interpreters were trained by Keys, and they are the link to the smooth transition for the newcomers. Families speak Kurdish or Arabic.
*Initially one interpreter was provided by Keys, and after advocating on behalf of members by the Steward, each student received an interpreter as a shadow. This allowed members to explain school in a supportive way to these families.
Follow Up Transition Meeting
*new action: A meeting with the family following the first few days or weeks, at members’ discretions, will be set up by administration during school time, in order to ensure smooth transitions for students and teachers
Letter advocating for more supports
*new action: the administration drafted a letter to the Senior Staff at the board office, advocating for more supports to be put in place.
More Resources
*new action: the school has received 1.5 additional E.A.’s. Initially, one EA was requested by administration.
*new action: the school received increase supports in the form of an ELS itinerant, and based on the increasing need, the board hired a new ELS itinerant for the 2016-2017 school year.
Other Resources
*new action: develop a working bookshelf to support members in resources. Previously people were trying to develop the curricula at night on google.
*new action: apps were purchased in support of the needs of teachers and their learners.
Speak and Translate

Action alphabet resources to support ELL learners.
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Some examples of the Print Resources Library being built at the school to support teachers.

Community Connections

This link is invaluable. The men and women who work at Keys, and who supporting the new families, have extended their supports to the school site and this partnership is a powerful part of this success. It is also a significant part of the success of the Newcomers. The position of this office is also significant as it is around the corner from the school. The teachers are building a community with community members, and other partnerships.
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Board Support

The board continues to hear the combined power of the message of administration at the school, and the voice of ETFO. A letter drafted post member and administration meetings, created an important part of the support and change. An except is included below:

Dear Senior Staff,
0n behalf of the students and staff…I want to express how proud I am of our staff, our students and our school community for being so welcoming and supportive to the Syrian refugee families who have settled in Kingston and …in the lives of our newest Canadian citizens.
Since October 31st, we have had 21 new students register…. Eighteen of these new registrations are newcomers to Canada from Syria and three students are from out of province schools.
We are formally asking for 1.5 EAs for the remainder of the school year, although two EAs would be ideal, to support the safety of all students, the diverse learning needs and the unexpected enrolment at our site. At this point, we are not sure if this enrolment pattern will continue.
We hope that you are able to consider our request for additional support. Please let us know if there is specific information that you require to assist in your decision. We continue to work hard to make our school a great place to grow and learn for all students. We feel that with an increase in support we can provide the much appreciated and needed education for all of our students and their families.

This successful letter would not have the impact without the support of the local executive, a team-approach and support of the administration, as well as the support from the teachers. The power of advocacy is significant. The evening workshop for teachers turned into a day workshop, presented by ETFO provincial, to members both of ETFO, but also CUPE and administration.

Provincial Support

At the end of the day, the most significant support was felt, when ETFO provincial, with the expertise the members needed to hear said, “Relax, breathe. You are doing a good job. They will be okay.” Teachers cried, laughed, questioned, poked and prodded and in the space of a day, began to be able to relax, and have their burden lifted. They heard stories of empowerment, challenge and how what they are doing is okay. Expertise was offered and presented by provincial ETFO.

We were lucky to have a local executive to advocate for us, and the board and the local split the cost of the professional development, and staff were released, alongside CUPE members, during the day. This, to my knowledge, has not happened before. The collaboration is an amazing success.

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The readily applied strategies and the stories were incredibly empowering by the Provincial ETFO workshop.

Administration at the board level regarding the success of students can be seen in these sentiments, “They feel welcome and safe and have a new life with so many opportunities. Schools and individual teachers have gone above and beyond to welcome the families in and work together to support students. Schools and teachers, with challenges along the way, can be very proud of their teamwork and support to the families. The response back from the families and their support settlement teams is so positive. Students are learning English and are learning what life is like in Canada, specifically Kingston. This is in huge part to the welcoming atmosphere of the school teams.”

This success is because there was work to do, and the Union, both locally and provincially, supported members in a time of new learning and need. There is more work to be done, but members can rest easy, knowing there are so many more supports in place due to their advocacy: and the fact they felt empowered to do so by the local ETFO team, is also a wonderful success.

ETFO Limestone's Loss of the Retirement Benefit

Issue: Loss of Retirement Benefit
The imposition of Bill 122, followed by a more palatable Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), affected teachers’ retirement gratuities across the province. While the MOU ensured teachers wouldn’t completely lose their retirement gratuities, it utterly failed to protect a different kind of retirement pay-out: the retirement benefit. The vast majority of teachers from Limestone Local didn’t have a retirement gratuity; instead, they had a retirement benefit. And through the MOU, they lost control and continuation of that fund. Essentially, this meant that while ETFO members from all the other locals could now look forward to receiving owed retirement gratuity money, approximately 400 ETFO Limestone members came away empty handed.

Since the mid 1980’s, ETFO Limestone had fought long and hard for many years, through many long sessions of local bargaining, to secure this retirement benefit for its members. And the hard work had paid off. There were concessions and sacrifices to be made, but finally in 2004, ETFO Limestone’s CBC was able to negotiate a funded retirement benefit into their collective agreement. It was a victory!

But it was short-lived. Despite the hard fights, the years, the concessions, and the final attainment of a retirement benefit, the MoU put an end to it all. Teachers across the province rightfully earned access to their retirement gratuities, while teachers in Limestone only had a frozen benefit fund, which would be completely depleted after only 70 teachers retired. Those with less than 10 years of service could receive a small “wind-up” payment, while the rest of the teachers—approximately 400—would receive absolutely nothing.
The news was not well-received by local members. Many expressed their devastation, frustration and feelings of betrayal.
How did the local pursue a resolution?
Limestone Local Vice-President, Debi Wells, and President, Mike Lumb, responded the moment they heard. Both were very vocal about how this agreement benefited all other locals, but cost Limestone members. Lumb and Wells spoke to multiple people, including the Premier, Kathleen Wynne, when she was in Kingston to visit a local school. Limestone’s local team then met with their MPP, John Gerretson, who drafted a letter to Education Minister, Liz Sandals, on their behalf.
With assistance from provincial executive and after numerous follow-up conversations, Limestone’s local team affected a victory for its members once again, albeit one that was bitter-sweet.
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(From left to right: ETFO Limestone President, Mike Lumb; ETFO Limestone 1st Vice-president, Debi Wells; Premier Kathleen Wynne; MPP John Garretsen; Education Minister Liz Sandals)
There were two parts to this resolution. The first was that the government pledged to put $143,900 into Limestone teachers’ retirement benefit fund. Although this is not nearly enough to fund the retirement benefits of 400 teachers, it was the first step. The second was the government’s concession to allow Limestone to deposit into the fund—meaning that Limestone Local and the Board can negotiate future deposits within a local collective agreement, thereby topping up the fund as the years go by and helping to ensure that teachers will receive some money upon retirement.

This lukewarm victory was a tremendous relief for Limestone members. Through this struggle, the local was able to claw its way back to where it was before the imposition of Bill 122 and the MOU. Despite the need for ongoing negotiations to ensure money continues to go into their retirement fund, teachers from Limestone were no longer receiving nothing upon retirement, when their counterparts in other locals were allowed access to their gratuities. They now had a resolution that was relatively equitable, and this was well-received among the members. Fairness resonates with everyone.

The Creation of an Equity Chair on the Limestone Teacher Local Executive

The Limestone Teacher Local (Kingston and Area) has two full-time released positions (President and First Vice President), with the remaining Executive positions being non-released but executive and voting positions. Prior to 2014, there was not an Equity Chairperson position on the Executive, although Karen Spanton, shown below, held the Goodwill Chairperson's position.
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During the 2013-2014 school year, the Goodwill Chair of the Limestone Teacher Local, Karen Spanton, participated in Union School 2014. As her practicum, she decided to create a motion for presentation at the Local's Annual Meeting in April of 2014. Having always noticed that there were other locals with Social Justice and Equity Chairs, Karen decided it was time for the Limestone Teacher local to have one, too. While many other locals combine their Social Justice and Equity Chair roles into one, Karen noticed that many social justice issues were already being tackled by the local Professional Learning Chair and Committee and Status of Women Chair and Committee. Therefore, she wrote a motion to create an Equity Chair role on the executive.
Her presentation during the Local's Annual Meeting was met with overwhelming support and approval. Her motion was voted on by the membership and passed. She was then nominated by someone present to become the Limestone Teacher Local's first Equity Chair and she was voted into that new role.

Working Hard
Since becoming the Equity Chair in 2014, Karen Spanton has been busy working to bring more Equity-focused initiatives to the Limestone Teacher Local. She has ensured the Limestone Teacher Local has a large presence at the annual Pride events, developed a speaker series with a focus on leading through social justice, partnered with the Professional Learning Chair to bring Equity-learning to Limestone teachers, and has sat on the Accessibility taskforce in the Kingston area. Members in the Limestone Teacher Local are undoubtably more prepared to teach in an equity-based classroom thanks to the hard work of its Equity Chair.

Limestone Status of Women Committee

The Limestone Status of Women Committee has steadily increasing its involvement in the larger Kingston community. April Elliott has worked tirelessly with her committee in order to raise awareness of women's issues within the local through a variety of events, including the very popular Limestone Local Women's Retreat. They have made their presence known during local Take Back the Night events, White Ribbon Campaigns in schools, movie nights focused on women's issues and also supporting several local women's shelters. In 2014, April and her committee hosted an extremely high-profile and successful event in support of the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston. Through their efforts, they brought in Sally Armstrong, the human rights activist, journalist and award winning Canadian author, as the keynote speaker for a gala benefit held in May. Sally Armstrong is the recipient of seven honorary doctorate degree and is a Member of the Order of Canada. To host an event of this magnitude took months of planning and preparation, and cooperation with multiple organizations across the city. The benefit featured live music by Georgette Fry and the Shout Sister Choir, and took place at Grant Hall at Queen's University. Hundreds of people attended this very prestigious event, including ETFO provincial vice president Susan Swackhammer. The event raised almost $8000 for the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston.


Limestone President Mike Lumb was also extremely supportive of the benefit: “No other woman in Canada brings the international depth and understanding of women’s potential, and the human and economic necessity of freeing women from violence and oppression, than Sally Armstrong. That’s why we chose Sally to headline this benefit, and bring attention to the important work that Sexual Assault Centre Kingston does in our community.” The Sexual Assault Centre Kingston is a non-profit, charitable organization that assists women and girls in recovering from the effects of trauma from sexual violence.

April Elliott has continued to build on her work as Status of Women Chair by implementing the extremely successful Women in Action program in the Limestone Local and fostering increased member engagement and leadership within the local. Through her work at the provincial and local levels, April continues to ensure that the voice of women within the local remains a strong and vibrant one.

Near North Occasional Teacher Local


2006 Near North Occasional Teachers

In May, 2006 members of the Near North Occasional Teacher Local went out on strike over the pay rate for short-term occasional teaching work. In Near North the contract teachers and secondary teachers were paid at the same rate and secondary occasional teachers were paid at a rate derived from the secondary teachers' grid but the elementary occasional teacher rate for daily work work was much lower than that of secondary OTs.

At the end of the strike the OTs were successful and achieved parity with their secondary OT colleagues.

Their president writes 'We would never have made this gain without the strike. This demonstrates how strong, determined union members can achieve real improvements in their working lives through collective action.'

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Near North OTs fighting for wage parity


November 2015

Our recent work to rule was both a success and struggle for everyone across the province. It was a very important step in bargaining and negotiating for a fair contract, however it did affect the Occasional Teachers in our Local. Many Daily Occasional Teachers suffered a loss of work as the only substitute days existing would be for personal or medical reasons. Daily Occasional Teachers who have been teaching for many years were receiving calls for parts of the day and sometimes even just for one hour of the school day. In the Near North OT Local, Daily Occasional Teachers are paid only for the time that they are in the school working. We do not have a Local Agreement with the Near North District School Board that pays Occasional Teachers for a half day worked if their assignment is under three hours. That is something that could potentially be negotiated in the future.

After our provincial agreement had been negotiated, everyone had a sigh of relief and got ready to start accepting more full and half day assignments. Waiting on the provincial agreement was well worth it, as ETFO's bargaining team worked tirelessly to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract. Accordingly, the latter was both a struggle and success because we waited it out, did not settle and made long term gains. Although gains were made, it caused difficulty and struggles for the Daily Occasional Teachers for months with fewer and shorter assignments.

Our Occasional Teacher Local has a strong and experienced executive team which is a strength for us. This has allowed the executive to make long term gains in local bargaining over the years by following through with amendments that will result in gains for the members. Their experiences have allowed them to present changes in ways that will work for both the School Board and Occasional Teacher Local. With this experience and long term partnership, the bargaining team was recently able to come to a fair and amicable Tentative Local Agreement with the school board in a few bargaining sessions. This is a true example of the Near North OT Local's success.

Although it seems that, for now, many of our struggles have been overcome, we have a new struggle that faces us in the upcoming year. Most of our Local Executive will be retiring. We will need new members who are aware of the importance of union activities and how significant it is to maintain our working conditions and collective agreement. Member engagement is paramount in order to sustain our presence and education within the Local.

Lastly, we still struggle to make sure that principals are upholding Regulation 274 in their schools. This is an ongoing struggle where many Daily Occasional Teachers do not feel comfortable 'speaking up' because of vulnerability in the workplace. The fear of reporting these situations often stems from not wanting to be disliked by a principal and therefore experiencing a potential loss of work. Please see the link for more information about Regulation 274.


"5. A board shall not interview or make an offer to any person to fill a long-term assignment or permanent teaching position unless a notice of the position has been posted on the board’s website for at least five weekdays. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 5.

Assignments or appointments to long-term assignments

6. (1) If a board is a party to a written agreement with a bargaining unit, including a collective agreement, that governs the process of offering teaching positions to supernumerary teachers with the board or teachers whose positions with the board have been declared redundant, the board shall not interview or make an offer to any other person to fill a long-term assignment position before completing that process. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (1).

(2) If a long-term assignment position is not filled under the process referred to in subsection (1), the board shall not interview or make an offer to any otherperson to fill the position unless an offer has been made to each teacher interviewed in accordance with subsections (3) and (4) and none of them have accepted it. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (2).

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), the board shall interview the five teachers from the long-term occasional teachers list who,

(a) have the required qualifications for the position;

(b) have the highest ranking under section 2; and

(c) have agreed to be interviewed. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (3).

(4) If fewer than five teachers on the list satisfy the criteria set out in clauses (3) (a) and (c), the board is required under subsection (3) to interview only those teachers. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (4).

(5) If the position is not filled by a teacher interviewed in accordance with subsections (3) and (4), the board shall not interview or make an offer to any other person to fill it before,

(a) advertising the position to teachers on the board’s long-term occasional teachers list; and

(b) interviewing a selection of the teachers from the list who apply for the position and have the required qualifications for the position, and making an offer. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (5).

(6) If the position is not filled by a teacher interviewed in accordance with subsection (5), the board shall not interview or make an offer to any other person to fill it before,

(a) advertising the position to teachers on the board’s roster of occasional teachers; and

(b) interviewing a selection of the teachers from the roster who apply for the position and have the required qualifications for the position, and making an offer. O. Reg. 274/12, s. 6 (6)."

Strong Ties with Sister Local

The Near North Occasional Teacher Local (NNOTL) has worked diligently to establish, grow and maintain our relationship with our sister local, the Near North Teachers (NNTL). The close relationship between the two locals started with our strike in 2006 when NNTL members stood up to the Board and refused to do the work of Occasional Teachers (OTs). This forced the Board to close schools on our picket days. NNTL President at the time was Nancy Kilgore and the NNOTL President was Jan Heinonen.

Our bond has grown over the years as we have continued to work in unison. For example, we rallied together during our strike in 2014, and we have stood in solidarity to support our brothers and sisters that belong to other unions. In addition, we often partner up to host Professional Development opportunities for both OT’s and Teachers. As we look into the future, our locals have plans to work together to build community engagement.

The relationship we have with the NNTL impacts our members in various ways. Many of our members aspire to permanent classroom positions and we want a seamless transition from one Local to another. Also, some of our members are already members of both Locals as they have less than 1.0 FTE contract positions and want to earn additional wages with daily occasional teaching work. Working with NNTL also allows for joint workshops that might not otherwise be possible on their own due to low enrollment.

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OSSTF rally at Queen's Park May 14, 2015.
From left to right: President of NNTL Dave Bartlett, Executive Member of NNTL Charlotte Hurd and President NNOTL Jan Heinonen.

Rally for Fairness in Bonfield in support of their municipal workers who were out on a lengthy strike in 2014.
Left to Right: President of NNOTL Jan Heinonen and President of NNTL Dave Bartlett.

Near North Teacher Local

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Niagara Occasional Teacher Local

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Niagara Occasional Teachers push for Workplace Violence Training

In September 2009 the Niagara OT Local filed a grievance regarding the lack of any training for OT staff of the District school board for its workplace violence policy as mandated under Bill 168 and OH&SA 25(2)(h).

There was only a one-page double-sided information sheet created and distributed to Principals to be placed on bulletin boards for OT’s with no other communication or training provided.

The Local wanted at least a half-day paid training session to be provided for its members but it was met with much resistance from the Board. The matter was appealed to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in November 2009. A final settlement was reached in June 2010 that the DSBN shall provide OT staff with three 1-hour information and instruction sessions to augment its online violence and harassment program. These sessions took place September 8, 15 and 23, 2010 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and so they were unpaid and not well attended.

However, the OT Local was able to take the Board to task on an important cause, which is to recognize and include Occasional Teachers as part of government mandated policy and training for the health and safety of its employees. This employer neglected their legal duty to train ALL employees in work specific and relevant training that is crucial to their security and well-being.

Niagara Teacher Local

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Upholding Workers' Rights Every Day of the Year
After Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals went on the offensive and Ontario teachers entered a round of bargaining that would eventually lead to rotating strikes, our school board began a practice that would require teachers to provide documentation for absences that occurred on “special days” throughout the year. These could be days prior to a long weekend or extended holidays, such as Christmas or March Break, or single days with special significance, one such day being Black Friday, the day following the American Thanksgiving holiday. The unspoken reason being that teachers might be likely to take this day off to benefit from Black Friday sales in the US due to our close proximity to the American border. It wasn’t enough that our banked sick days had been stolen from us, now they were going to question our professional ethics.

So, the practice of requiring documentation, for example a doctor’s note, remained in place for several years. Our superintendent of human resources was staunchly anti-union and very difficult (read impossible) to work with. Many issues in the board resulted in grievances being files, and many of those went to arbitration due to his abject refusal to work with our local leaders in the best interest of both educators and students.

The retirement of this superintendent in the fall of 2016 brought about a significant change in the working relationship between our released officers and the Human Resources department. external image 2ZBq1YzrdCMlKJhX_UBlnIb41YQ6-hvKcu7z0RWzEQNUnMsc274k7Mre_uMcMiFcTq6uPzAh1iUhmFp3uIGc3f9i80XEftWDQodT5EvAy-jR37_y1EdtAVKjgsvpu0FTEJMP4guyHowever, the practice of requiring documentation, which wasn’t an official HR policy, was still being followed by administrators. Another issue around this demand was that teachers were unaware that administrators could not ask for medical notes and that requests for them must come directly from HR. In all honesty many administrators themselves are unclear about this, or at least pretend to be. Perhaps they are just preying on the lack of awareness, but I’d rather hope that it is the former. Therefore, because of this ignorance of actual policy, teachers were complying with these demands. So, the one-size-fits-all approach to attendance management continued despite being grossly unfair.

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Black Friday 2017 was almost upon us and teachers needed days off. There was a twist this year. Two teachers requested family care days. Their administrator demanded documentation from the doctors of the family members. Trusting her gut, one of the members contacted the school steward who informed her that the administrator ask for medical documentation, only human resources could. However, shortly after speaking with the administrator, the teacher received an email that had been forwarded from HR through the administrator, requesting the documentation.

The steward, who had quickly contacted the local released officers, discovered that the school board could not ask for medical documentation of a family member, nor were the members required to supply it. When the member returned to the steward with the email in hand, the steward promptly informed her of this. The administrator still would not let this go, despite being made aware of the illegality of the request and the stress she must have known it was causing the members.

With this new piece of information, and the knowledge that the exact same email was sent to another teacher in the school, the steward
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contacted the office yet again. After the conversation with the steward, Vice President Brian Barker immediately got in contact with the superintendent of Human Resources to discuss the issue. She was apparently unaware that this had been a practice in the past and promised to look into it. Our local released officers were unwilling to budge on this and pushed to have each case looked at on an individual basis. They suggested that human resources look at the absence history of an educator and, if there seemed to be a pattern of taking these days off, request the documentation if it was booked as a sick day. However, if there was no pattern, or the teachers had barely used any sick days at all, as was the case with the teachers above, then there would be no request. In no circumstance were they to request documentation for non-employees.

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Black Friday 2017 marked the end of the blanket approach to medical documentation. The local office shared the news that the Human Resources superintendent had informed her staff that employee absences would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that blanket letters requiring documentation would no longer be sent out. It marked a victory for the right to privacy and dignity for all members and their families here in Niagara.

Emailing Members Directly: Improving Communication and Increasing Member Engagement

Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, ETFO Niagara started using MailChimp to send the Bare Essentials newsletter and other local communications, such as event and workshop flyers, directly to members’ personal email accounts. Prior to this, school stewards received these communications and would then forward them to their worksite colleagues. Alternatively, members could sign up to receive the newsletter. external image ksl3uNWpvJ2RGj9VEn14sbhpnSd9Cj3JTmpIbAcjVF3Ues7f_7719ILCzbdrjdq-9x6y7_i3NbryH3FGn2HSRH3C-kJQI2OXwrKoSfenVRwXvUChj_h-rxMz6oP9kbkSw-wtwqlD

Unfortunately, stewards did not always forward information in a timely manner or at all. Also, this method of communication required school stewards to maintain an updated list of their colleagues' personal email addresses. Our released officers felt that sending information directly to each member would eliminate these weak or broken links in the communications chain. Now, for example, if teachers change schools they can still receive union news in a timely and reliable manner. Sixty percent of members opened the January 2018 issue of Bare Essentials. Prior to using MailChimp, the local’s released officers could only guess how many teachers were reading the newsletter.

Collecting personal email addresses has been part of the local’s yearly database updates for several years. However, during the 2016-17 school year, members were asked to give explicit permission to the local if they wished to receive email communications. This was a necessary step for the local to comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), since some communications (e.g., event ticket sales) are considered advertising. Ninety-five percent of ETFO Niagara’s members now receive Bare Essentials and flyers for events and workshops directly. Having fewer than 1500 subscribers (1475) allows the local to use MailChimp for free. This makes it a more attractive option than fee-for-service systems, like Constant Contact, by helping the local control costs.

Vice President Brian Barker set up the MailChimp account and manages it as part of his Communications portfolio. Office Administrator, Tena Barthe, added a section to the personal data sheets of newly-hired teachers that allows them to check a box and sign if they wish to receive emails from the local. Also, personal email addresses are updated yearly along with the other personal data of members. The email addresses are then exported from the database to the MailChimp account whenever the account needs to be updated.
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Among the benefits of direct email communication is increased member engagement. Member responses to surveys and participation in local workshops
increased almost immediately. The following examples demonstrate how better communication translates into increased member participation in the local’s events:

  • Attendance at the Fall General Meeting was up 17% from the Spring AGM.
  • Eight hundred members followed a link to a survey regarding extreme temperatures in schools.
  • The “Teacher Performance Appraisals” workshop had 4 participants in 2016 and 15 in 2017.
  • The Growing in Your Teaching Career program attracted 19 participants during the 2016-17 school year after six weeks of advertising. In 2017-18, this same program registered 25 teachers and added 5 more to a waiting list in two days!
  • A new initiative, the “Wellness for Educators” workshop, got 10 registrants in 2 days. After a second session was added, 5 more teachers signed up in a week.
  • Members who signed up for the “Winter Festravaganza”, our annual party for children and their families, increased by 28% this year.

The fact that VP Barker can analyse open rates and track year-to-year registration helps the local evaluate members’ interest and participation in the programs and events offered.

Niagara Local - Union Release Days

Under the previous terms of the Niagara Collective Agreement, the local office was granted 40 days of union release time. These days were loosely monitored by the board, until the 2013-2014 school year. In the heightened political environment, the board made more of a conscious effort to enforce this element of the collective agreement. For the first time, the board put the local office on notice when it was approaching the 40 days.

During this time of job action, there was an increased need for release days. This, combined with being put on notice, drew attention to the fact that 40 release days was often not enough.

The board's position was that teachers belonged in the classroom and that there was no need for these release days. However, in November 2015, the collective bargaining team successfully gained an increase in days. We now have 50 union release days, plus an additional 3 days that can be used for a mass release. Not only did we gain 10 individual days, but we gained 3 days that can be used to release all 85 stewards at once.

This bargaining accomplishment has had a positive impact on our local members. Without the addition of those days, the local wouldn't be able to release as many people for activities that build unionism within our local and our community.

Members have been released for various reasons such as:
-release of all stewards for training sessions
-to volunteer for a variety of social equity causes such as raising money for YWCA & Women's Place of Niagara
-release of all stewards for collective bargaining and job action information/organization
-to organize events that not only raise funds for local charities, but bring together members from across the board
-to volunteer with political campaigns
-to attend PD sessions with other locals (i.e. Health and Safety executive member attending Golden Horseshoe PLC)
-to attend special events (i.e. Political Action chair attending Day of Mourning)

Niagara Local - Electronic Directory

Traditionally, the ETFO Niagara Local produced a paper copy of its Member Directory, with a substantial cost to the Local budget. At the Winter General Meeting in February 2013, a motion was passed to strike a Directory Committee to explore various alternatives to the paper version.

At the first meeting of the Directory Committee in April 2013, 5 members of the Local came together to review financial information, the timeline and to propose ideas moving forward. The discussion revolved around what should be included in the directory and the intent of the directory. At this meeting it was decided that a survey of the membership was needed to understand their needs and wants.

A survey was constructed using SurveyMonkey. The intent of the survey was to determine a number of things but not limited to:

  1. To what extent do ETFO Niagara members value the Directory? and;
  2. In what format would members prefer to receive the Directory? And;
  3. What information do teachers find valuable, and would like included in the Directory?

This survey was sent out May 15, 2013 to stewards for the purpose of distributing it to all members. The survey data was collected and presented at a Directory Committee meeting on June 17, 2014. Based on the responses in the survey, the membership desired to have 4 different things included in the directory (their name, school, teaching assignment and home/cell number). The format that was most desired was to have it available online.

In order to have the directory available online, there was some work that had to be done reviewing the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to ensure that the Local was abiding by law. In order to make sure that the personal information was protected, ETFO Niagara's website had to be revamped to include a private section of the website that was password protected. A third party contractor was contacted in order to assess the feasibility of re-designing our website, and to determine the cost. After determining that it was feasible and cost effective compared to the paper version, the Local decided to proceed with the endeavour.

It was decided that the information that was to be used for members to login into the private area of the ETFO Niagara website was their last name, as well as their ETFO ID number. For this information, Deputy General Secretary Sharon O'Halloran was contacted at ETFO Provincial to formally request the ETFO ID numbers of Niagara Local members. The process was long and laborious as ETFO Provincial had to seek legal counsel to ensure that they were complying with PIPEDA. A motion was put forward at the September Executive meeting to move forward with the electronic directory, as long as the framework was in place by January 2014; if not, the paper copy would be produced for one more year. In October 2014, ETFO Niagara received word that they would be able to access the ID numbers. As a result, the Local was able to proceed. The Local needed to upgrade their web hosting package to be able to house the data, and a formal agreement was drafted between the Local and the third party contractor to begin the work necessary to make the electronic directory a reality. In order to ensure that the ETFO ID Numbers were protected, a non-disclosure agreement was drafted by ETFO Provincial and signed by the third party contractor. The Local setup fillable Excel spreadsheets that were sent electronically to each steward in October 2014. The information was compiled for ETFO members only. Members were also asked to sign a release sheet to allow their permission to have their information

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The directory went live on January 28, 2014. This is considered a major triumph for the Local. The new Directory has saved the Local close to $6000, reduced its carbon footprint, and ensures greater protection of personal information of its members. The Directory Committee will reconvene at the end of the year to reflect upon the process, and to work towards streamlining the process to make it even better moving into the next school year.

Niagara Local - Electronic Elections

In Spring 2012, the ETFO Niagara Local started to explore the possibility of conducting online elections for Local Executive. The Elections Committee, based on feedback from the membership that was conducted through a survey, endorsed the idea. The rationale was threefold. Economically, an online election was more cost effective. Secondly, the ability to be able to vote on their own time and location was appealing to the membership. Lastly, the process of tabulating the results was quicker and more precise, ensuring greater accountability by having the election overseen by a non-biased third party.

In order to allow the recommendation to become a reality, the Local Constitution had to be amended. This was done in Fall 2012.

Fast forward to 2013-2014. The ETFO Niagara Local was in an election year. The Local enlisted the help of a third party contractor to setup the voting template. The voting 'ballot' would be housed in the private members' section of the ETFO Niagara website. It is password protected, and members would need their ETFO ID number to login and access their ballot. Candidate biographies, pictures and speeches, along with election guidelines were also posted on this site for members to peruse. When nominations closed, there were two positions that were being contested – Treasurer and Social Committee Chair. The ballot was really straight forward, as there were fillable buttons beside each candidate's name. For each position, a voter would choose a candidate and then click the vote button. Once a ballot had been submitted, the voter would be locked out from the system, eliminating the possibility of multiple ballots being filled out by the same member.

After the voting closed, the results were tabulated by the third party contractor. The candidates were contacted and once they were notified if they had been successful or not, the results were posted online on the ETFO Niagara website, reported as a percentage of the popular vote.

In the very first online election, there were 121 people that voted. While voter turnout was a little low, the positions that were being contested weren't released officer positions, which could explain the lower numbers. The upside is that if the positions were filled at a General Meeting instead of the online vote, the voter turnout online is actually higher than it would've been.

In order to improve the process, a follow-up survey to the Executive and Stewards was sent out asking for feedback. The Elections Committee will examine the suggestions and utilize the feedback to improve the process for the next round of elections.

Ontario North East Occasional

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Ontario North East Teacher Local

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A large success in our local, Ontario North East is the work that we were able to achieve in regards to the surplus and recall procedures. After many years of discussions, debating, and grievances, our local was able to achieve fair and clear surplus and recall procedures for our members. These procedures are presented in a document that is organized in a flow chart. The flow chart has the articles that pertain to surplus and recall procedures, as well scenarios that are past practice and continue to be current practice.

The need of this type of document and these clearly stated procedures occurred because of 3 major incidents where our board, DSB Ontario North East began changing procedures that had previously been put in place. These changes caused many problems for our members, both affecting their position within the board and affecting their home lives.

The first major incident occurred in September of 2011 when the board changed the effective date of redundancy, which had always been August 31. This new date of June 30th meant that teachers were forced to accept positions earlier and they were possibly accepting positions that were outside their original zone of employment. One member in particular had to accept a job in a town 2 hours away. If he had declined the job, he would have lost his right to recall and his seniority. Because the member was forced to take the 1.0 position, he was then not able to accept positions closer to home that came open during the months of July and August.
Past procedures were again ignored when the board was staffing new schools in April 2014. The board decided to create a new process of staffing an Intermediate school. They sent out an email to all staff within the zone asking teachers to express an interest in moving to this new school. This process did not consider the current staff of the 2 schools who were originally teaching these positions. These positions were moving because of school closers and reallocation of grades. This new process was an arbitrary practice and unfair to the original teachers in those positions.

The final incident occurred in July 2015 when the board decided that teachers on the recall list were to be factored into the displacement process, rather than first being factored into the “surplus to school” process. Again this meant that some members on the recall list were not being fairly treated. They were being moved from their home school without consideration to the proper procedure and past practice.

These 3 incidents and corresponding grievances indicated that action needed to be taken to write the Surplus and Recall Procedures in a clear document that reflected the current and past practice. Getting the Board to agree to accept the Surplus and Recall Procedure document that our President and Vice-President created was not easy. However, after the 3 grievances and much discussion, our local leaders were able to convince the Board to accept this flow chart as an explanation of the procedures followed for surplus and recall situations. One of the most important lines in the agreed-upon process is “Staffing issues/concerns that are not addressed by the process outlined above will be determined by the Board and the Union.” The Board can no longer arbitrarily change the established process without agreement by the Union.

The hard work and perseverance of our leaders has hugely benefitted our newer members who are often in precarious positions at the end of the school year, not knowing if they will be surplus. Having clear and well established procedures recorded in a document has made this sensitive time more efficient and less stressful. This document had its first implementation in June of 2016 and supported the successful placement of teachers in positions for the new school year and fairly placed teachers on the recall listed.

Ontario North East Teacher Local

The success was in grieving our prep time article back in January 2010. The Board was directing teachers to attend PLC’s within the instructional day. If the PLC occurred during the teacher’s prep time, then they lost their prep and, therefore, did not have their minimum of 220 minutes within a 5-day cycle.

The hearing for the grievance was heard on September 16, 2010 and an award was issued on December 6th, 2010. The arbitrator declared that “…the Board acted contrary to the provisions of the collective agreement when it directed two teachers in question to attend the PLC meeting during their assigned preparation time without taking any steps to ensure that the required minimum number of preparation minutes continued to be assigned.”

The Board had to “pay back” lost prep time to those teachers who had missed their prep time (14 teachers in total…although we think there were more who lost, but didn’t tell us). Teachers are now getting their required minutes of prep. In some schools the PLC’s end prior to the end of the instructional day so that teachers can have their prep. In other schools, teachers are just told to leave when it is their prep.

The challenge with our Board is that they always wait until just before the arbitration date to settle grievances. The arbitration dates are set sometimes 18 months after the grievance is first filed. They have all that time to settle and to work out an agreement, but instead they wait until the last couple of days before the hearing to start “negotiating”. Or, they wait until the date of the arbitration to start talking about settlement. In both cases, it ends up costing more money, when a settlement could have been reached without lawyers and arbitrators.

Ottawa Carleton Occasional Teacher Local


Ottawa Occasional Teacher Local Provides Top-Notch PD to Members

The Ottawa-Carleton Occasional Teachers’ Association (OCEOTA) has long worked to provide high quality professional learning opportunities to its members. This has proven to be a challenging, yet worthwhile endeavour. One hurdle has been the fact that many members find it difficult to come out to workshops and events that are held in the evenings, so for the past seven years OCEOTA has held a Professional Learning Conference each fall. Traditionally, the Professional Learning Conference was held on a PD day, when occasional teachers wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to participate in professional learning. Over the year, the event has consistently had a turnout of 50-60 members.

At this conference members have enjoyed a networking breakfast, followed by a plenary session where the local president has given members information about key local and provincial issues. Participants then broke out into smaller groups for their choice of workshops on topics of particular interest to the union local, such as how the call-out system works, health and safety, and how to have a successful assignment as a daily occasional teacher. For the rest of the day, participants attended sessions dedicated to curriculum and equity topics, that they have selected form a list of 8 or 9 different topics. At noon members gather together for a delicious hot lunch, and spent more time getting to know their fellow OTs. This event has always been a great day, with very positive feedback from attendees.
In bargaining for the 2014-2017 Collective Agreement, a sum of $10 000 was negotiated to be paid to the local by the board for professional learning. The result of this new money was that OCEOTA was able double their budget line for Professional Learning, and also free up the money that they had previously allotted here to meet other budget pressures. It was hoped that the increase to the Professional Learning budget might allow OCEOTA to grow and improve their PL Conference, or possibly even expand to offer this event twice annually, once on a PD day in the fall and again on a PD day in the spring.

Despite these plans, the landscape of professional learning for occasional teachers in Ottawa changed when the provincial extension agreement required that the board provide a full day of PD to each occasional teacher, starting in the 2017/2018 school year. Because the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board employs 1000 to 1100 daily OTs (in addition to about 350 in LTO assignments, who participate in PD days in the schools,) the board did not have the capacity to offer professional development to all OTs on a single PD day. The board decided to instead offer sessions for OTs on each of their PD days in the hopes that all OTs would sign up to participate in paid PD on one of these days. With this new arrangement in place, OCEOTA felt that it would be unfair to ask OTs to come for PD during the day on a voluntary basis, while the board was paying those who attended their sessions, and holding the annual Professional Learning Conference on a PD day when it would be competing with the board’s offering seemed less than ideal. The decision was made for the 2017 Professional Learning Conference that the event would be held on an instructional day and that members would receive a half day’s pay for attending.
Although members in attendance appreciated the professional learning opportunity and the offer of pay, this was not a perfect solution. Even with the expanded Professional Learning budget, the conference registration needed to be capped at just under 60 participants due to costs. While it would be great to expand the conference, this will likely not be possible if participants are being paid to attend. It would be difficult to expand the conference with the board’s blessing if the event continues to be held on an instructional day, due to concerns about the availability of occasional teachers to fill assignments on that day. This is especially important since OCEOTA’s ability to run the conference relies upon free use of a board facility. Plans for next year will depend upon the availability of the facility on a PD Day which will depend on the plan OCEOTA and the Board work out for meeting the requirement for one day of paid PL for each member which is in the extension agreement for next year.

The take-home message here is that in the world of a teachers’ union local, circumstances are constantly changing, often in unpredictable ways. The challenge for locals is to roll with these changes and find ways to continue to meet the needs of their membership. Although OCEOTA is unsure whether their Professional Learning Conference will continue to be held annually, and if so, in what form, what is certain is that this local will continue to pursue their goal of providing members with an abundance of top-notch professional development opportunities.

2017 has been a year full of successes and struggles for OCEOTA (Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers Association). Some of our successes include having offered some wonderful PD, including a Professional Learning Conference in October which offered OTs a full day of many exciting workshops offered by local OCDSB and visiting ETFO presenters.

One of the big struggles that we faced this past year has been the move to our new location. We were formerly located on Antares Dr. in Ottawa and we are now located at 1150 Morrison Dr. in Ottawa. During the transition, this past year, we were given space in the OC-ETFO office. We are so very appreciative and grateful for their generous offer and welcoming into their space. We were there for 10 months. We just took possession of our new office in September 2017 and when we took possession it was an empty space. The construction of the office including: a kitchenette, photocopy/storage room, 3 private offices as well as a reception and an open/central meeting space all had to be configured and then constructed. Some additional challenges included the finances of the construction as well as the office setup due to an ever-changing list of challenges and surprises. And, needless to say, during this transition, we still needed to serve our members. Thankfully, we had the foresight to use our budget surplus each year to create a $50K Moving and Renovation Fund, in anticipation of a move, which covered most of the construction costs.

Another challenge during this time was contending with what we wanted versus what was within our budget. For example, getting the computer technology support that provided full 24-hour/problem free type of service was not within our budget. Another struggle related to technology was, and still is, what are our true needs for additional office equipment. For example, what type of projector? What type of screen? And, what types of devices do we need to make available to our members and guests when visiting our office?
Some other struggles, this fall, include the ongoing and frustrating challenges of our local automated call out system for OT job postings. A myriad of changes including the fact that our local school board continues to add more and more names to the OT list, thereby reducing the number of opportunities for work for each person and thus also reducing members’ ability to sustain themselves financially. Thankfully, a recent success has been the collaboration between the Union and the Board to plan a full day of paid PD for OTs for 2017-2018.

Furthermore, along with many other locals, we have the ongoing challenge of engaging our members and increasing overall turnout in General Meetings, voting, PL., town halls, member surveys and social events. As such, we continuously plan and offer new opportunities to support our members’ engagement in these areas. We want our members to become more actively engaged in decisions and processes that directly affect them in their day to day work and increase their individual as well as collective successes. As such, an “Every Member President’s Updates” is sent out - as issues or events present themselves - to alert our members in an accessible and timely manner.

Celebrating our sister union’s generous spirit!

Suddenly, in October of 2016 without prior notice, the owner of the building OCEOTA, Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers’ Association, rented defaulted on their mortgage and the bank eventually put the building up for sale. The result was the OCEOTA was forced to move from the mini office complex that had housed the OCEOTA president, vice-president and office administrator since 2006. Furniture was moved into storage and OCEOTA borrowed a small office from the teacher local, OC ETFO.

This gives the OCEOTA time to investigate the possibility of purchasing or finding suitable rental space. The OCEOTA are currently in negotiations to lease office space at 1150 Morrison Drive, Ottawa. Regarding the Morrison Drive location: there is access east and west from the Queensway and from the south via Greenbank Road, and is served by OC Transpo, which will benefit our members.

The OCEOTA representatives look forward to getting into their own office space in the near future. A big thank you to our sister local! The OC ETFO’s ability to graciously accommodate the OCEOTA during this challenging time has been very much appreciated.
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The Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teacher's Association (OCEOTA) has experienced victories and/or successes of all shapes and sizes over the years, in an effort to improve the working conditions of its members. Each year, the OCEOTA Executive meets for their annual training session, and it was at one of these sessions that they created their goal to raise the profile of Occasional Teachers and their organization wihin the local and provincial community, as Occasional Teachers are still a very misunderstood entity. To reach this goal, OCEOTA has become involved with many other organizations, both locally and provincially.

One organization with which OCEOTA has a regular presence is the Ottawa District Labour Council (ODLC). We attend monthly meetings and we are annual contributors of volunteers toward their Annual Day of Mourning, and their Labour Day Parade and Picnic. This past Labour Day, we assisted in serving hotdogs, corn-on-the-cob, chips, and drinks, to hundreds of people in a low-income area of Ottawa.

Through the ODLC, OCEOTA has also become involved with the Canadian Labour Congress. In October of this year, we sent one member to participate in the Rise Up Human Rights Conference, held in Ottawa. This member was able to participate in training and networking with members of a myriad group of unions from across Canada, in an effort to learn more about improving national human rights for all people.

Within the last year, our Status of Women Committee contributed toward two different organizations. First, they organized a Clothing Swap/Exchange. The leftover clothing and the cash raised were donated to a local women's shelter. Later, they contributed funds to purchase tickets for a dinner, being organized by the Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization, with funds raised going toward the support of an incoming Syrian Refugee family.

Another organization which OCEOTA has contributed is the Power of a Wish, through the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Funds raised there help fulfill wishes of sick children from across Eastern Ontario.

Finally, during the holiday season, OCEOTA contributes to three local charities. There is an annual donation toward the local Food Bank, supplying food to local families in need. Another donation goes to Operation Christmas Cheer. This group provides credits at local grocery stores, for workers who are on strike action and picket lines, to enable them to have a Christmas dinner. The final fundraiser contributes cash and winter clothing to the Snowsuit Fund. Our most recent event brought in 2 brand new snowsuits, 1 pair of snow pants, 8 adult coats, 20 hats, 37 pairs of gloves and mittens, 6 scarves, and 3 pairs of heavy socks. A companion donation of $75 will also be given.

Through all this effort and giving, the executive of OCEOTA is meeting their goal of raising the organization's public profile, while concurrently improving the lives of many. I'd call this a great success story!

Paid, Face-to-Face Health and Safety Training for Occasional Teachers

The Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers’ Association (OCEOTA) and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) have differing opinions on workplace safety. In 2011, this ongoing conflict resulted in government pressure and finally intervention.

The Employees

The employees, represented by OCEOTA, believed that all casual employees deserve to have paid health and safety training related to the dangers in their workplaces. This includes how to recognize unsafe situations & take preventative measures, worker rights & responsibilities under the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA), and what to do after an unsafe situation occurred. There was also a concern that many worksites (schools) had developed their own norms for dealing with Health & Safety concerns, and occasional teachers were therefore working in varying levels of safety depending on which school they accepted work from.

The Employer

The employer (OCDSB) felt that sending an email to all occasional teachers with a link to online Health & Safety “training” was sufficient to meet their responsibilities under that OHSA. This online quiz did not provide an opportunity to ask questions or hear the concerns of others. There were also many examples of occasional teachers who had been in unsafe situations but were told by principals that it was unnecessary to fill in the required paperwork, especially when the unsafe situations were caused by students. Sometimes the occasional teachers were not provided with safety plans and other valuable information when dealing with known violent students. Despite the ongoing threat to safety, this was not seen as a priority by the employer.

What the Occupational Health & Safety Act Says:

The OHSA, section 25, states that the general duties of an employer include:

- taking all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers;
- providing information, instruction, and supervision to protect worker health and safety; and
- developing and implementing an occupational health and safety program and policies.

OCEOTA felt the employer was not fulfilling these mandatory duties. The OCDSB felt that they were meeting the minimum standard of what they were obligated to do.

The Outcome

An unfortunate incident where an ETFO member was injured on the job sparked increased pressure from OCEOTA. This drew attention from the Ministry of Labour (MOL). Throughout the Fall of 2011, the MOL made visits to OCDSB worksites to assess the situation. The MOL decided that the the OCDSB must provide its occasional teachers with Health & Safety training. The board responded by sending out an online training link. OCEOTA did not believe that this was acceptable. The MOL then ordered the OCDSB to provide paid, face-to-face Health & Safety training to all occasional teachers. Under the threat of a hefty fine if they did not meet the deadline, the OCDSB agreed.

Despite this success, Health & Safety is still an ongoing concern for OCEOTA members. If we keep fighting for our rights and winning other small victories, we can create a workplace where safe and responsible practices are commonplace.

New Occasional Teacher Orientation

It was only a few years ago that Occasional Teachers (OT) hired with the OCDSB did not have the opportunity to attend any type of orientation. They started their journey as an OT with very little information. The Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers Association (OCEOTA) lobbied the board for some time to hold an orientation as part of the hiring process. Finally, we were successful, at the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee, in getting a recommendation accepted that each year, all new Board employees would receive H & S Training at an Orientation Session. Finally an Occasional Teacher Orientation became a reality.

The Annual New OT Orientation gives the new OT's a chance to hear information about the board, including the call-out system for accepting assignments. The first part of the orientation is presented by representatives of the board. During the second part, representatives from the OCEOTA executive introduce a variety of topics to its newest members. It is usually the President, Vice-President and one other executive member who make the Federation presentation.

This time provides a great opportunity for these new members to learn about ETFO and OCEOTA. They hear about the roles, rights and responsibilities they have as members and are introduced to the Collective Agreement, from which a few highlights are discussed. There are also other pieces of information presented such as Health & Safety matters, OCEOTA’s Handbook, Communication methods and “A Day in the Life of an OT”. This provides practical tips and helps OT's understand their responsibilities as an occasional teacher in a school. Current topics that impact their employment, such as Regulation 274, are also discussed. We give them a schedule of the OCEOTA Professional Learning workshops organized for the fall, provide time for questions and give each member an invitation to the OCEOTA Fall GM.

For many OT's new to the board, this event is their introduction to their union. It helps them understand what we can do for them. They see that OCEOTA offers them individual support, advice and representation when needed. They see that OCEOTA works on behalf of all members to provide Professional Learning and to bargain for improved working conditions.

The new OT orientation is a true success – it not only provides the new hires with valuable information related to their position as an Occasional Teacher but it offers a chance for them to meet the people who will be answering their emails and phone calls. It gives new members a chance to connect and understand their union, something that can be quite a challenge when these members are spread out among numerous workplaces.

Ottawa Carleton Teacher Local

The Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (OCETFO) vs. Bill 115 (Putting Students First Act)

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History of the Issue:
In the fall of 2012, premier Dalton McGuinty and Education Minister Laurel Broten passed Bill 115 or The Putting Students First Act. Bill 115 allowed the provincial government to set rules that local school boards must adhere to when negotiating with local unions and imposed collective agreements on the board, when negotiations were not completed by December 31, 2012. This bill also limited the legal right for teachers' unions to go on strike.
Here are some of the terms of BILL 115
  • The Ontario Labour Relations Board was prohibited from inquiring into whether this act was constitutionally valid, or if it was in conflict with the Human Rights Code.
  • No arbitrator or arbitration board was permitted to inquire into whether this act is constitutionally valid, or if it was in conflict with the Human Rights Code.
  • No terms or conditions included in a collective agreement under the act could be questioned or reviewed in any court.
  • All teachers were subject to a two year pay freeze.
  • A restructured short-term sick leave plan that included up to 10 sick days.
  • No salary increases in the 2012-2014 school years.
  • All teachers received a 1.5% pay cut in the form of three unpaid professional development days (PD days)
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What OCETFO did to resolve the issue:
Needless to say teachers in Ottawa, and across the province, were appalled by Bill 115 and McGuinty’s complete turn around on collective bargaining and local agreements. In protest, our union began a work-to-rule campaign that included stopping voluntary activities, such as leading clubs or sports teams, and offering extra help after school. Being in the nation’s capital has its advantages. McGuinty’s office was located in the city and hundreds of teachers and other unions workers (CUPE, OSSTF) picketed and protested outside of his office on a daily basis.
Our union organized and invited many other unions and held a huge protest outside of the then, newly built downtown Ottawa Shaw Centre (close to the parliament buildings).
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The resolution:

After months of political action, member engagement, protests, town halls, and general information sharing with the public and the media, Dalton McGuinty resigned and was replaced by Kathleen Wynne in early 2013. McGuinty denied pressure from unions as a reason for his resignation but one can’t help but believe the impact ours actions had on his departure. Talks resumed and the Wynne government made a series of concessions, including a raise for elementary teachers, longer maternity leaves and fewer unpaid professional days.

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Victory and impact on the membership:

The Ontario government violated teachers’ Charter rights in 2012, when it temporarily suspended the right to strike and imposed contracts on some teacher unions. In April, 2016, Bill 115 was found to be unconstitutional. The decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found the province contravened the unions’ right to collective bargaining under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This ruling was a major win, not only for ETFO and other teacher unions in Ontario, but for all Canadians. It proved that not even the ruling government of the day has the legal right to impose contracts and limit collective bargaining. It’s a constitutional right for all unions!
Although we realize that it wasn’t solely our political protests and actions in Ottawa-Carleton that made the difference, we do believe that our solidarity with our comrades across the province helped tremendously!

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A Positive Girl Focused Message!


OCETF’s Status of Women Committee, in partnership with ETFO and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) held its first Girls’ Group Conference for junior female students. All costs associated with the conference were covered by OCETF’s Status of Women Committee and ETFO.

This conference's vision was birthed at an OCETF 2013 Women's Retreat in Ottawa, where women were challenged to see a problem in their local and take courageous steps in order to help solve the problem. Nicole Phillips and Marcia Evans, members of the Status of Women Committee and the Multicultural Committee, noticed that there were not many citywide conferences, events or activities that focused on promoting healthy lifestyle choices (body and mind) and ways to develop strong relationships for junior aged girls in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. So they planned this conference with the support and guidance of Lorna Evans, an OCETF executive member.

So on Friday, March 6th 2015, 55 grade 5 and 6 girls from 3 schools in Ottawa came together at Elizabeth Park Public School for the day. The conference provided female students with a safe place to share, discuss, question and develop an awareness of issues that affected their lives. It gave them an opportunity to acquire leadership skills in their school and community. It fostered connections between the girls, while strengthening their self-esteem and self-growth as a girl in a local and global world.


A Girl's Pledge

I am a girl.

I am an expression of beauty, joy, and love.

I have the right, the power and the ability, to

create a beautiful, joyful and peaceful world

for myself and others.

I have a face, but I am not my face.

I am the light of the world!

I can create!

I can make a mistake!

I can create something beautiful in all that I do.

I deserve the best.

I give my best.

I do my best to always take care of me!


I am the joy the world is waiting for.

Pledge adapted from Iyanla Vanzant,

Don’t Give It Away

The day was filled with exciting, interactive and inspiring activities, workshops, meals and take home packages. All the presenters were OCDSB teachers and local community members. For example, the day consisted of 30 minutes of rotational break-out sessions with 15-20 girls in each one.

Nicole Phillips, OCDSB Teacher, led the ice breaker activity entitled “Who Am I?” which allowed the girls to see their differences and similarities between themselves and other girls at the conference.



Joan Oliver, RCMP Sr. Editor/Public Speaker, led a session entitled “The Power of a Story”. She told the girls her personal story of moving to Canada at the age of eight from the Caribbean and embedded the story of how a pearl is formed under pressure. Each girl was able to see Joan open a shell and see a real unique pearl inside. As well, each girl received a colourful small compact mirror with the message “You are unique to make a difference, so be kind!” written on the back of it.


Christie Parcigneau, Fitness Expert, led the girls through a series of breathing and physical exercises that they could use if they felt anxious or tired.


Marcia Evans, OCDSB Teacher, did vision boards with the girls which allowed them to create positive "I Am" messages and images that represented who they are and who they want to be.


Andrea Stellmach, OCDSB Health Nurse, led a workshop entitled “Communication and Listening” which gave the girls strategies to effectively communicate and listen with people of all ages.


Sarah Mastora, OCDSB Psychologist, led a workshop entitled “How to be Resilient” which gave the girls coping strategies that they could use during every season in their life.


The day wrapped up with the girls writing a letter to themselves about the things they learned and the action they would take based on what they learned. These letters were mailed to the girls' schools 2 months later as a reminder of what they wrote to themselves and as a follow-up to the March 2015 Girls' Group Conference.


As well, they had the opportunity to reflect on what they learned and enjoyed by completing a sticky style survey.


The day was a great success with an overwhelming positive response from local OCDSB teachers, staff members, parents and of course the girls themselves!


Girls’ Group Conference 2016 is already being planned for 3 more schools in the Ottawa area. We cannot wait to bring the message of positive self esteem, hope and resiliency to more junior female students in the OCDSB.

Peel Occasional Teacher Local

Agreed to have a priority list
Spring 1996 (PAM system started in 1995)
It was requested by PEOT members because they were being sent to different schools and principals wanted to be able call teachers who frequently taught at their schools.

Priority list can be further prioritized by the schools where 4 OTs can be number 1 priority. The remaining OTs can be prioritized anyway they wish.
April 24, 1995
See time line for the system memo.

Some people were phoned individually to go to schools where there was no OTs.
There were shortages of occasional teachers in some schools in some areas of the Board. This was to ensure that all schools had coverage.

Teacher can request a specific teacher on the PAM system
With Dispatch system, teachers had been able to request a specific OT with PAM. This was not possible. It was an option both the teachers and OTs wanted.

Dishonest bookings
Schools are requested to clarify the assignment with dispatcher
Dec. 11, 1990

To be sent 2x/year
Agreed to send letter to principals
Feb. 7, 1994
June 1993
OT had concerns with what information principals needed to know from the CA and the PDSB handbook.
First letter was sent Sept. 1993

This information has been added to the Superintendents’ Binder
Sept 2010
The Superintendents’ Binder is used by Supt. when meeting with their principals to ensure all are singing from the same hymn book.
PPVPA meeting
To be able to meet with the principal’s group. Started officially with Pam Tomasavic
November 1, 2000
To discuss concerns between OTs and principals. Before, the communication was via the Board. The principals had refused to meet with the OTs but complained to the Board. Discussion to meet has been ongoing since about 1994.

New OT Evaluation form finalized
Sept 2010
Started to use it in Sept 2010. Finalized at end of 2009-2010 school year.
OTs were assured that no preferential treatment were given to new hires
May 11, 1994

New hire sign on were 1/year. President was allowed to address New Hires
Over 100 new hires would have to be present at a Board’s orientation meeting where Union Rep. would speak to them.

PEOT was allowed to address new hires at the new hires’ sign on for 15 minutes—when new hires were being signed on weekly
June 2004
To introduce the new hires to the Union.

The time spent with new hires was extended to 30 minutes
June 2006

Time spent with new hires was increased to 1 hour.
Jun 2007
The local was given time to address new hires AFTER the alpha clerks since the clerks complained of waiting. The local usually wrapped up in 1-2 minutes once the clerk appeared but that was too much for the clerks to wait.
Members are to be paid by the Board for any Board called meetings where members are required to be in attendance.
March 15, 1995

Look into cost and type up OT tags
Every since it has come up for discussion at a liaison meeting

Schools will order extra generic name tags with Occasional Teachers on it.
2007-2008 school year
PEOT requested name tags for OT since April 1997. Was to be tied into the new security that was in effect in all schools. It was requested to identify OTs in the schools and as the years went on for security reasons since more strangers were walking into schools. Schools are to ensure they have enough generic badges on lanyards with the school name and “Occasional Teacher” clearly stated.

Name tags are still being discuss with the board
No solution.
The local would like schools to have enough keys for all OTs
Ongoing discussions with no solution. Both PPVPA and HR have not been able to solve this problem. PEOT has suggested a sign out of keys but it has still not been implemented. Keys will always go missing no matter how many are ordered. No one is managing this at the school level.

Keys are being provided for OTs now.
Discussions through Health and Safety, Director’s Council and letters to trustees. The incident at Sandy Hook had provided the Board with impetus to provide keys to OTs.
The Board sent a memo to all schools to update their start times on PAM
Start times weren’t accurate on the system

PEOT will receive dues and levy from teachers placed on OT list
Agreement made during negotiations for new CA.
Retired statutory teachers will not be hired as OT
June 20, 1995

Need an evaluation once they have been recommended to the OT list
May 2005
Retired teachers were becoming OTs and not having an evaluation completed. This was current practise until challenged by PEOT because it is in our CA that ALL OTs should be evaluated.

Must apply to VIP posting for OTs
Sept 2010
Central Hiring – limiting principal recommendations and controlling/tracking of all hiring centrally to the OT List. Retired teachers must apply to VIP posting in order to get onto the OT List.
Release for Federation Executive member and/or work for federation were pay rolled through the Board, so that pension and other deductions will occur.
April 13, 1995
Days weren’t counted for pension purposes and Board employment.
A Local levy was started at $1.00 per month
May 1998
Came into effect in Sept. 1998. First local levy

Local levy shall be 0.2%
May 1999
Came into effect in Sept. 1999

Local levy shall be 0.25%
May 2000
Came into effect in Sept. 2000

Local levy shall be 0.3%
May 2001
Came into effect in Sept. 2001

Local levy shall be 0.33%
May 2002
Originally it was 0.325 but the Board couldn’t use the formula because of the # of digits. Came into effect in Sept. 2002

Local levy shall be 0.29%
May 2006
Came into effect in Sept. 2006

The Board supported OT binders being in all schools
Information in binder to include: CA, handbooks, LTO postings, OT notices, PD etc.

Stopped using binders in schools
May 11, 1994
It wasn’t working. No one to keep the binder up to date.

OT binder system was then modified to have space on bulletin boards, and an OT mail box

Email was not to be used to dispatch new hires or any daily OT
Feb. 7, 1994

Started to have list. Four OTs shall be number 1 on a school’s priority list, with the rest in any order
April 24, 1995
Principals and teachers wanted to be able to call specific OTs.

PEOT members polled for CB new for new 2008-12 CA
8 percent of members who responded, wanted to maintain the use of the priority list, either as is or amended.

Discussed the possibility of turning off priority callout during the morning hours
Feb 2010 – Nov 2010
The board was investigating but also indicated it was a decision that would require much input and involve many more people. Feeling was schools would not want to give up the ability to specify certain OTs.
It was reported by the board that e-Schools had indicated it was not possible. Must be all or nothing, not both, i.e. use priority callout all the time or not at all.
Board gave the number of OTs hired to permanent positions—109 OTs were hired to the permanent teachers list
Nov. 12, 1997

Board was looking into schools that removed planning time—they weren’t supposed to be doing that
June 1997

OT shall have the schedule of the teacher
2008-12 CA
“shall” was specified. The OT would also determine how that PT would be spent.
Letter of Intent Meeting with CB Committee and Marty Fowler
Marty Fowler agreed that OTs doing prep time payback should not be performing supervision duty. Marty will notify Supt. and PEOT should call Marty or Supt. if this occurs.
The Board and the OT Local have agreed to exchange pertinent info. To each other on a more regular basis
June 1997

Implementation of monitors by Peel
Jan 2001

Grievance filed with the board for monitor use.
May 2010
There was no shortage of OTs and some schools were using too many monitors while OTs sat at home without work. PEOT wanted the use of monitors eliminated.

Board agreed to suspend the use of monitors and informs all principals
Sept 2010
No shortage of OTs. Monitors no longer needed.

Board began to use monitors again.
Jan 2014
Due to the large number of unfilled jobs from the 2012-13 school year and with it continuing again in the 2013-14 school year, the board was not only hiring new OTs but also reinstituted the use of Monitors.
Recommendations to OT List
Board agreed to limit a principal’s recommendations to one per school year
Sept 2010
In order to contain all of the hiring all hiring to OT list would be via VIP but board still wanted to give principal the ability to recommend that one shining star. Principals were recommending up to 5 per year.

The board was not including permanent teachers with part-time assignments nor those on maternity leave
Sept 2010
These would not be part of the one recommendation limit. HR felt they had done enough in Sept 2010 to limit recommendations to the OT List.

Computer Access
Generic user id for OTs called zteach
June 2001
Allow OTs access to email and PAM

svisitorXYZ user id
Sept 2010
A user id at the school level that had access to all applications that students have access to. Will allow OT the ability to teach computer lab classes.

The Board was rolling out the Active Directory environment.
Sept 2013
The Board if converting its Novel environment to Active Directory. OTs would be using their P00 numbers and email passwords to access the new environments. Greater access would exist for all OTs.
Assignment End Time
OTs to remain 15 minutes after the dismissal bell before leaving for the day
The chair of the Local Liaison Committee responded to the Chair of HR when the problem was raised that some OTs were leaving school before the students at the end of the day. There was no data re: how frequently this happened. But the Liaison Chair simply said, "I don't have any problem with our members staying 15 minutes at the end of the day." It was a statement that has now become a more serious problem for members. This caused a great concern for the Chair of the Collective Bargaining committee at the time. After that the Constitution was changed so that Liaison always had a member of the CA committee on it.
Report Cards
Letter of Intent Meeting between Board and CB Committee
Board representative stated it was the principal’s discretion as to who would do the report cards, Board policy focussed more on the student, that is, How long the student should be in a classroom before being assessed. Nothing about teachers. She did say if the OT was in the classroom for less than two weeks, there was a good chance they would not be completing report cards, but more than two weeks, they should be.
LTO Paid during Investigation
Letter of Intent Meeting between Board and CB Committee.
The agreement that LTOs should be paid as are teachers.
Balanced Day School
Letter of Intent Meeting between Board and CB Committee
Further agreement that the classroom teacher should remain in the classroom for the 15 minutes allowing the OT had time to review and understand the day plans. Marty and Shelley suggest PEOT contact the Superintendent if this is a problem.

Peel Elementary Teachers' Local

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PETL & Supervision Duty

Prior to September 2004 teachers in Peel had varying amounts of supervision duty. It was undefined and unregulated, and varied greatly between schools in how it looked and in the amount of time assigned. For some schools it could mean a teacher had three 15 minute recess duties per week, while at others a teacher could have 25 minutes of duty in one of their two nutrition breaks per day.

With the 2004-2008 Collective Agreement “Supervision Time” was now defined and included in the contract. It outlined that supervision was to be outside of the instructional day, and described various assigned duties and when they could take place. It established a limit and began the process for reducing the duty as years on the contract elapsed, beginning with a cap of 100 minutes per 5 day cycle and reducing it to 80 minutes per 5 day cycle, which continues to hold today. It was also established with this contract, a Joint Supervision Committee with 4 Board and 4 Local representatives tasked with the approval and dispute resolution of supervision schedules.

In the 2008-2012 Collective Agreement “Supervision Time” was moved to appear under the “Working Conditions” section, and a hard maximum of 80 minutes per 5 instructional days was included, as was it to be “assigned on as equitable a basis as possible”, without further explanation of equitable.

In the Bill 115 era, the 2014-2017 Collective Agreement and today’s 2017-2019 Extension Agreement Contract, the Joint Supervision Committee now consisted of designated Board and Local representatives, and established the use of approved templates for schools to use and submit.

Thirteen years and counting from the initial introduction of Supervision Time into the Collective Agreement, and what supervision in schools looks like is no longer at the whim of the administration. It is, rather, assigned by a more clearly defined set of contractual articles, and teachers are no longer burdened by unlimited or daily minutes, no longer pitted against one another as previous duties varied by location and duration.

Classroom Closures in Peel emphasize the Power of Association

In June 2016, the Peel District School Board began the process of closing classrooms due to a funding shortfall. Funds for maintaining buildings are tied to school enrollment. For the second year, the Board received a reduction in top-up funding for schools not operating at full enrollment capacity. The impact of this Ministry funding shortfall for the 2016-2017 year was $2.8 million while funding for the 2017-2018 school year would be decreased by approximately $2.2 million. Budgeting for the upcoming 2016/2017 school year included a recommendation by staff to close unfunded spaces. This recommendation was made in order to balance the budget. Therefore, in June 2016, the Board had its Facilities Managers begin conducting “Space Audits” at schools with vacant spaces. For the purposes of this process, the definition for vacant spaces included spaces within the school that did not house a homeroom class. Homeroom classrooms have students and funding linked to them. Therefore, classrooms used by Music and French educators to provide programming to multiple classes in one thoughtfully prepared classroom were the prime targets for closure. Also on the chopping block were classrooms and spaces (such as stages) held open solely for the use of before and after school care programs. The Board did not consult with a variety of stakeholders about the closure of spaces: nor did it clearly communicate the reasons behind the “Space Audits” or the procedures that were to be followed for the identification of classrooms to be closed. Teachers, administrators and custodial staff alike were left wondering which rumors to believe and who had the actual answers.

The Peel Elementary Teachers Local began discussions with the Board at once as well as communicated with its members before the end of the 2015-2016 school year. In its communication with its members, the PETL acknowledged the problems created by the closure of classroom spaces and referred members to further information around the PETL stance against classroom closures. Issues acknowledged as arising due to classroom closures included the loss of dedicated classroom spaces for the Arts and French programs as well as the sharing of space with colleagues. It is not difficult to appreciate the challenges faced by educators with a classroom “on a cart” as well as by those homeroom teachers welcoming travelling educators into their classrooms. Although the Chair of the Board, Janet McDougal and the Director of Education, Tony Pontes refused to acknowledge that it is better for both teachers and students for a program to be received in a dedicated space, we as educators know that a dedicated teaching space is important. In the new age of 21st Century classrooms and self-regulation, educators need a dedicated space in order to create an environment condusive to these philosophies. Educators need to plan and organize their learning spaces to meet the needs of their particular students and subjects.

Along with ETFO’s Building Better Schools campaign, the PETL referred to the following ETFO policy statements to inform their stance against classroom closures.

ETFO Policy statements:

7.2 That arts and culture programs be mandated in schools and fully funded by the provincial government.

36.3 That French as a Second Language teachers have their own classroom.

26.7 That the formula for funding elementary pupil spaces be amended to ensure that elementary schools are safe and well maintained environments with sufficient space to provide for both the physical and pedagogical needs of elementary students.

Strong opposition to the closure of spaces from PETL as well as other stakeholders resulted in the deferral of closures from June 2016 to September 2016 Reorganization. However, this was merely a deferral of a problem that would still need to be addressed.

A meeting of the PETL Executive was held on August 31, 2016. At this time, the Executive received an update on the classroom closures issue. This meeting was also a time for Executive members to raise and discuss concerns for consideration of the PETL Released Officers as they worked to resolve the situation with Peel District School Board. At this time, the Executive was informed that the classroom closures could not be grieved as dedicated classrooms are not addressed in our collective agreement. It was also noted that the Peel District School Board was not the first school board in the province to begin the process of closing classrooms. Given this information, the Executive agreed that PETL’s response would have to be more political in nature. The PETL Executive also acknowledged the importance of engaging stakeholders outside of its own membership.

On the evening of August 31, 2016 PETL President, Steve Dénommée addressed the School Board Trustees at a Regular Meeting of the Board during the Public Question Period. The Minutes of the meeting state,

“Steve Dénommée, President, Peel Elementary Teachers Local (PETL), spoke on behalf of elementary teachers in Peel. He expressed disappointment in the decision to close vacant classrooms that will require Core French and Vocal Music programs to utilize carts instead of having dedicated classrooms, across the Board this Fall. He acknowledged the Board’s difficulty in balancing the budget with cuts in top-up funding from the Ministry, but noted that the Board has passed a budget that has led to closure of these classrooms. Steve Dénommée spoke about the negative effects of not having dedicated classrooms for French and music programs, the difficulties of setting up and taking down classroom spaces, and inability to create a space that enriches the learning environment to effectively deliver the curriculum. He commented that the closure of classrooms will devalue and demoralize teaching staff and affect student success. Steve Dénommée expressed appreciation for the continued cooperation and support from the Director’s Office on this issue. He asked trustees to consider the negative impact on elementary teachers.” (Peel District School Board, August 31, 2016, Regular Meeting of the Board, page 10. Accessed from: http://www.peelschools.org/trustees/boardagendas/minutes/Documents/August%2031%202016%20Regular%20Meeting%20of%20the%20Board.pdf )

The PETL continued to communicate with its members into early September through an open letter posted on its public website as well as through a professional reminder posted via PETL’s Member Secure site.

The next scheduled Board meeting took place on September 13th, 2016. Earlier in the day, both the Mississauga News and CBCNews published articles regarding the classroom closures in Peel. Both media outlets spoke with the PETL President, Steve Dénommée and included the PETL stance in their articles. View the Mississauga News article and the CBCNews article.
This Board meeting was the venue for a “Sing-In” protest organized by Music educators and supported by PETL. Barbara Cogan, Chair of the Junior Elementary Music Makers Association of Peel passionately addressed the Trustees as a delegate for the Music educators. The minutes of the meeting summarized the words of Barbara Cogan.

“Barbara Cogan stated that the Association does not agree that closing vacant classrooms is in the best interest of students. Indicating that music rooms have a variety of instruments that costs a significant amount of money, she referred to the administration’s message that elementary instrumental music programs which clearly make use of musical instruments will continue in dedicated classrooms. She asked as to who determines the qualification for instrumental music program, and she raised concerns regarding equity, storage of music resources, and workspace for music teachers. Barbara Cogan reported that vocal music programs also involve musical instruments and valuable resources. Advising that instruments at many schools have been acquired through fundraising by parent councils, or may have been donated by supporters of the arts program, she commented that these may now not be available to students. Expressing respect for the music programs provided by teachers on carts, she remarked that this is a necessity when there is no available space. Suggesting that only a portion of the shortfall in provincial funding is needed to keep music classrooms open, Barbara Cogan stated that music programs are spaces where students feel safe, included and respected, and that the investment in art programs will result in enhanced student retention. She spoke about the challenge in adjusting the workload of custodial staff, and suggested that music rooms can be quickly cleaned. Concluding her delegation, Barbara Cogan asked the Board to support music teachers and give parents and students the message that Peel DSB values the arts. In response to a trustee’s question of clarification regarding cleaning music rooms, Barbara Cogan indicated that students do not enter into the room with muddy boots, eatables are generally not permitted in the room and musical instruments are returned to shelves at the end of the day, which makes these rooms quick to clean.” (Peel District School Board, September 13, 2016, Regular Meeting of the Board, page 5. Accessed from: http://www.peelschools.org/trustees/boardagendas/minutes/Documents/September%2013%202016%20Regular%20Meeting%20of%20the%20Board.pdf)

This meeting was covered in the Mississauga News the next day. View the article.

It was after this Regular Meeting of the Board that a resolution began to seem feasible. Along with PETL, the members of the Junior Elementary Music Makers Association of Peel, CUPE 2544, the media, and the community began to put pressure on the Board to reconsider their decision to close classrooms. Please see the below table for links to the all of the various news releases and articles. CUPE 2544 began expressing concerns through a public news posting on their own website on September 16th, 2016 and followed up days later with another post. The music educators did not back down after their protest and chance to be heard. The Junior Elementary Music Makers began collecting statements of impact regarding the classroom closures. The PETL continued to monitor the situations and engage the Board and Trustees in discussion. It was not the work of just the PETL that brought around the resolution. Instead, the resolution to this classroom issue speaks to the power and importance of our Canadian right of freedom of association. Many groups of people worked to put pressure on a governing body and they were successful in obtaining results.

On September 21, 2106, without notice, an Extraordinary Meeting of the Board was held. At this meeting, the Board deliberated on the classroom closures. Resolution No. 16-186 was moved and carried “that for the 2016-2017 school year, the Board directs the administration to use up to $1,000,000 from in-year savings and, if necessary, from the uncommitted Working Fund Reserve, to provide cleaning services in a maximum of two non-funded permanent classrooms or three in very exceptional circumstances at schools which are below Ministry Rated Capacity.” (Peel District School Board, Extraordinary Meeting of the Board, September 21, 2016, page 3. Accessed from: http://www.peelschools.org/trustees/boardagendas/minutes/Documents/September%2021%202016%20Extraordinary%20Meeting%20of%20the%20Board.pdf)

Although it is likely that delegates representing the many labour affiliates, professional groups and other stakeholder previously involved in opposing the classroom closures would have liked to be present at this Extraordinary Meeting of the Board, it is also likely that most members of these groups were not overly disappointed in the Board’s decision. As a result of this decision, fewer classrooms would be closed.

The Peel District School Board posted a news release regarding decision the later that evening. View the news release.

The next Regular Meeting of the Board was scheduled for September 27, 2016. At this meeting, the issue continued to be pressed by the Junior Elementary Music Makers Association of Peel as they circulated statements of impact regarding classroom closures. The Board responded by receiving the statements and informed the public assembled at the meeting of their previous decision carried on September 21, 2017.

CUPE 2544 also continued to apply pressure on the Board through a public news post on September 29, 2016.

The PETL provided further communication to its members on October 7, 2016 through a letter posted on its Member Secure site. The letter to PETL members outlined the Board’s decision to ‘pause’ classroom closures as well as the conditions that must be met in order for classrooms to remain open.

The resolution to this issue was not a grievance based on labour laws, human right or even on our collective agreement. It was necessary for the Board to feel pressure from many stakeholders and to engage the politicians involved with our education system. In the end, it is important to remember that our School Board Trustees are elected officials who must be accountable to their constituents and that they hold the final vote. Our freedom to associate and democracy are the true heroes in this resolution. Each group of stakeholders exerted their right to associate and to pursue their common interest and goal.

At first glance, this PETL success may seem small; but it is mighty. It saved some classrooms from closure for the year. In doing so it positively affected the working conditions of many teachers and positively affected the learning conditions of many more students for one school year. However, the strong message of opposition heard in the Fall of 2016 not only caused for the Board to re-consider classroom closures for the 2016-2017 school year but also for the following 2017-2018 school year. It will be interesting to find out how the Board will progress with the classroom closure issue as it begins to move into planning for the 2018-2019 school year. Furthermore, this issue and success highlighted the need for designated classrooms to be an issue in the next round of bargaining. Finally, and most importantly, this PETL success emphasizes the power of association and of relationships. Proactively building positive relationships with our labour affiliates, local professional and community associations, Board personnel, and elected Trustees is fundamental to creating satisfactory resolutions. As unionists, we must remember that we do not need to go it alone. Collaboration and leveraging of relationships will always be crucial to success.

Events concerning classroom closures in Peel District School Board
June 2016
Ø Early in June 2016, the Peel District School Boards began to conduct “Space Audits” to identify classrooms that can be closed for the upcoming 2017/2018 school year.

Ø Educators and PDSB staff begin to learn of this process through experiencing the “Space Audit” process and through second-hand information received by colleagues. Concerns begin to arise.
Ø June 29, 2016 – PETL released a Memo through the Local’s Member Secure site to PETL members clarifying the classroom closure process as well as PETL’s view and response to the process. PETL opposed the closure of classroom spaces based on the fundamental beliefs outlined within ETFO’s Building Better Schools campaign (http://www.buildingbetterschools.ca/). Members were informed that classroom closures were originally planned to occur at the end of the 2015/2016 school year. However, do to the strong opposition to classroom closures expressed by both PETL as well as other stakeholders the classroom closure deadline would be extended to September 2016 Reorganization.
August 2016
Ø August 31, 2016 – The Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local Executive meeting included an update to the Executive regarding the PDSB’s plan for September classroom closures. All empty classrooms, Vocal Music classrooms and French classrooms were to be closed. French and Vocal Music teachers would be expected to provide their programs from carts. Before/After school care programs would also be affected. Empty spaces (e.g. classrooms, stage, etc.) would no longer be held open as designated spaces for these programs. They would have to be moved into classrooms already in use by a class. At this time, the Executive was informed that the classroom closures could not be grieved. It was also noted that the Peel District School Board was in fact one of the last school boards in the province to begin the process of closing classrooms. Given this information, the Executive agreed that PETL’s response would have to be more political in nature. The PETL Executive also acknowledge to importance of engaging stakeholders outside of our own membership.
Ø August 31, 2016 – Regular Meeting of the Board http://www.peelschools.org/trustees/boardagendas/minutes/Documents/August%2031%202016%20Regular%20Meeting%20of%20the%20Board.pdf )
PETL President Steve Dénommée addressed the School Board Trustees at a Regular Meeting of the Board during the Public Question Period.
Sept. 2016
Ø September 8th, 2016 – Open Letter to PETL members from Steve Dénommée, PETL President (via PETL website) http://www.etfopeel.com/EN/news/Open_letter_to_PETL_Members_re_Classroom_Closures.cf
PETL posted a statement to PETL members through an open letter. The letter outlined the timeline of its response to the classroom closure issue as well as its plan for further action.
Ø September 9th, 2016 – Advise to members through posted of ETFO “Shared Spaces” PRS Bulletin (via Member Secure site)
As tensions and stress heightens in school facing classroom closures, PETL reminded members of their professional responsibilities as educators and encouraged members to speak with the Local if they have any concerns.
Ø Regular Meeting of the Board -September 13 , 2016
A “Sing-in” protest was held by the Junior Elementary Music Makers Association of Peel. Barbara Cogan, Chair of JEMMS addressed the Board of Trustees.
Ø September 13, 2016 – News Article: Mississauga News
The Mississauga News covered the classroom closure story. They contacted, Steve Dénommée, President of the Peel Elementary Teachers Local (PETL) and included the PETL’s perspective in the article.
Ø September 13, 2016 – News Article: CBCNews
The CBC covered the classroom closure story. They contacted, Steve Dénommée, President of the Peel Elementary Teachers Local (PETL) and included the PETL’s perspective in the article.
Ø September 14th, 2016 – News Article: Mississauga News
This article covered the “Sing-In” protest. It includes photos and a video of the event.
Ø September 16, 2016 – CUPE 2544 News Release
CUPE 2544 express concerns about the potential of over 1000 classroom closures.
Ø September 19, 2016 – CUPE 2544 News Release
CUPE 2544 express concerns about the potential of over 1000 classroom closures.
The article indicates that classroom closures are required to do a funding shortfall. “The funding formula does not account for differences in schools based on a building’s age, the community programs it provides, or even provincially mandated programs such as small class sizes and full-day kindergarten.”
Ø September 21, 2016 – Extraordinarily Meeting of the Board
The Trustees vote to put a pause on the closing of some classrooms in the Board.
Ø September 21, 2016 – PDSB News Release
The Peel District School Board posted a News Release regarding the temporary pause on classroom closures.
Ø September 27, 2016 - Regular Meeting of the Board
The Trustees respond to the concerns of Music Educators, reporting the decision voted on and carried at the September 21, 2016 meeting. The Trustee received a document outlining the impact of classroom closures on music programs from Barbara Cogan, Junior Elementary Music Makers Association of Peel.
Ø September 29, 2016 – CUPE 2544 News Release
The article calls out the Board of Trustees for holding a public meeting without notice.
Ø October 7th, 2016 - PETL Letter to Members (via Members Secure site)
The letter to PETL members outlines the Board’s decision to ‘pause’ classroom closures as well as the conditions that must be met in order for classrooms to remain open.
PETL indicated in this letter, as did CUPE 2544 in their September 29, 2016 news release, that PETL involvement in the September 21st, 2017 public Board meeting was not possible due to lack of notice from the Board.
Follow up
Ø February 17, 2017 – CUPE 2544 News Release
This post notes that $1 million in savings will be used to keep classrooms open. It suggests 266 classrooms will remain open due to this decision.
Ø February 20, 2017 – News Article insuaga.com (local online news media)
This post notes that $1 million in savings will be used to keep classrooms open.

PETL & the Staff Transfer and Surplus Procedure (G32)

In the Peel District School Board, teachers follow a process for transfer and surplus that is outlined in the G32 "Staff Transfer and Surplus Process Procedures" document. This document outlines the dates and process for all transfer and surplus matters that happen for all teachers applying for positions or being surplused. For 27 years, PETL members had the right to a guaranteed interview if they applied for an open position anywhere in the board. By making a simple phone call, members were guaranteed an interview. OSSTF D19 followed this same process, but submitted with the board's request to remove this right, and go with a process that included the submission of an artifact, an application package and the principal selecting three applicants to interview.

When the board brought this suggested change to PETL, we denied that request to alter the process, as it did not reflect the desires of our members. Although interviews were not outlined in our Collective Agreement, the G32 process was clearly referenced. PETL argued that those interviews were a part of the G32 process. This was fought for several years, until the board, just before negotiations, formally served notice to PETL that they would not continue this practice, and under labour law, this giving of notice was required to change a practice in the Collective Agreement.

PETL felt that although the board could do this, it was a sign of disrespect for them to make this change. The local began to mobilize members to demonstrate their feelings about this decision. The local created "respect" buttons for members to wear. The members were unified and they demanded that they be respected and that the board not change articles within our Collective Agreement any time they saw fit. In the end, the board did not make the suggested changes to the transfer and surplus procedure as outlined in the G32. It would be six years later that a new process that did not guarantee an interview to all members who requested it, was implemented. When the change was made, it was done with adequate time for PETL to inform and advise its members of the change, and help them to prepare for the new process prior to its implementation. In 2012 changes were made to the G32. Members are now required to submit an application package to principals when interested in a posted job. Principals select and interview five teachers from the packages they receive. The Local and the board review the process and respectful discussions are had often throughout the transfer and surplus period, to ensure mutual understanding.The mobilizing of the members is what led to this Local victory.



Article 13 of the collective agreement between the Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local and the Peel District School Board outlines the scope and mandate of an In-School Staffing Advisory Committee (ISSAC) to be struck at the beginning of each school year at each worksite across the Board.
The language in the collective agreement lays out the composition of the committee (Principal, Workplace Steward, and enough other teaching staff members to adequately represent the staff as a whole), the selection of committee members (aside from the Principal and Workplace Steward, other teaching staff representatives would technically be elected), and the overall scope and mandate of the committee. The mandate of the ISSAC includes:
  • advising the Principal on determining the utilization of teaching staff in the school;
  • determining the equitable distribution of instructional, planning, and supervision time;
  • monitoring the level of integration of exceptional students into regular classroom programs;
  • considering school organization proposals and/or suggestions submitted by staff members to the committee;
  • receiving class size data and recommended class size ranges from the Board’s Elementary Joint Staffing Committee;
  • reviewing the application of the Board’s G32 Transfer and Surplus Process (see previous PETL Wiki posting); and
  • advising the Principal on any other issues relevant to staffing and school organization.

The ISSAC’s Terms of Reference, although contained in the collective agreement, are included as an Appendix rather than as actual collective agreement language.
The collective agreement also recognizes that school administrators have duties and responsibilities to staff and organize the school as outlined under the Education Act and other relevant regulations. Notwithstanding this, in the event that the teacher representatives on the ISSAC disagree with a decision made by the Principal, they have the option of making an appeal to the Superintendent of Education whose decision shall be final.

I would consider the existence of our In-School Staffing Advisory Committees to be a local success story. Recognizing that similar language may not be present in the collective agreements of other locals, I have included some amplifying information on the context surrounding the origins of this particular collective agreement language, its value for members in schools, and possible improvements that could be made to this article of the collective agreement in future bargaining rounds.
What follows is a summary of a short interview conducted with one of our Local's past Collective Bargaining Chairs. It gives context and additional explanation as to the creation of the ISSACs and their continued relevance to members today.
What is the history of the ISSACs in Peel? When were they first negotiated? When did this language first appear in a Local CA?
  • Prior to the creation of ETFO, there was language stipulating the existence of an Elementary Joint Staffing Committee in the collective agreement. This committee was made up of Board and Local representatives and dealt with Board-level staffing issues. This committee still exists to this day and continues to have the same mandate.
  • As ETFO evolved and as the Peel District School Board grew, the Local realized that there would be a place and need for staffing committees to be present in each school. The rapid expansion of the school board at that time meant that from year to year, some schools could experience high staff turnover, restructuring, and reorganization in late September after registration numbers had been finalized. Having an advisory committee present and operating at each worksite would give the teaching staff in the building a voice as to the organization of the school.
  • The ISSACs first appeared in their current form in the 2004-2008 collective agreement. The major pieces of the collective agreement language at that time included the Terms of Reference and the ability for the committee to advise the Administrator on the equitable distribution of instructional and supervision time and the integration of exceptional pupils into classroom programs.
  • The Terms of Reference for the ISSACs, spelled out in an appendix to the collective agreement, include a requirement for school administrators to share the information received by the administrator from the Board pertaining to staffing and organization with the ISSAC. This is a critical requirement since, prior to its inclusion in the appendix, administrators were able to explain away their decisions regarding staffing and organization by claiming that they were based on the number received from the Board, without actually having to share those numbers with the committee. From an openness and transparency standpoint, this would have been highly problematic and frustrating for the staff in the building. The requirement on the part of the administrator to share this information with the committee now gave the ISSAC the ability to suggest alternate school organizations that the administrator would at least have to consider. Finally, the information sharing requirement also made it far more difficult for administrators to reward certain teachers with things like additional planning time blocks if they knew that the committee would have access to all the numbers provided by the Board.
  • The 2008-2012 round of bargaining resulted in even more language being added to Article 13.
  • In this most recent round (2014-2017), the Local was able to negotiate the addition of language that allows the ISSAC to advise the administrator on any issues that the committee considers relevant to staffing and school organization.

What was the context for the negotiation of ISSAC language? Did it come about as a recommendation from members in worksites, or from the Local collective bargaining committee?
  • The genesis of the ISSAC collective agreement language can likely be attributed to both. Members in schools would have begun to feel the pressures of an ever-expanding Board and the need for teaching staff to have a voice when it came to their school’s organization. The Local, after receiving feedback and concerns from members in worksites, would have worked with the Local collective bargaining committee to strategize around the negotiation of this item.

Prior to its formal inclusion in the collective agreement, was there an informal school-level structure that operated successfully like an ISSAC in a few schools that the Local then sought to formalize Board-wide through collective agreement language?
  • This is not necessarily the case. In the past, when school administrators were members of the union, discussions around staffing and school organization were likely a lot more open and inclusive of workers’ voices and suggestions. When they were removed from the union, it was then necessary to formalize these structures going forward.
  • In addition, the rapid growth and expansion of the Board from 1999 to 2005 required a structure like that of the ISSACs to be much more formalized.

What do members gain through the existence of an ISSAC in their worksite?
  • At a fundamental level, members gain a vehicle and a venue for voicing their opinions regarding the staffing and organization of the school. Even though the ISSAC’s role is limited to “advising” the administrator on these issues, the mere existence of the committee requires the administrator to sit down at various points throughout the school year with staff representatives to discuss issues of importance to the membership and to consider their proposals.
  • The ISSAC provides an avenue for staff to propose changes that would be positive for both staff and students.
  • In addition, the collective agreement provides some avenue for recourse (i.e. appealing to the Superintendent) in the event that the staff representatives disagree with a decision made by the administrator.

Going forward, how could the ISSAC language in the Local collective agreement be further strengthened to benefit members? Are there specific areas of school operations that could be brought under the purview of the ISSAC?
  • One such improvement could be the inclusion of the Terms of Reference, currently included as an appendix to the collective agreement, into the actual body text of the agreement. Like Letters of Agreement or Understanding, appendices can be more easily excluded from one agreement to the next since they aren’t officially considered collective agreement language.
  • In addition, stronger language around the clustering of ELLs and students receiving special education support would be very welcome by members in schools.
  • Finally, it might be possible in future rounds to modify the mandate of the ISSAC going forward so that its focus becomes not just staffing issues, but other things like budget allocation and any number of other school-level decisions.

Rainbow DECE Local

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Rainbow District Occasional Teacher Local


The introduction of Regulation 274 came on the heels of the incredible mistrust our members were feeling after Bill 115. There was a fear of the unknown in an already contentious environment. The Legislation intended to bring in more transparent hiring practices, but left many questions for our members. In Sudbury, the Rainbow District School Board forged ahead to get the new hiring process completed, but this left us with nobody to compare the process to and create a very steep learning curve for the Board and our union.

Problems We Encountered:
  • The introduction of the Legislation caused a great deal of stress and frustration for many of our members who had already successfully interviewed for our Board’s “short list.” Many members had been on this short list for many years and had not been through such a vigorous interview process since. This new LTO List would be similar to the short list, with the exception of LTO assignment access. The people from the short list felt that they should have been grandfathered onto the LTO list, and we learned later that this has happened with some school boards, in particular the Catholic board in our area. Unfortunately, we learned this information too late to do anything about it, such as file a grievance.
  • There was a great deal of confusion around the process for getting an LTO, with seniority and interviews. At one of our general meetings, we spent a great deal of time on questions around this process. Once members had their questions answered, they seemed pleased that seniority will play a role in their hiring process, instead of being chosen for other reasons.
  • When it comes to the rights of an unsuccessful candidate getting feedback on the interview, we ran into a couple hiccups. The Board office tried to set a time limit on requests for feedback after interviews in 2013. They also will only provide feedback on the interview portion of the process, not the written, reference or resume portion, as the Legislation only references the interview.

What We Did For Our Members:
  • One of general meetings focused mostly on the new Regulation 274 Legislation, allowing members the chance to ask many questions they had around the process the Board was putting into place for new hiring practices. Members walked away, anxiously optimistic that this new process would make hiring practices more transparent – something we have wanted for a long time.
  • Our President kept a close eye on the posting procedures to ensure the Board followed the Legislation. There were a few hiccups, as it was a learning process for both sides.
  • We encouraged our members to apply for any postings they were interested in, whether they were on the LTO list or not. We continually reminded them that you never know who else has applied and whether or not the LTO List has already been exhausted!
  • When it comes to the problems we encountered around interview feedback, our President was able to successfully argue for all members to receive feedback the first year, regardless of when the member made the request. There was no timeline imposed by the Legislation, so the Board was in no position to impose an arbitrary time limit. In terms of what kinds of feedback our members receive, we continually remind the Board that an unsuccessful candidate needs honest feedback that will improve their chances of being successful in their interview. In some ways, it is better to “be cruel to be kind.”
  • The biggest thing we have done for our members, in an attempt to be proactive and helpful to our membership, was offer an LTO Interview workshop to help participants prepare for the intensive interview process. We have limited registration to those who are eligible for the LTO List interviews and plan the workshop shortly before the interviews happen. We have done this since 2013, with each session being a little bit different. We have done a full day on the weekend and an after-school weekday workshop. We have always received positive feedback from participants. We have learned one thing from a member this year: those who are not eligible for the LTO List are still interested in attending the workshop, to help them interview for open LTO positions when the List has been exhausted; this is something we will do next year.

Rainbow District Teacher Local

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The Case of the Missed Prep and the Importance of Collective Agreement Language

This article relates to the scheduling, rescheduling, and times of missed prep for all teachers of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), but specifically for those of the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB).

There are three sections of the RDSB collective agreement that came into dispute in 2009 with regards to how prep time is to be scheduled and repaid when it is missed. Article 16, Section 6, Part b states that a teacher’s schedule must include (at the time) 210 minutes of prep during a 5-day cycle; part d states that prep is to be used for professional activities determined by the teacher; and part f states that missed prep time because the teacher had to fill in for another teacher must be repaid within 10 days.

In 2009, the board interpreted these sections to mean that prep could be cancelled in cases where teachers were required to participate in board mandated professional development during the instructional day, and that that prep did not have to be repaid.

The board’s argument was that part f meant that the only time that prep had to be repaid was when a teacher filled in for another teacher to give instruction when that teacher was away, i.e, called in sick and a replacement could not be found. They said that professional learning time is not providing instruction (for an absent teacher) so that part f, paying back prep, did not apply.

The issue eventually went to arbitration, where the arbitrator ruled in favour of the federation. There were a number of reasons for her decision. What I found most fascinating was the importance of knowing the collective agreement, past practice, wording of the collective agreement, in particular how a single word can be so important, and the importance of keeping all paperwork, especially discussion notes and memos.

First, none of this would have happened if a few brave teachers hadn’t questioned what the principal was doing in regards to cancelling prep time in favour of board mandated professional learning. These teachers knew their collective agreement and were willing to contact the local office to report the breach of the CA. The local leadership also knew the language of the CA and were willing to take the board to task even though the board had ample evidence to refute the local leadership’s interpretation of the CA wording. (And we had a very good and extremely
intelligent ETFO staff officer.)

Second, knowing and understanding the importance of past practices was also central to winning this grievance. In this case, the past practice was that prep was repaid in the cases of missed prep due to board mandated professional learning. The board argued that since the signing the (at the time) current CA, the past practice was estopped, meaning it no longer was in force. The arbitrator disagreed mostly based on a memo sent out by the board.

Third, there was the memo. The memo set out the expectation that the principal was to follow in respect to lost prep time due to board mandated professional learning. This memo was a key piece of evidence for the local. The local president had kept the copy send to the local by the board. This is why keeping all paperwork in an organized file system is so important.

Fourth, during the provincial discussion table (PDT) process it was agreed to that prep will only be repaid when a teacher must fill in for another teacher when providing instruction for the absent teacher. Because the PDT wasn’t to replace superior language of any local collective agreement (CA), the word “only” was dropped from Rainbow local’s CA. This meant that prep was to be replaced for an absent teacher for instruction time but didn’t preclude any other reason such as professional learning. Never underestimate the power of a single word.

For these reasons the arbitrator agreed with the the federation and ruled in favour of the local. Now, during board mandated professional learning days, all teachers receive prep in two blocks: 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon (½ day sessions and intermediate teachers have a slightly different but guaranteed prep calculation). This prep must be scheduled into the agenda for the day.

Trying to keep the Farming on the Farm

Since our 2000 collective agreement, the Rainbow Teacher’s local has tried to keep the issue of ‘farming out’ on the table. What is “farming out”? Essentially, “farming out” is the redistribution of students to other classrooms when no OT is called or available. Getting language into the collective agreement was to quote our Local President “ the mountain I was prepared to die on”

Typically, at the beginning of every school year, teachers in our Local were told that only 3 days per person is allocated per school to cover the cost of OTs due to illness, personal days, bereavement, and other benefits that are part of our collective agreement. The Rainbow Local is not big with approx 630 members 2016 and as a result some small schools have a staff of 12 people which means the school is only funded for 36 days of OT coverage during the school year and the rest of the days will come out of school budget.

As one can imagine, and depending on the year, these days were used well before the end of June. In some cases, shortly after the new year, teachers were told that there was no more funds to provide OT coverage and classes would be ‘farmed out’ for sick, personal and bereavement days. When the funded days have been used, many administrators would redistribute the students to other classrooms and teachers would prepare work packages. Work packages are basically a staple booklet of busy work. At any given time, teachers could have up to 6 or more students from other classrooms in their class for a day or in some cases even longer. This has caused quite a bit emotional stress to many of our members. Members have been told at staff meetings that technology was being purchased over providing OT coverage or members felt awful having the burden of “farming out” their students for personal days and bereavement days. This was a subversive measure to keep teachers in their classrooms and the guilt associated with putting 5 extra students in already full classroom was often too much for many members. In 2009/2010 the results of a membership survey were brought to the attention of the labour relations committee. The issue of farming out was featured prominently and the committee seemed concerned yet the Board did nothing to make changes. The act of farming out had a negative impact on staff morale in many schools.

At each round of local bargaining since 2000, the local would try and address the issue of “farming” out to no success. The term farming was not liked by the board and there were many attempts to change the term. The term came from the children and many teachers alike. During the 2009 school year, the term adventure day was used as “farming out” was deemed derogatory and negative. Today the term is widely used and by teachers in the Rainbow Local and is well understood by staff, parents and administrators.

During our last round of local bargaining, farming out was once again on the table and to quote our Local President “morals won over the cost savings”. It took many conversations and nearly 15 years to get language into our collective agreement about the use of “farming out” Now we have language and an understanding that OT coverage will be provided

Our new clause

16.09 Replacement of a Classroom Teacher
The school principal will make every effort to replace a classroom teacher who is absent due to sick leave, personal leave, bereavement leave or board-mandated professional development/learning with an occasional teacher.

The problem and issue of “farming out” has not disappeared from the classrooms of the Rainbow local. Despite this language, “Farming out” continues to be an issue today because there appears to be a shortage of OT and the parameters around when a teacher can call in sick making it difficult for our non-automated system to find an OT. Many teachers have to call their VP after 6:30 am and before 6:45. Some schools have a different timeframe, but in many cases it is still restrictive. Once the VP is called, they typically call central supply who makes calls. There is also a list that a VP can use to call individual OTs but for sick calls, central supply is often the route used. Since the end of February, many classes have once again been ‘farmed’ out because no OT appears to be available. The issue of Farming out at the Rainbow local is not solved are gone from the discussion, but at least there is language in our Collective Agreement that we can hope to improve upon.

Rainbow’s Dress Code Grievance - Wear Your ETFO Shirts with Pride!

Initial policy of board:

The board had a Staff Dress code that was distributed to all employees of the board upon hiring. Its premise was that staff should act as role models for students through appropriate staff dress. It outlined a variety of items related to its ‘business casual’ model. For example, grooming must be professional and reflect the position held in the organization, and dress must avoid offensive language, promotion of alcohol, drugs, violence….or advocacy of any political or union group. It also indicated that on casual Fridays, dress must be neat and clean and the employees must pay to a charity in order to not wear their business casual attire.

Problems that arose:

Principals told members that they couldn’t wear anything with a union logo. One principal told a member that she should wear skirts because she was a woman. Another principal insisted that pants should not have “patch pockets” (i.e., pockets sewn onto the outside of the seat of your pants).

Teachers indicated that when they were sitting on the floor to work with students, doing art, or going on field trips, the business casual that the board was looking for (i.e., ties, dress pants and/or high heels) wasn’t appropriate. They also thought that they should be allowed to wear their ETFO t-shirts and buttons as they were not defaming the board in any way. None of the other unions objected to the dress code.

The grievance:

The grievance was filed Nov 23, 2005. Victoria Rhéaume represented us. Loretta Mikus was the sole arbitrator. During this process, updates were provided to members at general/steward/executive meetings.


One principal testified that teachers dress quite casually, wearing jogging pants, camouflage gear, flip flops, jeans and ball caps. The principal indicated that the school was disorderly and had no cultural professionalism. The principal indicated that it goes to speaking about how students behave and how they treat staff.
Six principals testified as well as the director of education, with the general message that the dress code is needed to project an image for the school.

Release time was provided so that members could testify, and it was paid by union. Six teachers testified.

Of the teachers who testified, one member testified that her school was not air conditioned and she should be able to choose her own footwear accordingly. She indicated that her principal had said that she could not wear jeans, including black jeans. She elaborated about her warm but not fashionable winter coat that she wore for outside supervision with an orange vest over it. She indicated that she wanted to be able to wear washable, comfortable, durable clothing, with a pocket for the FM system. She also said that dressing fancier would intimidate parents as she worked in an inner city school.


The grievance was settled almost six years later on June 2, 2011. It was delayed several times to hear other similar cases that might affect our outcome. For example, Hamilton-Wentworth had a grievance heard before ours that was related to wearing union buttons.
The arbitrator ruled in our favour and the board’s policy was to be taken down. Everything is recorded in a 45 page document. The arbitrator indicated that the employer’s policy cannot contravene the Charter or other legislation, nor can it interfere with the formation or support of a trade union.

So, it’s gone? Not quite…

After the grievance was settled, an Executive member noticed that in his partner’s NTIP document, there was a reference to the dress code. The Local President contacted Human Resources and said that since we’d been awarded, it could not remain in the hiring package. HR said it would be removed, but then there was a change in HR manager and it was included again! One Superintendent still thinks it should be there, in spite of our win.

Rainy River Educational Support Personnel

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Rainy River Occasional Teacher Local

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Rainy River District Teacher Local

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Renfrew County Education Support Personnel

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Renfrew County Occasional Teacher Local

Renfrew County Occasional Teachers’ Local

Communication and collaboration are essential skills in creating a productive learning community in our classrooms and with our families. The sense of unity is developed over time with all members of a single group or multiple groups based on respect, responsibility and problem solving. Renfrew County District School Board is made up of 4 different locals; Renfrew County Teachers’ Local, Renfrew County Occasional Teachers’ Local, Renfrew County ESP Local and the Renfrew County PSP Local. Province wide we are known for the positive relationship that we have established between the locals within our Board.

A key aspect of that relationship is our ability to communicate with each other. Regular check ins and discussions are vital to working collaboratively between Locals. Affiliates meetings are held 5 times throughout the year and more if required. These meetings include OSSTF as well who include the Early Childhood Educators in our board. Over the last several years our local has supported and been supported by other locals in our Board. Most recently I remember wearing a pin to support our ESP local while they were threatening to strike a few years back.

Our victory is ongoing in that we are continually working together to support one another no matter the struggle. We recently finished a round of bargaining and it is the commitment to communication that strengthen our relationship and prove a united front to our board as we begin to prepare for another collective bargaining round.

Renfrew County Professional Support Personnel

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Renfrew County Teacher Local

Seniority Based Transfers:

Collective Bargaining Win for Renfrew County Teachers’ Local!Description of the Issue:
We are a large county in the North-Eastern region of Ontario. “Our district is bounded by the Ottawa River on the East and Algonquin Park on the West. Our southern most school is in Arnprior and our norther-most school is Deep River” (www.rcdsb.on.ca).

In knowing how geographically vast our district is, you can imagine that many teachers would be very excited to be granted transfers at some point in their careers. With only 23 elementary schools, jobs near the “larger centres” are very desired.

There was previously nothing in our collective agreements that would oversee that transfers were transparent, equitable and open to all members. The Superintendents, and Principals would get to choose who received a transfer based on their preferences. They had communicated with our local that they wanted to keep those spots open for new teachers. That meant that there was very little movement of teachers in our board. Also, teachers would be denied transfers even if there were vacancies available. Many senior teachers were upset that brand new members were getting placements in areas of the county that they had hoped to transfer to. It was apparent that some members were being granted transfers without being “new members”. Members were unable to grieve the decisions made to allow some members transfers, and others not as there was no language in our collective agreement to speak out against, nothing with in “violation” as the language was that the superintendent could grant transfers at their discretion after all surplus members were placed.

What the Local Did to Pursue a Resolution:

Our local executive listened to the voices of members and heard that members would like some sort of system in place so that the decisions could be considered more “fair for all”. Members should be able to see the possibilities for their future when vacancies present themselves during the Surplus and Redundancy proceedings in the spring. The executive felt that this was an issue to bring up with collective bargaining as it could help members to feel a sense of fairness in the transfer application process. This is certainly a bargaining chip with the RCDSB as it does not cost them anything to set in place, and it gives members a sense of control over their work environment.

After lengthly negotiations with the board, RCTL won the ability to write the language in our local collective agreements that teachers may apply for transfers, and will be placed by seniority and qualifications during the Surplus and Redundancy Placements in the spring.

Impact on Membership:

This win has allowed for our members to feel a sense of ownership in the placements that happen during the Surplus and Redundancy placements. Members have a clear picture of the positions that are opened and available to them, and can now trust a process protected by our collective agreement. We can now grieve decisions that are made without following our collective agreement. This is a win that has allowed for members to feel united in that when we join our voices, we are “stronger together”.

The Pee Break aka Mind Over Bladder
In 2007-2008, teachers’ time, energies and sometimes good will was spread about as thinly as it is today. There were
many members in our board who were expecting babies or working in portables, who were struggling, apologizing
and making special requests of their principals to meet their own basic needs during the work day. Like teachers
across Ontario, they would transition from a class directly to supervision duties and then immediately back to class
again with nary a moment to get to the washroom should the need arise.

Now, considering the amount of coffee many of us slog back every day, waiting to get to the bathroom is no small issue. Along with
other working groups such as nurses and truck drivers, teachers often end up with enlarged bladders. Since consuming any amount
of water might mean needing to use the facilities before a scheduled break, teachers tend to avoid drinking water and consequently
are prone to a higher than average number of urinary tract infections.


Our CB representative at the time was David Kendall. He worked tirelessly on behalf of ETFO members and pressed the School Board
to recognize that among the multitude of expectations this employer had placed on their teachers, there was a need to address one in
particular within the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


I admit remembering little else of this particular round of negotiations. I do, however, remember Dave Kendall announcing to a full
hall of members, “Renfrew teachers, you are the first in the province to get The Pee Break!” Sometimes it’s the little victories that serve
to lift morale and improve the quality of our working life. Clause 21.15 of our 2008-2012 collective agreement does just that. So here it is,
our pride and joy:

21.15 The Board shall advise Principals to make provision for a washroom break for a teacher when no recess break is provided or when a teacher is assigned supervision during a recess break.


No more waiting, no more apologizing. The Pee Break. A small but important quality of life victory. If your local has one, gratitude may be expressed to the teachers of Renfrew County who did not sit down until achieving the Pee Break as part of their collective agreement. Care for yourself, to maintain your ability to care for others.


The Battle for Bi-Weekly Pay
What’s The Issue?
In the Renfrew County District School Board, teachers are paid monthly. This has been standard practice since the early 1990s. A pay schedule is released at the beginning of each school year dictating when members will be paid. Over the years, members have made it clear that they are unhappy with this arrangement and have requested that we move to bi-weekly pay. Members requested this to alleviate the financial stress that being paid monthly puts on them. Based on the requests of our members, the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local tried to negotiate for bi-weekly pay for its members in the 2004 - 2008, 2008 - 2012 and 2012 - 2014 bargaining years, but were unsuccessful.

What Was Done?
In the 2014-2017 round of bargaining, members of the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local voted that changing to bi-weekly pay was a priority for our members. Our preliminary submission was held for the local and voted in by 98% of members in attendance on June 2nd, 2014 at the Cobden Agricultural Hall . It was one of the many issues that our local collective bargaining team negotiated for. Negotiations would begin once the Central Table Items were completed in Toronto. Job action began, protests took place and increased in seriousness until an agreement was reached.

Did The Actions Taken Help The Issue?
An agreement was reached at the Central Table between ETFO, OPSBA and the government on November 2nd, 2015. Telephone town halls were held, the tentative agreement was shared, and online voting took place between November 8th and 12th, 2015. The tentative agreement was approved by members, however until a tentative agreement was reached at the Local level, we continued to work without a new collective agreement. Once Central Table Items were negotiated at the provincial level, local bargaining could begin.
Local bargaining between the Renfrew County District School Board and the Renfrew County Teacher’s Local began on April 1st, 2015. A tentative agreement was reached between the Board and the Local on February 8th, 2016. On February 18th, 2016, the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local held a ratification meeting to vote on the tentative agreement between the Renfrew County District School Board and the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local. Members in attendance voted overwhelmingly to support the
tentative agreement. The Board trustees voted on the agreement on March 8th, 2016. We now have a collective agreement in place that includes bi-weekly pay for our members! On November 25th, 2016, after 5 revisions and many meetings, members of the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local received a completed copy of our new Collective Agreement.

Was There A Lasting Impact?
According to the new Collective Agreement between the Renfrew County Teachers’ Local and the Renfrew County District School Board, bi-weekly pay will begin for members effective September 2017. When this information was released to members at the ratification vote meeting, on February 18th, 2016, members in attendance cheered! Members are looking forward to this change in their pay schedule.
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Overshadowed by Worry

What’s the Issue?

Within our local of Renfrew County, in Eastern Ontario, we have military base CFB Petawawa . Prior to 2005, public school teachers had been voicing their issues of stress to the local ETFO president. They felt inadequately prepared to address their students’ behaviours that were rooted in anger and anxiety over a parent in the military who was overseas on a tour of duty.

In addition, at the time this issue arose in Renfrew County, of the 440 teachers who worked for the Renfrew County District School Board, 45 had spouses in the military. Not only did they deal with the emotional drain at work but they too, like their students brought anxiety with them to school, work and everywhere they went. These educators were frustrated by the strain of running the household and/or raising the children, while their spouse was in Afghanistan. Their lives were overshadowed by worry and concern for their loved ones. These emotions were further aggravated when requests to spend time with a spouse who was home on leave or permission to attend memorial services for fallen military personnel was denied. The issue in Renfrew County was the impact of war on teachers who worked on a military base and/or had a spouse in the military. Another issue was that those in the world outside of the base couldn’t relate to the reality that, this war setting, placed on base Petawawa teachers each day.


Source: Link

What was done?

The Renfrew County Teachers’ Local took on four initiatives to bring these issues to the attention of others both provincially and locally.

The first was Project Petawawa. ETFO provincial president (at the time) Emily Noble, provincial executive members, local leaders, representatives from other teacher unions (OSST and OECTA) were invited to CFB Petawawa to learn more about the base, its mission, and supports it provides to its soldiers and their families.

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The next initiative was to increase teacher knowledge and participation in the Wear Red campaign that already existed in the area. In Wear Red, the public is encouraged to wear red on Friday to show their support for our troops

Another act of support was to educate local educators in order to develop an awareness and hopefully a better understanding for those who are friends and/or colleagues with a teacher who works at a school in Petawawa and may also have a spouse stationed in Afghanistan. The feelings students have in the weeks and days before a parent is deployed; the anger and change in routine during a parent’s leave or return home; the anger over missed birthdays and Christmases; and finally the constant worry of “what if” something happens to mom/dad. In addition to these emotions, any teacher whose spouse is in the military deals with the public who refuse to support the troops by not wearing red on Friday. Both children and adults in this military environment are affected.

The final piece of supporting the teachers in Petawawa was to add wording to the collective agreement in order to support the teachers who had spouses in the military. The purpose was to permit the teachers a leave of absence to be with his/her spouse for reasons pertaining to deployment, leave and return from a tour of duty.

Did the actions taken help the issue?

A professional development session was created and delivered to public elementary teachers in Renfrew County as an after school meeting. The issues mentioned above for both children and spouses were shared. Then the difficulties for a teacher teaching in this military environment were added to the discussion. Those in attendance had a greater appreciation of the struggles that were unique to Petawawa teachers. One example shared was when there is a death of a soldier reported and his/her child(ren) are called to the principal’s office to be told. There is a hush on the school as everyone awaits the reason the children are called down. Due to the unique situation of military life, this happens only in Petawawa. This was their reality.

In August 2007, there was an article in ETFO’s Voice magazine on this unique situation in the small city and army base in Petawawa, ON. This coverage not only spread awareness of this particular kind of teacher stress but provincially and no doubt, internationally as well.

Another great accomplishment that a clause was added to Renfrew County Elementary Teachers’ 2008 – 2012 Collective Agreement -

9.02 Absence with Pay

(f) A teacher who is the spouse of a member of the military shall be granted paid leave of up to three (3) days with deduction from the teacher’s sick leave account for the purpose of attending to matters associated with a military deployment (for a minimum of six [6] months) where the spouse is deployed to an active war zone.

Was there a lasting impact?

The work of the Renfrew local has had a lasting effect for its members by increasing general membership knowledge of the reality which can be a stressful working situation for teachers on a military base. In addition, teachers with spouses in the military are making requests for a leave of absence with pay under the terms of regulation 9.02 (f) and having them granted. One step forward in supporting our troops and their family on any day of the week, not just Fridays.

Simcoe County DECE Local

In the fall of 2010 the province of Ontario launched the Early Learning Kindergarten (ELK). The Simcoe County District School Board hired 33 Early Childhood Educators in that first year. Early Childhood Educators were pleased to be putting their theory and practical training to use in the formal school setting in an equal partnership with our RCT counterpart!
Our ECE group met with ETFO provincial and other unions already in place for other collective bargaining units within our school board. The vote was almost unanimous with 99% voting in favour of being represented, like our teaching partners, by ETFO.

The next year would be a whirlwind with the election of our President and Executive as well as the Collective Bargaining Committee that would negotiate our first contract with the board. After almost two years, with back and forth negotiations with the board and CBC members, we secured our first (and ETFO’s with a DECE local) collective agreement retroactive to the very first year of inception of the ELK!

Since developing our local executive committee we have been able to implement Professional Learning to our DECE members. Now into our fourth year and with help from great Professional Learning Workshops thru ETFO we have reached members with engaging and specific PD to ELK! It has been a struggle for our local to entertain exciting ideas that both engage and give members something to walk away with. Thru survey's, networking and conversations, we have booked PD that our members want! This past year we have been able to offer workshops from the Early Years Specialist in Simcoe County. We have had "Alphabet Play...Making Letters Meaningful", "Phonological Awareness", "Early Literacy" and "Getting Literacy Into Play". We have also been fortunate to book and host "KRe8" a workshop to help educators develop new and exciting art centres that promote literacy. The Professional Learning Committee currently consists of our Vice-President and Member at Large. We will be inviting three more members to join this committee at our AGM. The feedback we have received has been generally positive. We are working on having workshops specific and to the point to ensure members take away new ideas and aren't spending a long night out. We are looking forward to hosting many more workshops, including networking nights, yoga/dance class and more workshops to support our members in the ELK program.
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Continuing the Learning Journey:
As our Simcoe County DECE local continues to rise in members, the local continues to support its members both inside and outside of the classroom. The 2014-2015 school year brought about many exciting changes for our local. Our local dove into social media, with creating a Facebook Page. An easier way to reach members and keep everyone informed. We also saw the creation of local School Stewards. This was an exciting evening. Members who were once not involved with the local, were signing up to become a school steward. Stewards were provided with an evening training session and a personalized email address was provided for each school in our county. We were seeing interest and involvement with the local expanding. Members were also taking part in professional learning offered outside of our local. Members were involved in workshops such as Visions, And Still We Rise, Collective Bargaining Conference and PRS Training. Our local also revamped the local website in 2015, adding short biographies of our local executive, a resource tab, an events tab and a photo gallery displaying footage of professional learning. The 2014-2015 school year also brought the introduction of a Fall Annual General Meeting too! The 2015-2016 school year was much anticipated. With Stewards now in place and a Fall AGM to look forward to, the local executive immediately began getting to work on providing the members with Professional learning and an information session surrounding labour disputes. Some of the workshops and events offered in the fall of 2015 were; Take Back the Night, Make and Take, Stewards Training, ECE Appreciation Social Night, and the Communications and Boundaries Workshop. A local Lending Library was also set up for members. The Lending Library is a collection of resource books, provided by the local, available to all members. Members must sign out the book using our on-line service. Once they are finished with the resource, they either return it to the local office or forward it to the next local member using a courier service. Thus, making professional learning available to everyone.

Simcoe County Occasional Teacher Local

Health and Safety has been a priority issue for most workers for a long time and the Simcoe County Occasional Teacher Local has been advocating in a number of areas for many years. As a local, we have been limited to observer status on the Joint Health and Safety Committee, which unfortunately does not allow us to put forward formal recommendations for change or progress. As a result, we have worked closely with other affiliates to help promote our ideas toward solutions and relied on affiliate members to sign off on recommendations that we have written on behalf and for the benefit of our members.

Despite our observer status, we were welcome on all health and safety sub-committees and through our participation, we succeeded in getting our issues addressed and having new initiatives undertaken. One particular sub-committee that was struck focused on safety plan best practices, an area that truly needed attention. Our participation was the major factor in limiting the list of students a member was expected to read about before beginning an assignment
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Safety plans have been an issue for a number of years, as many schools had one binder that contained all student safety plans for the school. It was an unrealistic expectation for any occasional staff to read through large amounts of information in a short period of time and we had expressed our concerns around those expectations. We have successfully made changes with the Board so that occasional staff will only be required to read the safety plans of the students with whom they are working that day.

Our occasional teacher health and safety chair created a sub-committee, focused on awareness on health and safety. After three years, they were successful in ensuring all staff meetings begin with a 10 minute section dedicated to health and safety and that all occasional staff in the building are invited to attend. This has helped all of our members stay informed and creates a more inclusive environment for all staff at schools across Simcoe County.

Language in all health and safety documentation has been changed to include occasional teaching staff, and in some cases, the policy was significantly modified to accommodate our members and the nature of occasional teaching. Historically, occasional staff was not included in training expectations and after changes to the language, the standard practice includes training for all occasional teachers. Some specific examples of other changes include keys being available for all occasional staff at all assignments in order to comply with lock downs and/or hold and secure situations.

General information sharing has also been changed for the better so that admin and other colleagues are leaving pertinent information for the members to allow them to do their job safely and effectively in any assignment.

Emergency procedures have also become a uniform expectation and are now in all classrooms across the county, in the same place and containing the same information including, but not limited to, fire drill information, emergency numbers, tornado drills, etc.

Simcoe County Elementary Occasional Teachers have been leaders in health and safety for occasional teachers, educators and workers in our communities for a number of years and on a variety of fronts and we are proud of our record of achievement thus far.
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Simcoe County Teacher Local

Simcoe County Elementary Teachers Federation (SCETF) Stage a School-Wide Work Refusal
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"I refuse to work at Worsley as I feel the conditions are unsafe” (This is what each of the 27 teachers and staff reported to their principal as they began their day). And so began the day for 27 teachers and staff at Worsley Elementary School on February 23, 2013.

In a first in an Ontario school, almost the entire teaching and support staff at Worsley Elementary School in Wasaga Beach staged a Work Refusal under the //Occupational Health and Safety Act//. “They are doing a work refusal under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They deem that this is an unsafe workplace and that is why they are doing a work refusal,” said Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ Federation president Janet Bigham, speaking on behalf of the teachers. (http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/2014482-update-principal-incompetent-teachers-union-alleges/).

The work refusal (or “teacher walk-out” as was most-often reported in the media) was not a spontaneous occurrence, it was a deliberate decision that marked the culmination of two years of documented safety concerns at the school. In all, there were 34 documented issues including the claim that the principal was incompetent because she did not have a plan to maintain the safety of the teacher; something that is a necessity under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Over the course of the two years leading up to the work refusal, there were an escalating number of progressively worse incidences such that the staff realized they did not have a safe work environment. To protect themselves, the staff followed the required steps to perform a work refusal including notifying their supervisor and their employer in the hopes that the environment would be made safe. Unfortunately, no changes were made until after the refusal.

Some of the 34 documented safety concerns:

  • Administration repeatedly failed to communicate with staff about resolutions of incidents of violence concerning students
  • Lack of consequences for poor behavior of students on yard, in classroom and around school
  • Lack of consistent follow-up by administration with RCT’s on many issues concerning student behaviors
  • Safety plans not being updated or followed
  • Apparent lack of communication between VP & P in school
  • No clear behavior plan (no progressive discipline plan)
  • No clear communication plan
  • No time at staff meetings to address any of these concerns
  • Lack of respect among junior and intermediate students for any sort of authority > nothing being done to address issue
  • No clear re-entry meetings/plans following suspensions

“Ultimately if the teachers don’t feel safe it’s likely not safe for the students as well but I am not representing the students, I am representing the teachers,” said Bigham.

Timeline: (It shouldn't have been a surprise to the Board)
  1. Two years of documented issues reported by teachers and parents
  2. Friday, February 17, 2013 – SCETF notifies Board of potential work refusal and requests a resolution
  3. Tuesday, February 21, 2013 – SCETF again notifies Board of potential Work Refusal
  4. Wednesday, February 22, 2013 – SCETF sends email to Associate Director Medysky informing Board of Work Refusal the next day
  5. Thursday, February 23, 2013 – Full work refusal by 27 staff

This was the first time, in Ontario that an entire school used the Work Refusal process to ensure the workers. It is a significant milestone that brought about need change at Worsley Elementary School including the reassignment of the principal to another school for mentoring; bringing in a new principal to help change the climate and culture of the school; and perhaps most importantly, the Board now takes its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide a safe work environment seriously.

Sample News Links about the day:




Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ Federation

The Power of Unions and the Grievance Process

Issue: How Professional Learning funds areManaged

Within the SCETF local collective agreement, each FTE is entitled to receive $90.80 for the purpose of professional learning. In the past, these funds from the Board were sent directly to a budget line for each school at the beginning of the school year.

With a wide range in the number staff at a school it meant that some schools received significant funds while the smaller, rural schools received much less since there tended to be less staff members. While the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ monitored each schools use of funds there was no “cookie cutter” template so that all schools had the same set of “guidelines”, Each school was to have an “in-school” committee to oversee the use of these funds.

The purpose of the “in-school” committee was to have a transparent system so members could access funds. It was suggested that the “in-school” committee have representation from each division and the school steward. No administrator was to be part of the committee. The plans were to be sent to the SCETF office for approval. The plans varied and the larger schools were able to offer larger sums of money to members as they tended to have more carry over money from year to year. Sadly, some members chose not to use their funds and therefore funds started to accumulate at schools. The members were always reminded throughout the school year (at meetings, through email, workshops etc.) and the message was clear – use the money.

In 2005, the Board indicated they were not happy with the current arrangements and how PL funds were being managed. The Board gave notice that they would no longer be allowing this “carry over” of excess funds from year to year in the Professional Learning Budget line at each school but that in good faith, they would give fair warning and this would be allowed until August 31, 2006. In response to this information, an ETFO executive officer warned the Board that any funds that were clawed back would be grieved.

At the end of August, 2006 the Board did in fact pull the funds and each “in-school” PL committee noted there were no funds in the account. A grievance was filed .
April 8th, 2008 was the arbitration date.
The grievance was won by the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ Federation and in the end, the Board had to ‘pay back’ the funds clawed back which amounted to over $323,500. The funds were returned to each school (over 90 sites) according to a schedule that had been agreed upon.

Additional implications for this action is that the Board recognized our power, and in 2012, the funding model changed again to streamline the distribution of the funds and accessibility. SCETF and the Board came to agree that all the PL funds can be sent directly to SCETF and that SCETF manage the funds. The Board recognized that tracking the funds at each site was a huge job . SCETF has an application process for members to access funds for conferences, courses, workshops or professional resources. This model gives all our members the same criteria for accessing funds and making it much more equitable. Whereas in the past, the amount of money a member received varied from school to school.

Members are now able to apply for one of the following:
1) Up to $650 to cover the cost of an AQ, ABQ, or Masters course
2) Up to $350 towards the cost of a conference PLUS 2 days of supply cost
3) OR $150 worth of professional learning resources.

(Must not be Board sponsored workshops).

As well, SCETF is able to organize professional learning opportunities for our members.
We try to ensure our workshops reach out to different grades/divisions/curriculum areas. We seek out authors and presenters who are current and deliver sound, practical teaching ideas. AS well, through an evaluation process we get feedback and use this it to direct our planning. Due to our budget we are able to provide release time for some of these workshops.


Limitless Personal Circumstances Leave
Once upon a time when we had the 20 days of sick leave and the ability to bank days, prolonged bereavement leave and leave for personal circumstances were able to be satisfied through the days already provided to members or those that they had been able to bank from previous years.
Prior to Bill 115, SCDSB members were allocated 20 “sick days” regardless of the code/reason that was given in the system. However in 2012 this would change for our members where they were only allocated 15 days and these days were then shifted into two distinct categories, “sick days” that used code 1 and 2 and then 5 additional supplemental days including bereavement, inclement weather, etc. This meant that members were between a rock and a hard place when they had exhausted the 5 supplemental days in their banks.
For our Chief Negotiators and our members this became a pressing issue that we had to do something about.
The timing of these negotiations were unique. Talks at the local table took place over the summer which meant that many of our local Executive, including our President and Vice President were unavailable, as well as many Board staff and the Trustees would not be meeting again until after the summer break.
There were a number of agreed to items that were tabled and agreed upon before leaving for the summer break including grievance timelines, out dated language and other general housekeeping items. Totaling about 20 different issues. These agreed upon items had been tabled, put in writing, signed and were made in good faith to be honored on both sides.
However when it came time for the agreed to items to be presented by the Associate Director to the Trustees in 2012, oddly only the agreed to items from July that had been discussed were presented, and none from the previous year’s negotiations.
Our Chief Negotiators now had the Board over a barrel because the Associate Director needed to keep face with the Trustees and not let on that they had made a mistake by not presenting the agreed to items from the year before. This now meant we were in a position where he was able to return to issues that he had not previously been resolved and we were in a dead lock over.
When it came to the issue of Personal Circumstance Leave, both sides had agreed that they needed to find a solution to this problem and that capping members at 15 days total was not a viable option.
It was determined that there was a period of 2 days when the negotiating team from SCETF and the Chief Negotiator from the Board would meet. The meeting took place at the SCETF Local Office on a hot day. With a few phone calls back and forth our negotiating team made it quite clear that they were not going to move forward on any other issues until they had sorted out the Personal Circumstances Leave.
And then something happened…negotiators became just men again, and had casual conversations while helping the Chief Negotiators from the Board change his flat car tire outside of the SCETF Office. Maybe it was our negotiators quick wit and humor or their strong unwillingness to step down, but under a jacked car, it no longer was us vs. them and a solution was found.
Our members now enjoy a Personal Circumstance Leave with no limitation of duration placed upon it. Many of our members with children who have pro-long health care needs and numerous doctor appointments throughout the year have been granted these days, with pay, while in other boards they may be limited to the allotted 5 days.
While are we not naive that this will not be on the shopping block in the future rounds, it has set a precedence that it is what is best for our members and that these expectations can be met by our employer without the system going up in flames.


Superior-Greenstone Occasional Teacher Local

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Superior-Greenstone Teacher Local

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Thames Valley Occasional Teacher Local

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Thames Valley Teacher Local

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TVTL Considers Constitutional Reform

In April of 2013, at the Thames Valley Teacher Local’s annual general meeting, the members voted for a change in leadership. The newly-elected executive team ran on a three-point campaign of: a) effective communication and respect,
b) openness and accountability, and c) facing the future together. One of the main considerations proposed by the present executive was a reform of the Local’s constitution. In December, a Constitution Committee of eight TVTL members, including two executive representatives, began the daunting task of formulating possible amendments to the constitution. The goals of this committee were to clarify the wording, to update the roles and responsibilities of the various positions held by executive and committee members, and to plan for a restructuring of the executive itself.

At the February 2014 local executive meeting, the suggested changes were presented by the chair of the committee, RuthAnn Morley. The executive members engaged in prolonged discussions on the implications and ramifications of these possible amendments. One of the most contentious was the proposal to absorb the job of chief negotiator/grievance officer into a third vice-president, with the stipulation of having one of the three VP positions designated for women only. An increment of non-released executive members from 7 to 8 was also proposed, with an increase from 3 to 5 in the positions open to women only. Although some of the members of the TVTL executive were against such amendments, they were still brought forth at the 2014 AGM, held on April 23th. It was judged important to let the members themselves decide.


As the meeting shifted from the approval of the coming year’s operating budget to the debate on the proposed constitutional amendments, the issue of quorum for voting remained at the forefront. After some initial confusion, it was determined that quorum (5% of the local members) had been reached, with 178 in attendance. The most contentious amendment was presented first. After some intense discussion, the vote was taken. A 60% approval was required for the motion to pass. It was defeated by only two votes.

Throughout the evening, other proposed amendments were carried, including the rebranding of the Stewards’ council and the delineation of duties for Health and Safety representatives. It is of note that, prior to the loss of quorum, TVTL members voted to reestablish the Human Rights/Social Justice and Status of Women Committees. It was an ambitious move on the part of the local executive to present such a full roster of amendments to the constitution within one year. Many lessons can be learned from this exercise, as the TVTL continues to progress in exciting and forward-thinking directions.


Thames Valley District School Board

A Question of Bullying

On November 8th, 2012 Thames Valley District School Board’s Director of Education, Bill Tucker, sent out a letter to 3,200 Elementary teachers accusing them of being bullies and using workplace intimidation during this tumultuous time of stalled contract negotiations with the provincial government. In the letter, Tucker stated that if the teachers did not perform their teaching responsibilities, they would be “subject to appropriate consequences; loss of pay, and/or potential disciplinary review”. Tucker admonished teachers for their actions after teachers withdrew all extra-curricular involvement including their attendance of any staff meetings that occurred on either a Monday or a Tuesday.

The president of the Thames Valley Teacher Local rejected the allegation that members were acting adversely to the law. This withdrawal of service occurred after the Liberal Government of Ontario imposed Bill 115, which imposed wage freezes on contracts and limited their strike action capabilities. As a result, the Thames Valley teacher local felt their reaction was an appropriate response to legislation that was imposed upon them. Teachers were offended by the letter as they felt it was an unwarranted reprimand and threat, and that they themselves were feeling bullied. The union argued that it was not a strike activity, and that it was simply a pause in activities teachers were not paid to do. While many teachers were offended by the letter as it created a stressful work environment, the Thames Valley ETFO president reinforced that the union would support and defend any member if the board took any inappropriate actions that were laid out in Bill Tucker’s letter.

Bill Tucker’s letter demonstrated that the board was indeed using intimidation tactics and was thereby the real bully. It united the union even more and strengthened the Thames Valley Teacher Local’s resolve to protect and fight for the rights of its members.

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TECHNOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY, keeping up with the times!

ETFO Thames Valley has delved into the age of technology. This will be our first year using on-line voting to cast our ballets for our next Executive.


The benefits of a union


The benefits of a union are many. Some teachers returning from Maternity/Parental Leave were wrongfully given pro-rated Sick Days, Care Days and Short Term Disability entitlement from our Board. Once brought to the attention of our union, those teachers were given full entitlement based on their FTE.

Once again the union has stood up for our members here at Thames Valley. Teachers who qualified to move across the grid were told by the Board they would receive their increase next September, not on the 97th day of the current year. OSSTF earlier took the Board to task on this and it was deemed, by the Government, that the wording in the MOU meant the increase should be granted on the 97th day. The Board tried to convince ETFO that this only applied to OSSTF and not ETFO. Needless to say, ETFO members now receive such increases on the 97th day.

Report Cards – Professional Judgement….pfft!
Bill 122 assured us that our professional judgment would remain intact when writing student report cards, as long as we adhered to the guidelines outlined in Growing Success. Those guidelines are specific in how many strands of art, etc, are expected to be reported on in each reporting session, as well as the expectations around reporting of next steps, and so on.
In 2016, the TVDSB decided to try and discipline teachers who were using their professional judgement as well as adhering to the Growing Success document. You see, our board had a different set of expectations, above and beyond the Ministry’s. Teachers (whose administrators decided to report them) who did not fulfill the board’s expectations received disciplinary letters from HR, MAILED TO THEIR HOMES, outlining their alleged crime and were notified that the letters would be kept in their personnel files.
In April of 2016, 109 of these letters were issued, in addition to 9 during the previous spring. Every letter was grieved, in the name of the board interfering with professional judgement.
The board initially denied the grievances, and it was sent to arbitration. Our local won the arbitration, and every discipline letter surrounding this grievance (over 110) were removed from personnel files during the summer of 2016.

Toronto Catholic DECE Local

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Toronto Occasional Teacher Local

Classroom Keys for Occasional Teachers:

The Issue:

Occasional Teachers have long held that having a set of classroom keys is essential in ensuring the safety of both students and teachers, most especially in the case of lockdown situations.
Unfortunately, not all schools were amenable and OTs were frequently not provided with classroom keys at the schools they worked at. This became a major safety concern for OTs. While the Toronto District School Board’s policy was that OTs should be given keys, up until 2014 this policy was not enshrined in the OT Collective Agreement, so it was difficult to enforce and to hold school administration accountable.

Action Taken:

The Toronto OT local became a big advocate for getting OTs keys starting as far back as 2012, if not before. Members began calling the local when they were not provided with keys. These calls were documented and reported on to the Toronto District School Board.
Unfortunately, many members were reluctant to report schools for fear that these schools would not call them back for future jobs. Scott Maudsley, the Health and Safety representative at that time believed it was “a legitimate fear because the Board insisted on getting all of the member's information when such a complaint was made including the school, date, OA involved, admin involved and all circumstances including, of course, the member's name.”
According to Maudsley, there were only a few OTs who consistently reported and these members became targets for those schools. He kept a long spreadsheet of all these occurrences and brought these up at almost every consultation meeting he had with the TDSB.
The TDSB promised to act and to do their best to get these schools to cooperate, but there was nothing in the Collective Agreement to enforce OTs getting keys and schools complained that OTs would not return the keys at the end of the day.
The TDSB did send out memos suggesting that schools put the keys on a chain with a huge lanyard or stick so that OTs would and could not forget to return them. Yet many schools still did not comply or demanded that OTs leave their own keys, wallets or credit cards in order to get a key. It was the Local's position that OTs should not have to leave their own personal possessions hostage in order to get something that was critical to their students' safety.
While this was happening, the Toronto OT Health and Safety representatives Scott Maudsley and Todd Prescott were in constant contact with many at ETFO Provincial, including Valence Yong who was head of Health and Safety at the time. They were continuously putting pressure on ETFO provincial to take decisive action to address the problem around OTs getting access to classroom keys.
A huge watershed for this issue was the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in December 2012. For some context, here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Sandy Hook Shooting:
"Lanza (the shooter) then entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room, and was trying to hide them in a bathroom, when Lanza forced his way into the classroom.[44]Rousseau, Rachel D'Avino (a behavioral therapist who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special needs student), and fifteen students in Rousseau's class were all killed."
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Following this tragedy, Scott Maudsley was prompted to have a very frank discussion with the Local President at the time, Marion Mutton. As a result of this conversation, she made the decision to include a very bluntly worded message about keys in the January 2013 Newsletter about.
The following is an excerpt from the January 2013 Local newsletter (Volume 15, issue 2):

"OT Tragedy in Sandy Hook
On December 14, Lauren Rousseau, a Canadian citizen and Occasional Teacher was shot dead along with every one of her students at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. The shooter had free access to her classroom because, as an Occasional Teacher, Ms. Rousseau did not have the key to lock her door. As an Occasional Teacher, you have a right and a duty to keep yourself and your students safe so you should also have a right to the key to your classroom. If a school refuses to give you a key, call this office at (416) 227-1866 to report the problem. You may also contact your Health and Safety Representative – contact information on the school's Health and Safety Bulletin Board or the Ministry of Labour Hotline at 1-877-202-0008.
Up until this time, the local had tried their best to cooperate with the TDSB and not get members agitated on this issue. However, when the local published this strong statement in their newsletter, they did so without first consulting with the TDSB. This represented a big departure from the usual strictly diplomatic relationship with the Board at this time.
In talks with the Board, The Toronto OT local executive continued to vigorously pursue the issue of OTs access to classroom keys in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. The Toronto OT local made a big impression on ETFO provincial and the TDSB by insisting that no one could afford a repeat of Sandy Hook and that the way to do that was to ensure that all teachers, including OTs, had keys to lock down their classrooms."

Resolution and Impact on Membership:

The result of all these actions taken by the Toronto OT local was a comprehensive Health and Safety report that included some twenty-five or so recommendations, one of the most important being that OTs get keys. The name of this report is: ETFO MOU Provincial Health and Safety Task Force Report and Recommendations September 2014 and can be found at: http://etfohealthandsafety.ca/etfo-mou-task-force-on-health-and-safety-report-and-recommendations-september-2014/
For reference, please see Section 3, pages 9 to 11, which discusses Lockdown Procedures.
Eventually, this was enshrined in the 2014 central Collective Agreement with a deadline of December 31, 2015 for all schools to comply.
(Please see page 20 of the current [September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2019] CA between the TDSB and EFTO for further detail on this.)
However, even though it went into the CA, some schools are still not fully in compliance and continue to demand personal identification cards or personal keys in exchange for a set of classroom keys.


Toronto Occasional Teacher Local

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Our 2008-2012 collective agreement was an instrumental one for occasional teachers because it finally gave us instructional time during the school day. Section 28.2.0 in our collective agreement reads “The Timetable for an occasional teacher shall be the same as the timetable of the teacher being replaced”. Before this addition to our collective agreement, lesson planning has been a spontaneous task for an occasional teacher. In our 2008-2012 collective agreement, occasional teachers were finally able to sit down during the course of the day to do some lesson planning during their prep periods. Even if teachers have traded preps with one another, it shall not be paid back when the occasional teacher was on assignment at the school. If there was a shortage of supply teachers in the school that day, occasional teachers may be required to cover classes during their preps if no regular staff were available at that time.

Even though this has been stated in our collective agreement it continues to be an ongoing struggle for us. Schools are reminded of this clause on a yearly basis in the OT update emails from the board that go out to the 468 elementary schools in the TDSB. This latest reminder states the following, “It is hard to fill teacher and/or LTO absences when their classification code says “default…..” The occasional teacher does not understand what that means and what the subject area is. It is possible they will not accept your job. The elementary occasional teacher’s collective agreement states that the timetable shall be the same as the timetable of the teacher being replaced.” – Occasional Teaching Update 13/14 #19 TDSB. Unfortunately schools continue to reassign occasional teachers during their prep time. It is also stated in our collective agreement that on the first day of an a assignment, occasional teachers are given 15 minutes prior to the start of a full day assignment and 15 minutes prior to the start of an afternoon assignment time to become familiar with the course content for that day. The same OT update states the following “28.2.1. Notwithstanding Article 28.2.0(Working Conditions) an Occasional Teacher shall not be assigned any supervisory duty prior to the commencement of class, on the first morning of an assignment or prior to the commencement of the afternoon class on the first day if it is a half-day afternoon assignment. It is understood that a comparable supervisory duty may be assigned by the principal that day.” – Occasional Teaching Update 13/14 #19 TDSB.
Our members are reminded in our newsletter “the dispatch” that occasional teachers are entitled to the timetable of the teacher to whom they are replacing. Monthly reminders are posted on our twitter and facebook accounts too. If administrators reassign occasional teachers during their preps, this is considered a violation of our collective agreement and the occasional teacher may be compensated an additional .5 of a work day. That .5 of a work day will be taken out of the school budget.
As occasional teachers, we cannot take our gains for granted and we cannot be complacent. If we do, successive generations of occasional teachers will not enjoy the current rights that we have today.
Impact of capped OT list

The Issue:
Our Local negotiated with the board to introduce a cap on the occasional teacher roster in 2016. This had an impact on the board's hiring practices and also impacted their approach towards existing members who did not renew their status as an OT to stay on the list for next year. This is done through a two-step process by filling out two different online forms/requests. Each year we have had some members who did not do the renewal within the given deadline for various reasons (some being family emergencies). In the past, typically the board would reinstate them based on their track record. Similarly, we had a few members who did not do their renewal this year but this time the board did not reinstate them because they had to honor the cap and they wanted to fill few remaining spots on the list based on their hiring needs. We had many members who lost their jobs because of this. Members who have been teaching for more than 10 years, who have done more than 100 days.

Action taken:
The local immediately started dialogue with the board with the support of our ETFO staff officer. We gathered data from many members who belonged to this category and presented it to the board. We made a case for them. We made sure we expedite the process of collectively agreeing to an FTE to determine the exact number of the capped list. We frequently communicated with the members and board through various channels. Finally a special meeting was set up (apart from the regular meetings with the board) with the deputy director and other officers of the board to resolve this issue.

Resolution and impact on membership:
The board agreed to reinstate these members this one time and also agreed to consider reviewing the online renewal process for future to reduce such cases. All the members who did not do the renewal received official communication from the board inviting them to express their willingness to be reinstated and they will finally be able to work again. We also made plans to communicate the message to all these members through emails and phone calls individually.
All the members who were affected by this issue are relieved and delighted that they can work again and they are grateful to the local for working with them throughout the tough times and being persistent when it was needed the most.


Launching the “Respect OTs” Campaign

The Issue:

The Toronto Occasional Teahers' Local acknowledged the experience of Occasional teachers who felt like they operate “as an island” because it was challenging to bounce from school to school, without consistent colleagues to connect to, all the while facing barriers of precarious work. Some of these barriers include late cancellations for jobs that one depended on, and infringements of the collective agreement. Often times, they expressed being given heavier workloads due to the misconstruction that OTs have less on their plates. The last concern was that OTs are dealing with school atmospheres which view them as strangers and thus behave in an unfriendly/unwelcoming manner towards the members.
The Local also acknowledged that there are many misconceptions or stereotypes that exist within the larger community regarding the work that OTs do. These may range from the assumption that OTs are only doing this as a step towards their contract positions, which does not take into consideration of Career OTs, to the idea that OTs are merely substitutes.

Action taken:

After much consideration the 2016/17 Local Executive rolled out the Respect OTs Campaign, with the slogan “Just because we teach occasionally, it doesn’t mean we deserve respect occasionally”. This campaign occurred in three stages. The first stage was the launch of a website with a subscription component, which included a short video of some of the situations TDSB OTs encounter daily. The second phase was a “As an OT, Respect Means to me…” section where our members wrote short stories/scenarios of what respect is/feel/looks like within TDSB schools. The most recent phase, which is going to start shortly is a Community Forum. The initiative here is to get community members involved in the campaign and to share their positive experiences or interactions with OTs.

Resolution and impact on membership:

While this campaign is still very new, it certainly is meeting the expectation to “get the conversation started” and change the dialogue for Occasional Teachers. Other Locals/OTs, as well as our permanent teacher colleagues became curious regarding the experiences of TDSB OTs and this helped to spark interest in our initiative. However, this process is a 5 year-plan in which the Local hopes to make significant changes around the discourse and dialogue about OTs, firstly within TDSB schools, and extending to the wider community, with ultimately a provincial impact towards the end.

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Trillium Lakelands DECE Local

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Trillium Lakelands Occasional Teacher Local

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Trillium Lakelands Teacher Local

Trillium Lakelands DSB is a geographically large school board located in Central Ontario. The Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teacher Local has just over 700 members.

In response to the Province-wide increase in absenteeism among teachers and other education workers, the school board chose to dramatically scale back the amount of release time provided to educators for Professional Development (PD) or Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). As a result of this, some principals felt themselves limited in how they could facilitate meetings, PD, and PLCs in the way that they previously had. In September and October of 2017, a principal in the Trillium Lakelands District School Board came up with a “creative” solution to this new problem. They mandated that educators participate in rotating mandatory lunch meetings regarding special needs students. Educators, including teachers, were informed that they must attend these meetings through their designated, uninterrupted forty-minute lunch period (a time that has been protected in Collective Agreements in this school board for a significant amount of time). Worse still, is that due to the nature of these meetings, the SERT (Special Education Resource Teacher) was required to attend and participate in all or nearly all of these meetings, as they almost exclusively dealt with students with Special Education needs.

When the Trillum Lakelands Elementary Teachers’ Local was made aware of these mandatory meetings which were a clear violation of the Collective Agreement, it contacted the Suppervisory Officer to gather more information, and to discuss the situation. The Supervisory Officer did not agree with the Local that these meetings contravened the Collective Agreement, and in fact, the Supervisory Officer seemed disappointed that the Local did not see the ingenuity of this ‘creative solution’ to the problem that they had manufactured. When it became clear that the employer would not request that this practice stop, the Local filed a grievance. As this was a very clear violation of the Collective Agreement, and one that had been violated in the past by the employer.

Prior to the First Step Meeting, the Supervisory Officer informed the Local President that she would be in contact regarding some follow up regarding this situation. It was surprising that the Steward for that worksite informed the Local President that an email had been sent from the Principal of the school to all staff explaining that these mandatory meetings were no longer necessary, and thanking all of the staff for their co-operation.

Later on, at a Labour Management Meeting, the Supervisory Officer was hopeful that the grievance would be withdrawn as the practice had stopped. The Local President advocated for lieu time for the affected members. After some time, it was agreed that members who were negatively impacted by this violation of the Collective Agreement would be given lieu time by being permitted to leave early on the Board-mandated ‘Parent-Interview Night’, and if that was not possible, members were permitted to take their lieu time any time up until January 31st, 2018.
By ensuring that the collectively bargained rights of its members were being upheld, and by seeking damages to flagrant violations of those rights, TLETL felt that this was a clear victory. With the agreed upon resolution, the employer has a deterrent from attempting to commandeer member’s lunches or other protected break times.


Trillium Lakes Elementary Teachers Local Victory!
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of the word toil, is to work hard,
especially work that makes you feel physically tired
The acronym, means Time Off In Lieu

There is a consistent growing amount of errors on teacher timetables regarding teaching, preparation and duty times. In our collective agreement and based on a 1.0 FTE and per 5 day cycle, teaching time is comprised of 1500 minutes, preparation time consist of 240 minutes and duty minutes are to be no more than 80 minutes (supervision less than 80 minutes was based on the 2007-2008 year average.)

Every year our Local office goes over all teacher timetables and duty schedules in our Board, as it is assured that there will be mistakes. These mistakes could range from people working more than their allotted time, to teachers not receiving enough preparation time, to people doing too much duty or even not having a forty minute uninterrupted lunch.

This year it demonstrated once again that our collective agreement was not adhered to and when the errors were noted, the TLETL released officers discussed the issue with the school board. The employer was showed all incorrect timetables with complete calculation for missed time.The board personnel then contacted administrators who were then asked to review and make certain timetables were corrected. The board and administrators need to be held accountable in instances when the collective agreements were broken. Many administrators forget that it is their agreement as well.

This year any member that was short changed on their collective agreement rights was given lieu time to replace any hardship they endured. Lieu time of almost 4 days was received. Lieu time was allotted to members with the only stipulation that it be used by January 31, 2017.


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It’s About Respect
Since its inception in 1998 the Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers had a provision in their contract that allowed them to take lieu time in recognition of the time they put in after school hours to interview parents after the first report card of the year was sent home. One of the predecessor boards, the Victoria County Board of Education, had this provision in their contract prior to amalgamation. The expectation was that all parents would be offered an interview time during the Thursday evening or the Friday morning of the Professional Activity Day in November. Teachers were then allowed to leave at 12:00 p.m. on the Friday PA Day. This worked well for years and teachers really enjoyed it and felt appreciated. This agreement was accomplished through a Letter of Understanding attached to the Collective Agreement.
There was a change in language in the Letter of Understanding included in the Collective Agreement signed May 26, 2005 stating that, effective September 1, 2008, if a Professional Activity day is allocated by the Employer for parent-teacher interviews, the procedure outlined above would be in effect. This proved to be “weasel language” because it gave the Employer an opportunity to use the Professional Activity day for its own purposes and nullify the long standing practice of lieu time. The practice continued as before.
In September 2010, this all changed. It had previously been agreed to at the Provincial Discussion Table (PDT), that teachers would be given 2 Professional Activity days each school year to complete report cards, in recognition of the sizable amount of work these reports took to complete. There was no increase in the number of Professional Activity days during the school year, just a re-designation of how these days were to be used.
With this change, the Trillium Lakelands District School Board rescinded the Professional Activity day for parent interviews and with it, the lieu time in recognition of the extra personal time given up to accomplish evening interviews.
During the latest round of Collective Bargaining between TLETL (Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers Local) and the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, regaining this lieu time was one of the Collective Bargaining team’s goals. In many schools throughout the Board, evening interviews had continued as before, but without the lieu time being given. Many teachers found it was simply more expedient to offer parents an evening to come in for an interview than it was to try to arrange 20+ interview times before and after school. It also allowed the co-ordination of interviews for families with several children in the school.
Happily, the TLETL Collective Bargaining team was successful in negotiating lieu time back into the new contract. It is not to be called “lieu time”, but there is provision for an “early departure time on the Professional Activity day. Teachers must be in the building conducting interviews for 4 hours during the evening prior to the Professional Activity day. The following day, after being present for 4 hours, during which teachers take part in whatever the Board plans for Professional Development, teachers may choose to leave the building. This is outlined in a Letter of Understanding attached to the contract.
This year, due to Work to Rule restrictions in the fall of 2015, these evening interviews will take place on Thursday March 10, 2016 and the new Professional Activity day (that was gained through Central Table Bargaining between ETFO and the Ontario government) is scheduled for Friday March 11, 2016.
Going forward, the new Professional Activity day will likely take place in late November with the evening interviews taking place the night before. Gaining back this provision in our Collective Agreement has been a huge improvement for teachers in the Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers Local and the Collective Bargaining Committee was extremely pleased with their success.

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A Struggle:
On January 23rd, 2013, the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) and the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) jointly filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (ORLB) suggesting that these two Locals counseled unlawful strike action according to the definition outlined in the Education Act. In a nutshell, the allegation to the ORLB was that the Executive of the TLETL told its members that they could not take part in extra-curricular activities. Karen Round, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of TLDSB, alleged that extra-curricular learning is an integral part of a TLDSB student’s education and that the Local was interfering in that well-rounded education by impeding its members from participating in such activities within their schools.

Senior Executive along with representatives of ETFO were busy throughout the late winter and early spring of 2013 arguing the case at the ORLB hearings. With all the controversy surrounding the passing and repeal of Bill 115, the retirement of Dalton McGuinty and the Election on January 26th, 2013 of Premier Kathleen Wynne, the hearings were stalled. It became clear that the ORLB wished to reserve judgment in hopes that the complaint would more or less resolve itself. Here are the highlights of that eventual decision from the ETFO “Control Your Future” website: http://www.controlyourfuture.ca/wp-content/uploads/F3042-12-U-Trillium-Lakelands.pdf

The highlights of the Highlights:

  • ETFO-TLETL to withdraw the “advice” to not participate in extra-curricular and voluntary activities
  • The repealing of Bill 115 under Premier Wynne although the creation of new collective agreements remained
  • The belief by the ORLB that under the Education Act that the removal of voluntary services is in itself considered strike action
  • There were no final orders delivered by the ORLB pending the litigation surrounding the Charter Challenge between ETFO and the definition of the word “strike” in the Education Act.

As of April 8th, 2014 there is no outcome to the Charter Challenge issued by ETFO regarding the definition of the term “strike”. And although it will be a long drawn out process, a ruling will inevitably lead to a clear definition of the word which will allow Provincial and Local Executives to plan and execute strike actions that fall within our legal rights.


In 2006, a member contacted a Local released officer to discuss the loss of her prep time due to a mandatory PLC that all teachers in the division had been required to attend. This member approached her principal shortly after missing her prep time to ask that it be paid back, but was denied.
The Vice-President assigned to the member’s school called the principal to confirm the events as the member described them to him as a first step towards finding resolution. The principal explained, with support from her Superintendent, that the language of the collective agreement did not require prep time payback when teachers were expected to attend meetings or PD events.

The relevant language from the collective agreement at the time stated:

"…the Board shall ensure the following:

Effective September 1, 2006, each full-time Member shall be assigned the equivalent of 180 minutes of preparation time free from supervisory, teaching or other assigned duties for each period of five (5) instructional days. Preparation time coverage will be provided only for classroom teachers (including self-contained special education teachers)."

and also:

"Preparation time shall be used for professional duties as determined by the teacher, and shall be scheduled exclusive of morning and afternoon recesses and the lunch interval within the instructional day."

The Board and Local could not reach an agreement about whether missed prep time was to be paid back, and the issue was grieved. During the grievance hearings, the Board argued that past practice of reassigning OTs to permanent teachers to give them “extra” release time made up for any lost preparation time as a result of school- or Board-directed PD but they failed to provide evidence of this practice, as none of the principals called as witnesses kept accurate records of who had lost prep time and who had received OT release time.

Eventually, the arbitrator for this grievance found in favour of our Local, agreeing that if a principal expected a member to attend a PLC or any event during his/her prep time, then that member’s right to determine what professional duties were completed during that prep time was being violated.

The resolution of this grievance had a positive impact on the teachers in Trillium Lakelands. Over the past several years, the Board has adopted the “adult model” of learning during PD, which (in theory) allows teachers to take their regularly-scheduled prep time during PD events without penalty. There are still administrators who challenge our right to do this, but our Local leaders frequently and clearly reiterate this right to members. This settlement has also been used as support in other Locals’ grievances/arbitrations on similar issues.

Upper Canada Occasional Teacher Local

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In the fall of 2015, our local executive took the opportunity to reflect on how things were working in our local and our executive, beginning with an executive retreat in September. As we worked through this process we found the committee structure in our small local was ineffective; we had too many committees and rarely accomplished anything.

Continuing with our discussions and reflection in October at an Executive Planning Session. We looked at each of the committees and what they each do and discussed, questioned, and problem solved around how we might reorganise our local committees to make them more effective and work for us. We decided that instead of members and chairs of different committees working on separate projects, we had to merge some committees to refocus our efforts. We decided that the Political Action Committee would be renamed the Political Action/Public Relations Committee, the Status of Women and Equity and Social Justice Committees should become one committee and the Awards, Social, and New Member Committees should be amalgamated into a Members Engagement Committee. This post focuses on the newly created Member Engagement Committee.

The Member Engagement Committee has a relatively broad mandate, as you can see from the Terms of Reference and Specific Duties listed below, but there can be considerable overlap

Terms of Reference:
  • To advise the Executive as to the perspective of members on Federation initiatives.
  • To make recommendations to the Executive regarding support of UCOTL members
  • To identify ways to encourage members to become involved in the Federation.
  • To recommend strategies to educate members about Federation and their role and responsibilities as members
  • To arrange socials and other opportunities for members to meet together

Specific Duties:
  • To contact new members by phone when newly hired to UCDSB.
  • To plan and host member Socials throughout the Board
  • To engage the membership in discussion and action through events, social media and email about issues related to Education.
  • To plan and host the Celebration Dinner
  • To promote Local and Provincial Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries

The committee this year is quite large, compared to our other committees, with nine members including the chair; however, they are spread widely across the school board allowing us to stay in touch with members. The creation of the committee has encouraged more collaboration among committee members who do a fantastic job of communicating with the committee chair. The enthusiasm of committee members has encouraged our local to become more adventurous, trying new things and to look at past practice with a new light. Moving to a Member Engagement lens has refocused the local executive and provided members with a variety of ways to engage and interact.

ETFO has a multi-year strategy for addressing violence in schools. Our O.T. local teamed up with our sister teacher local in November 2017 to host a roundtable discussion about violence in our schools. Teachers were invited to participate in the dialogue and to help facilitate were Diane Dewing and Peter Lindsay. There were over 30 concerned teachers who attended and voiced their apprehensions about our daily struggles in the classroom.

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This is a very important topic that will be central in our next round of bargaining. This is a province wide problem that must to be addressed and long term solutions needs to be in place to help us as teachers. Students are in great need of help that extends way beyond the classroom. Let’s continue to get word out!

Upper Canada Teacher Local

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Upper Canada Local negotiates superior pregnancy clauses

In 2013, ETFO Provincial worked closely with Premier Kathleen Wynne at the provincial discussion table to establish a provincial framework that would minimize the damage of the strips to Collective Agreements (CA) imposed by Bill 115 and the McGuinty Government. One of the gains was that superior maternity benefits would be applied to all locals.

The language in the 2013 framework was modeled around the pregnancy benefits previously gained over a number of years, by the negotiating team that was formed during the birth of the Upper Canada Local in 1998.

In the words of one of the team members:
"Having good pregnancy leave clauses is the result of a leadership team that was sensitive to women's issues. We worked to improve the clauses every time we negotiated. Of course there were years when CAs were only a year long so we could make little improvements that added up over time. It did not hurt that many of our members had family and friends working in the Public Service in Ottawa and were aware of their vastly superior clauses. We also had a high percentage of women members who could naturally see the potential gains of improved pregnancy leave clauses. During those years the Local also saw the need to more actively engage women members and offered many opportunities to attend women`s programmes in Toronto where they were made aware of women`s issues.

The negotiating team worked very hard for many years researching and writing proposals. We were always more prepared than the Board to discuss these. Furthermore, there was an arbitration that allowed women to claim sick leave for six weeks following the birth of a child and so we looked at combining this potential cost to the Board with EI provisions. We tried to appeal to the win-win situation. To be fair to the Board, most of the people were focused on money issues and if they could see a no-cost or little cost solution, they would go along with it."

To continue to make improvements in the challenge to balance work and home life, it will take optimistic members who can envision positive change, and are dedicated to growing the recent rebirth of the greater labour movement.


Hazardous weather conditions - a change of perception
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The Upper Canada District School Board covers most of southeastern Ontario, with the exception of Ottawa, from Kingston to the Quebec border. The product of the provincial Harris government's push to merge municipal districts in the nineties, it is now one of the largest boards in Ontario. Teachers, particularly those in their first five years, frequently find themselves commuting up to three hours a day. It is quite common to spend at least an hour a day getting to and from work; and, because this is a predominantly rural board, this commute is almost invariably behind the wheel of a car.

Winter roads in south-eastern Ontario are subject to blowing and drifting snow, white-outs, and a decreased level of highway maintenance. On Highways 401 and 417, the main commuting route for many teachers, truck traffic has ballooned. Many truck drivers are inexperienced and have little formal training, resulting in a much higher percentage of accidents caused by truckers. People who have to drive during inclement weather have to choose between the highways (better maintained, but a high concentration of transports not driving to the weather conditions) and the secondary roads (poorly maintained or not plowed at all).

Until 2008, if you were a teacher in Upper Canada, you were considered to be sick if you believed that the roads were too hazardous. It did not matter that the O.P.P. might have warned people to postpone all non-essential travel. Young teachers, intimidated by their principals and/or trying to avoid using their sick days, routinely strapped their children into their car seats and headed off to their daycares and their schools, passing cars in the ditch as they went. Older teachers, who had weighed the risks and decided that using a sick day was preferable to driving, were frequently scolded by their principals for staying home when other teachers had come to work. Those teachers who did make it in to school during a snow day observed that their absent colleagues, even though they were officially "sick", were not even being replaced by substitute teachers.

In 2008, the collective bargaining team secured a clause specifying that teacher absences due to hazardous weather conditions would no longer be penalized. Here is the clause from the 2008-2012 collective agreement that made snow days a little less fraught for commuting teachers:

"Hazardous Weather Conditions
14. 11 When, in consultation with the Principal or designate, the teacher considers it hazardous for the teacher to travel to or from school or to be in school, then the teacher shall be
excused so long as the hazard exists. When absences are due to hazardous weather conditions there shall be no pay deductions or loss of sick leave credit."

Every winter, teachers in the Upper Canada local breathe a little easier knowing that they can work on their report cards from home during hazardous weather.


Building Public Community Support for Public Education: A Community Forum in Upper Canada

On November 30, 2017, the ETFO Upper Canada Local partnered with the Upper Canada Occasional Teachers Local to host a Community Forum in Cornwall, Ontario, to explore current issues in public education. The keynote speaker Dr. Janine Scott, an experienced local psychologist who works with Developmental Services, shared her perspective on the changing nature of student needs and the lack of mental health services available in the local area. Three panelists also shared their views: Constable Andrew Arbic, who works closely with local schools in the youth services branch of the Cornwall Community Police Service; Dr. Beth Pollack, a neuropsychologist who works with the Children's Treatment Center and at Queen's University; and Allie Lewis, a local mental health counselor.

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Attendees, who included parents, educators, mental health professionals, local labour leaders, and other interested community members then broke into smaller groups to discuss issues of interest. These included the impact of class size, supports for students with special needs, mental health issues, violence in schools, and standardized testing in Ontario schools. The evening concluded with a presentation by local President Erin Blair, who explained how shortfalls in the education funding formula over the past two decades have shortchanged students, and drew attendees'attention to ETFO's Building Better Schools initiative.

Details from the event's small group discussions are recorded here: Thoughts from the ETFO-UCL Community Forum in Cornwall

Made with Padlet

A local newspaper featured the event in this article: http://www.standard-freeholder.com/2017/12/01/lots-of-ideas-at-cornwall-education-forum-but-no-quick-fixes

Upper Grand Occasional Teacher Local

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Proposal for Health and Safety Professional Development
January 26, 2016
The Situation: In the Provincial Collective Bargaining settlement, ETFO was granted $600,000 for Health and Safety Professional Development for Occasional Teachers.
The issue: The amount to be allocated to each board had not been calculated and time was ticking.
The Resolution: Upper Grand Occasional Teacher VP made a calculation proposal.
ETFO Occasional Teacher Full Time Equivalents (FTE) = 10,506
$600,000/10,506=$57.11 per member
Upper Grand OT’s Projected share:
$57.11 X 236.5 (Upper Grand Occasional Teacher FTE’s) = $13,506
Proposed costs for a Health and Safety PD Event:
130 daily OT’s expected to turn out plus 30 new hires =160 expected participants
Option#1 (if expected participants turn out)
.5 days release X 160 participants = $115.22 X 160 = $18,435.20
$18,435.20(UGOT cost) - $13,506(Amount provided by the provincial government) = $4,929.2
Option #2 (if all participants turn out)
.5 days release X 370 participants on OT Roster = $115.22 X 370 = $42,631.40
$42,631.40 (UGOT cost) - $13,506(Amount provided by the provincial government) = $29,125

Background information to determine potential cost/savings for a PD event on a board PD day.1. Average number of FTE OT’s used per day in 2014-201521574.7 days/194 = 111FTE’s2. Number of OT’s used on April 27, 2015 = 144 jobs3. Number of OT’s used on April 28, 2014 = 116 jobs4. Potential savings on April 26, 2016 since this is a board-wide PD day120 jobs x $230.44 = $27,652.80Upper Grand ETFO Occasional Teachers are willing to:
ü Invite membershipü Organize registrationü Provide refreshmentsWe requested the UGDSB:ü Provide a venue at a school locationü Pay .5 release for all OT’s who attendThe UGDSB and the Occasional Teachers will collaborate to:ü Arrange for speakers/workshop presentersThe Victory:ü 114 OT’s attended the .5 day of paid Health and Safety training on a PD Dayü Cost to UGDSB OT’s = 114 X $ 115.22 = $13,135.08ü Amount the Ministry paid = $13,506ü The last time OT’s received paid PL was in 2010
2015-2016 Submission
When we were negotiating our 2008-2012 collective agreement we would not leave the bargaining table until we had two outstanding items in our collective agreement.

The first item, we refused to budge on, was language that would give Long Term Occasional (LTO) teaching assignments to those who were currently on the Occasional Teacher List. Many of our members were irritated and upset as people were getting hired right out of teachers college and based on who they knew. If we weren't successful, in getting this language, Principals would continue to hire anyone they wanted for that LTO assignment i.e. family/friends. If we were successful this language would ensure that occasional teachers on our list, provided they had the qualifications, would be hired for LTO positions. Unknown to us, this language helped considerably in the implementation of regulation 274.

The second item that we demanded was that an LTO teacher qualify to receive benefits after 80 days of work. If we were to get this it would be huge for our members as we had no language for LTO's to get benefits!!

After a very difficult round of negotiations we were pleasantly surprised when the board agreed to both of our demands in June of 2009. However, the board wanted some time to adjust to hiring from the Occasional Teacher list so this didn't come in to effect until September 1, 2011.

Here is the language, for both gains, in our collective agreement 2008-2012:

Article 16 – Long Term Occasional Teaching Assignments
16:02 - (b) Effective September 1, 2011 positions will be filled from the O.T. list provided that three or more Occasional Teachers whose names are on the Occasional Teacher list (now known as a roster) apply for a Long Term Occasional teaching assignment and are qualified for the position, the following shall apply. Only those Occasional Teachers whose names are on the Occasional Teacher List shall be hired for long term occasional teaching assignments provided that they have the required qualifications for the position and have noted on the application that he or she is currently on the Elementary Occasional Teacher List and is available to work.

Article 30 – Benefits
30:01 – (a) Occasional Teachers who have completed an assignment or assignments equivalent to 80 consecutive FTE days and have a further FTE assignment shall become eligible for extended health and dental benefits on the same basis as regular Elementary Teachers. (It is understood that a break in service of up to 5 consecutive days and/or July/August will be considered as continuous service).

As a result of these gains, we had our Occasional Teacher (OT) members in a better position to gain an LTO position, unless they didn't have specific qualifications i.e. French. By having LTO positions hired from our list, our members obtained experience which helped them get contract positions. However, for contract positions the board could still hire anyone they wanted but they were more likely to hire someone who already had many LTO's, with the board. This success also helped stop hiring based on who you knew. Furthermore, we have what is called a capped list. For example, if we have 1000 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) contract teachers the board could only have 370 FTE occasional teachers on the OT list. With language in place to hire only from the OT list, if we have 370 FTE members and they hire 30 for LTO positions then there are now 340 FTE members available for daily work. This increases the amount of available work for those members. If our list of occasional teachers isn't sufficient to meet the amount of work because of LTO hiring, the Board can go ahead and hire more OT's, but only after consulting with the local president. Once the LTO's position ends they can come back to our list and if the board had hired anyone new, while teachers were covering a LTO, that would potentially go over our cap when the LTO returned to our list. If that did happen then hiring would stop until a time when through attrition the number falls below the cap.

Finally, a huge gain for our LTO members is that they are able to receive benefits after 80 days of work where before they had to pay 100% of the cost to get benefits. Those. LTO's, who qualify only pay for 5% of the benefits.

Two huge gains for our local!!!

Upper Grand Teacher Local

Picket Line Strength
with: UGETFO,
Guelph & District Labour Council, and Workers United Local 2641

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On September 30, 2014, Workers United Local 2641 turned down the Company’s 3rd offer and the 28 employees set up their picket line. They were on strike.

The Company brought in replacement workers (SCABS) for 3 days. The members watched as security guards escorted them into the building. News of this reached the Local Labour Council and we mobilized to support our Brothers and Sisters. Early the next morning when a white van carrying 10 SCABS arrived, the line was ready. Members of the Labour Council, other unions and allies held that line so that the SCAB van could not pass. It idled there for more than 2 hours and then left. No SCABS crossed the line that day. external image urImHpzCog0nocxPmacGGo1rxK4aJoCCHQL6k4YU8zYONUyqv2cQvcU5teksPi-8boVumPYb11MnLjrHWhfRobvN6zx_5raZUgYo7LJYdzTxyyxIbQa1cX-Fv8WhdejWaghTnsE
The energy that morning was electric. The look on the faces of the striking members when their Brothers and Sisters from other unions stood with them was very emotional. They could not believe that people were there to support them. As more and more union flags and signs arrived, local 2641’s moral was rejuvenated. When I spoke to the members of 2641 and told them that I was an ETFO member, they were astounded that a teacher would walk the line with them in solidarity. “We are all Unionists and there is strength in numbers”, I replied.

I was a very proud UGETFO member that day. Helping Brothers and Sisters in a struggle is an important part of being a union activist. I have walked a few picket lines before, but being able to stop the SCABS from entering a workplace was inspiring and reaffirming. This seemingly simple action of walking across a driveway and not letting anyone into the factory changed the course of the worker’s lives. The Company came back to the table and offered an agreement that was later accepted.
ETFO was there. I was there.
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At the outset of September 2014, a focus on determining exactly how much time members from the Upper Grand ETFO Local were given to eat lunch, was initiated. The goal was to determine if members were indeed receiving 40 min. of uninterrupted lunch each day.

The Local Struggle:

Simply put, some schools would like to hold on to the Unbalanced Nutrition Breaks.
Some schools have their first nutrition break for 30 min. and their Second Nutrition Break is scheduled for 50 min.

At Issue: Members do not have the Collectively Bargained 40 min. of Uninterrupted Lunch that had been mutually agreed, signed and collectively negotiated.

The Issue as Evidenced in the Local Collective Agreement__
To quote our 2008-2012 Upper Grand Collective Agreement:
Article 12.05 on pg. 35-36 states that:

“Lunch Break [Section]12.05

Each Teacher shall be entitled to not less than forty (40) continuous minutes for lunch free from supervisory or teaching duties. This shall occur during the interval beginning forty (40) minutes prior to the student lunch period and ending forty minutes after the student lunch period. (pg. 35-36).

Resolving The ISSUE
Past and Ongoing Efforts
  • Chief Negotiator/Staff Officer has been Collecting Data since September on the matter
  • The issue of a 40 min. uninterrupted period for lunch, available to every member was
  • brought forth and emphasized at Steward Training.
  • Board claims to have corrected all lunch issues of members this impacted
  • Follow-Up Survey is going out to members

  • Given the lost lunch time of some members, our Local negotiated pay back either a) in time or b) in money for those members
  • Some administrators have paid back the time owed to member, while others have not.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the issue continues.

Early Learning Program Class Size Grievance - 2010


In September of 2010, Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) staffed the Early Childhood Program (ELP) classes at a levels above what was outlined in our Collective Agreement 2008-2012.

From the Collective Agreement (CA), article 13.01, for kindergarten to grade 3 it states the following:

20 maximum for no less than 90% of the classes and 23 maximum for no more than 10% of the classes.

In addition to Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs), UGDSB staffed the ELP on the basis of one teacher per 26 students on average. The union raised the issue. The board did not change their position. Our Local, UGETFO filed a grievance stating that the board failed to implement the required class size maximum number of students in schools where the Early Learning Program (“ELP”) was implemented.

The grievances went through the three stages. None of these attempts at resolution were successful in resolving the issue. As a result, this situation went to arbitration.

A hearing was held on December 9, 2010.


The board, among its arguments, attempted to label the JK program different from the SK--and that the two were not part of “kindergarten” as a whole. This argument was not successful. In the decision, it was noted that there was ‘no evidence supportive of an intention of the parties to deferentially treat JK and SK for class size purposes’.

The arbitrator concluded that class size maxima for kindergarten referred to both JK and SK programs. As a result, the arbitrator found that the Board had breached Article 13.01 of the Collective Agreement.

As a result of the imposition, the union was awarded a sum of about $200000. This was calculated by determining how many teachers’ jobs were affected by the increased kindergarten class sizes. In addition, teachers affected by this situation were awarded lieu time.

UGETFO executive decided to dedicate the amount awarded into a fund special fund called the ELP Grievance Fund. The fund has been made available to all full or part-time Upper Grand Elementary Contract Teachers for the purpose of professional development of members. These funds are for union use and must address the needs of two or more members with final approval to be determined by the executive.

To date, the fund has benefited members by allowing for the following programs to be delivered to members:

  • CURB KIT (Common Use Resources for Bullying: A Prevention Toolkit for all Classrooms)
  • Social Justice Begins With Me (2013)
  • Tech: Balance and Boundaries
  • Additional school specific programming

Upper Grand ETFO Local-
Report Cards and Access To Technology:

The Upper Grand ETFO local has made progress with report card writing days and with access to technology for teachers in order to complete report cards.

Our local has been able to negotiate 2 full days of report card writing for its members. Effective 2010-2011 it was agreed upon, through a letter of understanding, with the Board, that one full day (1.0) prior to the first reporting period, one-half day (0.5) prior to the second reporting period and one-half day (0.5) prior to the third reporting period would be designated for the purpose of assessment and completion of report cards. It was then agreed upon, through another letter of understanding, that effective in the 2011-2012 school year that the time designated for the purpose of assessment and completion of report cards before the first reporting period and second reporting period be switched. One half day (0.5) would now be designated prior to the first reporting period and one full day (1.0) would be designated prior to the second reporting period.

An issue that came up surrounding report cards was that teachers in our Board were having a hard time having access to technology, at the worksite, in order to complete report cards. There were not enough computers at a worksite for teachers to complete report cards. A letter of understanding between Upper Grand ETFO local and the Board, in 2008, has allowed teachers to choose to work away from her/his worksite for the time designated for the purpose of assessment and evaluation and completion of report cards provided she/he gives the Principal advance notice.

Our local continues to struggle with the reliability and access to the report card program. Members continue to voice their concerns with this issue and these issues have been brought to the Board’s attention by our Upper Grand Local team.

UPPER GRAND ETFO Members Support Guelph OPSEU Local 291

November 15, 2014:
The Community Mental Health Workers in Guelph (OPSEU 291) were on strike. As always, our Upper Grand ETFO members were there to show our support and solidarity to our brothers and sisters. We joined the OPSEU members out in front of the Homewood Health Centre to walk the picket line.
In addition to walking the line, our Guelph Labour Council also donated funds to help support the striking workers. This is a great example of how ETFO demonstrates its solidarity with others in the labour movement.

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Waterloo Occasional Teacher Local

Waterloo Region Occasional Teachers' Local

We know it's not perfect, but we have come a long way in the last few rounds of collective bargaining. In comparing our current CA with the one from 1998 we can identify just some areas which should be of interest!

The Way We Were 1998
The Way We Are
  • allows for non-certified OTs
  • no uncertifieds
  • 15 days to LTO
  • 11 days to LTO
  • no probation period
  • 10 day probation period
  • no cap on OT list
  • capped list
  • 30 minute lunch
  • 40 minute lunch
  • 3 day max bereavement leave
  • up to 5 days bereavement leave
  • No Mat leave
  • Top up of 8 weeks mat leave
  • No access to board benefits
  • Access to Board benefits
  • No language regarding postings of LTOs
  • Seniority Hiring
  • EI - 1 day = 7 hours
  • EI - 1 day = 8 hours
  • Sick days prorated and limited
  • 11 at 100% and 60 at 90%

OT Roster to OT List - The Struggles for many...

With the implementation of Regulation 274 brought new challenges for many occasional teacher locals. How does it work? What will it look like in our board? How can an occasional teacher on the occasional teacher roster get a spot on the coveted “LIST”? All of these questions were asked during the year of implementation.

While other boards created a long term plan, they knew what they thought it would look like, how they would replenish their list when depleted, and other questions. In Waterloo region, as of June 16th 2015, our list had only been opened once, in 2012.

For 3 years, our local asked and fought for our members to have the right to even apply to the coveted list. It took a lot of hard work on the part of our president and persistence but on June 16th, 2015, we signed a promise from the board and a solution to their having to interview (on our best guesstimate) 700 individuals who would have met the criteria (on the OT roster for 10 or more months, and worked a minimum of 20 days in the last 10 months).

As part of the agreement, members who had completed a single successful LTO for 170 days or more in the 2014-2015 school year would be placed onto the LTO list, all other members would be able to apply and interview for a position on the list. As of writing this post, the board opened up the applications to the list but the interviews have not yet taken place.

As a local, we look forward to the day when the language of the Regulation are more clearly worded, giving school boards more direction into the meaning and perceived process, what it should look like.

Waterloo Region Occasional Teachers’ Local Receives 2014 ETFO Member Service and Engagement Award!

The award recognizes the excellence of up to two locals in serving members, keep members informed, and involve members in the local.

The Waterloo Region Occasional Teachers’ Local has found the key to motivating and engaging their members to be active participants and benefit from all that their union has to offer,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “They demonstrate that when ETFO members stand together, both politically and professionally, we are strong advocates for the teaching profession and a high-quality education system.”

As a recipient of this award, WROTL has shown dedication to its membership through ensuring member access to the local executive and to local resources. Along with New Member Meetings, this local offers a wide range of workshops throughout the year, regular meet-and-greets at local coffee shops and a Member Development Fund that helps support members wishing to participate in professional courses or activities!

Waterloo Region DECE Local

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51 Breithaupt Street, Suite 100, Kitchener Ontario, N2H 5G5

Telephone: 519-804-9782external image 204519-804-9782external image 204519-804-9782external image 204519-804-9782

Since DECE’s were brought aboard to join teachers in Kindergarten we have experienced many struggles and inequality. Our school board implemented two different shifts, one being a 6 hour shift and the other a 7 hour shift which caused a division amongst the members. A survey was sent out to members where they were given a chance to highlight the top issues that they would like to see resolved during the round of negotiations. Our members strongly felt that 7 hours for all members was worth fighting for. In March of 2016, our collective bargaining table team was able to negotiate locally for 7 hours for all. We were able to accomplish this by presenting different scenarios and using existing language in our collective agreement. Although it was deemed that the working day could not be touched, we already had members working 7 hours so we were not altering or creating the working day. It would have been different had we not had some members already working 7 hours. It was the last issue dealt with and after a full day of debate we accomplished our goal. It provided unity and equality for all members and took away any preconceived notion of hierarchy by members. It really levelled the playing field for our members. However, it did not come without a price. We had to give up our Professional Learning on PD Days in order to run the Extended Day Program in the schools on those days. Negotiating is a give and take so we live to fight another day to resolve more of our many issues moving forward.

Waterloo Region Designated Early Childhood Educators Local

For the start of the 2010-2011 school year the province of Ontario implemented Phase 1 of 5 of the Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program (FDELKP) where Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) would be partnered with a teacher in the kindergarten classroom to deliver the new Full Day Kindergarten curriculum. Today this curriculum document is still a draft document that the kindergarten teams are working from. The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) hired approximately sixty RECEs in the first year of implementation, and assigned them the title of Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs).

In the fall of 2010, the WRDSB DECEs were approached by many unions, voting commenced and in December of 2010, the WRDECEs joined with ETFO!! Provincial. ETFO held the first New Member Meeting on January 19, 2011 at the teacher local in Kitchener and the first executive was formed on February 9, 2011 at the very first Annual General Meeting. At this time the local office was opened in the basement of the President’s house. This Executive developed the local constitution with the help of Colleen Lee from ETFO Provincial, where the membership voted and approved this constitution on March 21, 2011. Then the Collective Bargaining Committee and table team was selected. Bargaining, on behalf of the permanent and occasional DECEs, for the first Collective Agreement began in June of 2011. With negotiations happening over the next year and a half, the CB Table Team arrived at the very first Collective Agreement on August 30, 2012. It was a great relief that the CB Table Team was able to secure the Agreement before the August 31, 2012 deadline of Bill 115. This first CA was a great victory for the local and retroactive to September 1, 2010.

At the Local Annual General Meeting held in June of 2012, it was another election year for the Executive. Tiffany T stepped down as Vice-President and because no nominations had been received, Annelies H was appointed as Vice-President with Lisa T being appointed as MAL(a).

The WRDSB was the first school board to implement and offer the Extended Day Program within their schools in 2010, offering before and after school programming for JKs, SKs, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students. Winter Break and March Break were incorporated starting Winter Break 2011. This created three work shifts for the DECEs working within the WRDSB: 7:00am-1:30pm (6 hours paid), 11:30am-6:00pm (6 hours paid) and a core day shift (35 minutes before bell time – 35 minutes after bell time – 7 hours paid).

In October of 2012, the WRDSB changed the morning Extended Day shift to be from 7:00am-2:30pm (7 hours paid). You can imagine how the afternoon Extended Day DECEs were feeling as now they were the only group to be receiving 1 hour less pay/day than their fellow DECEs!!

On Tuesday December 18, 2012, the DECEs of WRDSB participated in their first one day strike in opposition of Bill 115. They stood alongside their fellow ETFO members on the picket lines.

In the spring of 2013 a logo was needed for the WRDECE Local, so a contest was put on for the members to come up with a logo for the local, no members participated so the executive made the decision and the logo we use today was the one that was chosen by the Executive. In the fall of 2013 the WRDSB approached the Local about having representation on a DECE Management Committee, the President and Executive Member(b) now sit on this Committee.

In the spring of 2014, the WRDSB announced that come September 2014 they would be changing the 7 hour Extended Day shift to the afternoon; so morning went back to 7:00am-1:30pm and the afternoon shift became 10:30am-6:00pm. More upset and chaos ensued and some members had to change childcare arrangements while others chose to resign their positions.

This upset some members and they felt disappointed that it was not seven hours for all instead of a re-allocation of hours. After many months of answering members questions about the CA and the policies of the WRDSB and ensuring that the Local did NOT make this decision, the Collective Bargaining Table Team will continue to try for seven hours for all when they start to negotiate again; the members regained their faith in the Executive.

At the Local General Annual Meeting in June 2014 only two members applied to the executive, so therefore Lisa T was appointed Vice-President from MAL(a) and Susan G and Kim K joined the Executive with no voting required. At this AGM a levy of $3/pay to support Professional Development and Learning for members and executive release was proposed and passed by the membership. A responsibility allowance of 10% for the President of the WRDECE Local was also proposed and passed by the membership. The executive is still currently trying to work out the logistics of delivering this allowance to the President.

The executive has seen some changes over the past few years:

Feb 2011-June 2012
July 2012-June 2014
July 2014-June 2016
President = Jenn W
President = Jenn W
President = Jenn W
VPresident = Tiffany T
VPresident = Annelies H
VPresident = Lisa T
Treasurer = Mardi C
Treasurer = Mardi C
Treasurer = Mardi C
Secretary = Gwenn M
Secretary = Gwenn M
Secretary = Susan G
MAL(a) = Annelies H
MAL(a) = Lisa T
Ex. Member(a) = Kim K
MAL(b) = Tracy B
MAL(b) =Tracy B
Ex. Member(b) = Tracy B

Local Executive 2014/2015

The Executive has been very busy over the past few years starting, implementing and growing the Local to the point it is at today.

The WRDECE Local has many active and newly developing committees, these consist of: Collective Bargaining Committee, Budget Committee, Finance Committee, All Member Meetings Committee, Professional Development and Learning Committee, Health & Safety Committee, Political Action Committee, Elections Committee, Equity and Social Justice Committee, Status of Women Committee and the Social Committee.

The PD/L Committee, now into its third year, has offered many workshops this 2014-2015 school year; Brain Gym, Effective Communication in Groups, Documentation, Pregnancy & Parental Leave, OTIP and looking forward to a Thinking it Through Book Club in April and hosting our second PD Day (Dec 20/13 being the first) on April 17,2015 for a half day PD!
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PD 2015 PD 2015

The Collective Bargaining Table Team negotiated its first Collective Agreement on August 30, 2012. The WRDECE Local was one of six locals who were allowed to bargain in the 2013-2014 school year and the members voted to accept the second Collective Agreement in March 2014, expiring on August 31, 2014.

As an Executive, it was decided in the spring of 2014 to put together some job responsibilities so that the members would understand the responsibilities of their Executive Members and to be well informed if they chose to run for a position within the executive at that years Local Annual General Meeting.

Currently, the Waterloo Region District School Board has more than 500 DECEs employed, either as permanent or occasional members.

During the time that our most recent elected Executive member was a student of Union School (2016-2017), she decided that her practicum would be the creation of a Stewards program for the WRDECE Local. As a local we were struggling with how to distribute and gather information within the membership in an efficient and effective manner. We also felt that empowering our membership with knowledge and training would increase a sense of community and involvement in their union. Through some brainstorming and discussion, the Executive agreed that the creation of school stewards would be a great addition. It took a lot of work within our local level with direct guidance and support on the provincial level.

In September 2017 the WRDECE Local was proud to officially roll out the DECE ETFO School Stewards program! We have already offered 2 rounds of training for the members who have shown an interest in taking on this leadership opportunity. After the training is taken, the new Stewards are given a binder that is treated as a resource for all DECE's looking for guidance or information on who to contact for any given issue. Currently we have DECE Stewards in approximately half of the schools within the WRDSB. We continue to offer training to get more members involved.

Stewards in our schools has not only mobilized our membership but it has also given our Executives a faster more efficient way to collect and share information. Stewards can easily gather and share any data that is needed. Stewards are also often seen as a less intimidating ETFO leader that the members, who may be less involved, can approach comfortably.

Image result for union steward memes
Image result for union steward memes

Waterloo Teacher Local

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Representing over 2500 elementary educators throughout the Waterloo region, ETFO-WR is proud to have a variety of committees, services, and opportunity that enhance and protect the work experience of our members.

One of the local’s crowning achievement has been the building of our Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2009. The building features:
  • stormwater detention pond to improve stormwater quality and quantity
  • bike racks and shower facilities for cyclists
  • low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • native, drought resistant plants for landscaping
  • rainwater cistern to supply water for toilet and urinal flushing
  • ground source heat pump for heating and cooling.

York Region Occasional Teacher Local

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York Region Teacher Local


In the 2012/2013 bargaining term ETFO-YR worked hard to get the message out that we would not accept this Liberal Government's complete disrespect for teachers.
We actively participated in protests including:
  • The August 28th, 2012 rally at Queens Park to protest Bill 115,
  • A silent walk out during the Quest Conference when Minister of Education Laurel Broten was introduced to speak,
  • The rally at Westin Harbour Castle on November 20, 2012 during the Liberal retirement dinner for Greg Sorbara,
  • The Liberal leadership candidates meeting in Newmarket on December 3rd, 2012,
  • The mass protest in front of the Liberal Party Leadership convention at Maple Leaf Gardens on Jan. 25th & 26th, 2013
ETFO-YR began the first stage of work to rule on November 19th, 2012 (First local to begin job action). We participated in a one day strike on December 13th, 2012.

It was a difficult year for teachers. We were made to pay for cancelled Liberal programs and prop up a weakening economy. On June 21, the MOU was ratified.
While ETFO provincial was negotiating, York Region was bargaining with our Board so that:
June 25, 2013: ETFO-YR reaches a local agreement with YRDSB which includes the elimination of the Attendance Management Program, job description for FDK teachers, a pilot and review of holding in school team meetings exclusively during the instructional day, language around the use of unauthorized electronic recordings, and limits on the number of 3/4 split grade classes.
June 27, 2013: ETFO-YR members ratify the local agreement. It was the only ETFO local in Ontario to negotiate and hold a ratification vote. We were able to gain improvements in the working environment.

BUT the new provincially-negotiated LTD plan was more expensive than our current plan, so members saw a reduction in their pay.
We were able to continue the tradition of meaningful negotiations followed by ratification votes by members despite the “economic crisis”. We stood up for our democratic principles and that is always a success.


Lastly we were able to work with YRDSB to find the funds so our members would be paid on the second 'unpaid' day of March 7th, 2014. We were the only local to have this day as a paid day.

A Victory In York Region

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After a tumultuous process in the previous contract negotiations of 1998, in which York Region was the first ever public school system to be locked out by their board, the local Collective Bargaining Team for ETFO-York Region began to negotiate for a new contract in the late spring of 2000. After meeting several times throughout the summer of 2000, the board and ETFO-YR were no closer to coming to an agreement. On October 2, 2000, a general meeting for members and strike vote was held. As a result of that meeting, the lack of movement by the board, and the needs of the local, the elementary teachers of York Region voted 91% in favour of a strike.
With the increased pressure of a strike vote, the board and union met again, for fifteen hours but no progress was made to move the two parties closer to an agreement, and so, on October 23, 2000, a no board report was filed. In the background, Hamilton-Wentworth ETFO was embroiled in full strike action which eventually led to political intervention and back to work legislation being imposed. The ETFO-YR bargaining team with the Hamilton strike playing out before them, decided to adopt an imaginative new strategy: an incrementally increasing work to rule designed to apply pressure to the Board at no cost to the ETFO-YR members. This included, again a new innovation to strike tactics never before implemented anywhere, not putting comments on report cards. With further meetings between the board and the negotiating team, it became very apparent that the board was not willing to bend on any of the terms that had been brought to the table, and in fact, were negotiating for strips to previous contracts. As a result, a General Meeting was held on November 9, 2000, and work to rule began. The work to rule included, for the first time, no comments on report cards. The work to rule was incrementally increased on November 20, 2000, and then again on December 4, 2000.
Teachers in York Region stood strong for their collective rights, and on December 18, 2000 they were called to a Mass Meeting where a new tentative agreement was shared. A ratification vote was held on December 21, 2000 and members votes 91% in favour of the tentative agreement.
The 2000 round of negotiations continues to have implications for York Region Elementary teachers today, and is a year that can be considered one of the largest victories won by a local. Not only was it the first time that comments were not put onto an Elementary Report card due to a work-to-rule, a strategy that has been adopted province wide ever since, but the local itself gained a huge victory. As a result of the strong and imaginative negotiating skills of the local bargaining team, the strength of the York Region membership, and the willingness of members to stand together, York Region teachers were, in addition to a 5.5% wage increase over two years, able to achieve language in their collective agreement which eliminated teaching vice-principals in their local. As well, York Region teachers have, since 2000 had a cap on supervision time of 60 minutes which, even to this day, continues to be the best supervision language contained in a collective agreement. York Region has shown time and time again, what we can achieve when we stand strong for what we believe, together.

ETFO-YR in the News:
"Welcoming Refugee Children and Their Families into Our Schools"

With millions of refugees been driven out of Syria by the Syrian Civil War and knowing that Ontario would receive 10,000 refugees by the end of December 2015, York Region’s elementary teachers and staff looked at all possible ways to ease the transition of incoming Syrian refugee students.

In February 2016 in a collaboration between the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario – York Region (ETFO-YR), and the York Region District School Board, teachers and staff took part in a workshop to learn more about how to help with the influx of Syrian refugees. The workshop consisted of an open-minded approach with discussions focussing on language barriers, differing educational requirements, and social differences. Among the topics covered in this first workshop, there was one foci "outside of the school" that was also addressed - it dealt with assisting families with their integration into York Region.

[E]verybody is working together to assist everybody. We’re assisting our teachers, and our teachers are assisting not only the incoming students, but the existing student body with acceptance, understanding, and integration,” said ETFO-YR Executive Member Lynda Hockley. Check out ETFO-YR in the News

York Region teachers recognize that they often do more than simply teaching the three Rs – they provide guidance and support; hence York Region teachers are committed to not only assisting their students with their academic needs, but with fostering their social and emotional wellness too.

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In addition to Growing Success as a report card guide, ETFO-YR (York Region local) has some very clear and unique language in our collective agreement. One of the terms outlined in the section on report cards is L.E.8.2 which says, “Submission dates for report cards shall be established in consultation with teachers no later than September 30 each year.” Another significant term is L.E. 8.3 which reads, “Expectations for report cards in the area of content and format shall be established in consultation with teachers following the staff meeting in October and no later than October 15.” Having this language in our collective agreement is significant, as many locals do not have something like this in their agreements. It allows for teacher voice and input, and encourages a spirit of unity and mutual respect within the school.

With the increase in administrators lacking emotional intelligence and more toxic professional climates, having language like this is especially important. Too many administrators are micro-managing and making unilateral decisions with little or no thought given to the well-being of staff.

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Typically, the decision around submission dates for report cards occurs during our first staff meeting in September. There are guidelines provided by the board, and we discuss possible dates together within these guidelines. Dates are then agreed upon and established for the entire year. This year, we faced an unprecedented breach of contract in many of our schools.

On October 15th, an email was sent out to stewards from our president to remind us that, as per our collective agreement, if no expectations regarding content and format had been set, including consultation with staff, it was too late for this year and there would not be any school based expectations for this school year.

More details about these terms in our collective agreement were also discussed with stewards during Steward training sessions.

As Stewards were well-informed about these parameters, including information on the Board memo, when due dates for progress reports weren’t being adhered to in some schools, the Stewards contacted our local to report their concerns. After receiving these reports, our president launched an investigation into the matter.


Stewards were asked to report any schools where the Principal had failed to meet the requirements of consulting and the September 30th deadline. 40 schools were reported by their Stewards to have not complied with the collective agreement. Consequently a grievance was filed by ETFO-YR on behalf of members in those schools over L.E.8.2 due to a lack of consultation with teachers around due dates and failure to meet the deadline.

The Board upheld the grievance, and, as a result, the report card submission dates for the 40 schools that made the reports were revised to be no earlier than Monday February 5, 2018 for the Term 1 Reports and no earlier than Wednesday June 13, 2018 for Term 2. These revised dates provide teachers with 2-3 extra days to work on reports.


Members in the 40 affected schools were thrilled to have the union’s support. Many contacted the local office to extend their gratitude for this victory. There is enough stress with report cards without adding the frustration and challenges that come with feeling ignored or powerless. To know that we have a voice and are respected is an important key to a positive professional climate. This victory, though it may seem small, is huge. It sent a strong message to the board, and also to teachers. Our union cares and our union will fight for us and support us. Victories such as this give members an increased confidence in the union. Hopefully going forward more members will feel comfortable in approaching the union when issues arise.

Nothing in our collective agreement has been gained overnight, but rather slowly over time. This success is a step forward. Every victory brings us closer to more change for the better.

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In the fall of 2015, our local executive took the opportunity to reflect on how things were working in our local and our executive, beginning with an executive retreat in September. As we worked through this process we found the committee structure in our small local was ineffective; we had too many committees and rarely accomplished anything.
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ETFO Logo small (1).jpg

Continuing with our discussions and reflection in October at an Executive Planning Session. We looked at each of the committees and what they each do and discussed, questioned, and problem solved around how we might reorganise our local committees to make them more effective and work for us. We decided that instead of members and chairs of different committees working on separate projects, we had to merge some committees to refocus our efforts. We decided that the Political Action Committee would be renamed the Political Action/Public Relations Committee, the Status of Women and Equity and Social Justice Committees should become one committee and the Awards, Social, and New Member Committees should be amalgamated into a Members Engagement Committee. This post focuses on the newly created Member Engagement Committee.

The Member Engagement Committee has a relatively broad mandate, as you can see from the Terms of Reference and Specific Duties listed below, but there can be considerable overlap

Terms of Referenc

After Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals went on the offensive and Ontario teachers entered a round of bargaining that would eventually lead to rotating strikes, our school board began a practice that would require teachers to provide documentation for absences that occurred on “special days” throughout the year. These could be days prior to a long weekend or extended holidays, such as Christmas or March Break, or single days with special significance, one such day being Black Friday, the day following the American Thanksgiving holiday. The unspoken reason being that teachers might be likely to take this day off to benefit from Black Friday sales in the US due in part to our close proximity to the American border, an abuse of our sick leave allotments. It wasn’t enough that our banked sick days had been stolen from us, now they were going to police our days under the new system.
So, the practice of requiring documentation, for example a doctor’s note, remained in place for several years. Our superintendent of human resources was staunchly anti-union and very difficult (read impossible) to work with. Many issues in the board resulted in grievances being files, and many of those went to arbitration due to his abject refusal to work with our local leaders in the best interest of both educators and students.

The retirement of this superintendent in the fall of 2016 brought about a significant change in the working relationship between our released officers and the Human Resources department. However, the practice of requiring documentation, which wasn’t an official HR policy, was still being followed by administrators. Another issue around this demand was that teachers were unaware that administrators could not ask for medical notes and that requests for them must come directly from HR. In all honesty many administrators themselves are unclear about this, or at least pretend to be. Perhaps they are just preying on the lack of awareness, but I’d rather hope that it is the former. Therefore, because of this ignorance of actual policy, teachers were complying with these demands. So, the one-size-fits-all approach to attendance management continued despite being grossly unfair.

Black Friday 2017 was almost upon us and this year, like others before, teachers needed days off. There was a twist this year. Two teachers needed family care days. Their administrator demanded doctor’s notes from the doctors of the family members. Trusting her gut, one of the members contacted the school steward who informed her that the administrator could not ask for this kind of documentation. However, shortly after speaking with the administrator, the teacher received an email that had been forwarded from HR through the administrator, requesting the documentation.

The steward, who had quickly contacted the local released officers, discovered that the school board could not ask for medical documentation of a family member, nor were the members required to supply it. When the member returned to the steward with the email in hand, the steward promptly informed her of this. The administrator still would not let this go, despite being made aware of the illegality of the request and the stress she must have known it was causing the members.

With this new piece of information, and the knowledge that the exact same email was sent to another teacher in the school, the steward contacted the office yet again. After the conversation with the steward, Vice President Brian Barker immediately got in contact with the superintendent of Human Resources to discuss the issue. She was apparently unaware that this had been a practice in the past and promised to look into it. Our local released officers were unwilling to budge on this and pushed to have each case looked at on an individual basis. They suggested that human resources look at the absence history of an educator and, if there seemed to be a pattern of taking these days off, request the documentation if it was booked as a sick day. However, if there was no pattern, or the teachers had barely used any sick days at all, as was the case with the teachers above, then there would be no request. In no circumstance were they to request documentation for non-employees.

Black Friday 2017 marked the end of the blanket approach to medical documentation. The local office shared the news that the Human Resources superintendent had informed her staff that employee absences would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that blanket letters requiring documentation would no longer be sent out. It marked a victory for the right to privacy and dignity for all members and their families here in Niagara.