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Catholic teachers reach agreement

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TORONTO—The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is now the second big teachers’ union to reach a tentative contract agreement with school boards in the past week.

No details of the deal reached this morning have been released, but the union immediately suspended a work-to-rule campaign during the ratification period.

“We appreciate the government’s efforts and those of the Catholic school trustees in reaching this tentative agreement,” OECTA president Ann Hawkins said in a statement.

“We worked hard to address the concerns of our members and believe this agreement will protect them, as well as the quality of education in our schools,” she added.

OECTA had begun a work-to-rule campaign at Bishop Belleau high school in Moosonee, which started classes a few weeks earlier than most schools, but that job action has been suspended, noted Hawkins.

Education minister Liz Sandals said the Catholic teachers’ deal “is consistent with the government’s net-zero bargaining framework,” meaning any salary increases are offset through savings elsewhere in the agreement.

“The tentative agreement is the result of hard work and the willingness of all parties to resolve difficult issues prior to the start of the school year,” she noted.

Last week, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation reached a tentative deal that included a one percent lump sum payment, plus another 1.5 percent in raises in the second year and another paid professional day.

Premier Kathleen Wynne refused to say yesterday that the high school teachers got a raise or where the savings were found elsewhere in the education system to fund their salary increases.

“We never said that there wasn’t the potential for some moderate increases,” noted Wynne.

“What we did say was that there wasn’t new money for the education sector for . . . increases in compensation.”

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, meanwhile, is scheduled to return to bargaining Sept. 1.

It has threatened to ramp up a work-to-rule campaign that started last spring if there’s no deal when classes begin a week later.

ETFO president Sam Hammond said elementary teachers won’t participate in field trips or parent-teacher meetings, but they also won’t suspend extra-curricular activities—at least not at the start of the school year.

The union representing Francophone teachers in Ontario also is in contract negotiations with school boards.

“We remain committed to bargaining throughout the remaining weeks of the summer in order to reach agreements at all tables,” said Sandals.

Ontario’s 130,000 teachers have been without contracts for more than a year.

And all four unions—even those with tentative agreements—still must negotiate local contracts with their local boards.

The Liberal government set up a new two-tier bargaining process that includes both provincial and local rounds of negotiations.

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