Probably very few of the general public are aware of the fact that the Rainy River secondary school occasional teachers (supply teachers) are on strike against the local public school board.
Probably even fewer care that they have been working without a contract since August, 2004. They are very few in number, but they do fill a critical void when regular teachers are absent for any reason or length of time.
As fully-qualified teachers, they almost always are called in to replace a teacher within their own area of expertise so that quality instruction is maintained even during the regular teacher’s absence.
The board has publicly stated the occasional teachers are essential to the delivery of a complete and comprehensive curriculum offered by the schools. However, the essence of that statement is not reflected in the historical realty of the board’s treatment of the occasional teachers.
Over the past seven years, while the regular teachers have received 21 percent pay increases, the occasional teachers received five percent along with deteriorating working conditions.
The occasional teachers have been negotiating for months now and despite the fact they are not asking for more money than the board already has settled with the local elementary teachers, and despite the fact their table team has offered several compromises to get to a resolution, the board refuses to budge on linking the O.T.’s salary to a percentage of the lowest possible paid position on the regular teachers’ grid.
If the board had been treating the occasional teachers fairly and with respect, there would be no need for this clause. But the lessons learned from the study of history reveal that if you don’t address the mistakes from your past, you are condemned to repeat them.
If you have children in any of the three high schools run by this board, you should be very concerned. If this situation continues to deteriorate any further, ultimately the students will suffer the most as occasional teachers no longer are available or willing to work.
Fort Frances, Ont.