High school teachers accept new deal Board vote on ratification slated June 7

Local secondary teachers last week voted 84 percent in favour of accepting a tentative agreement reached with the Rainy River District School Board in May.
The four-year agreement will be adopted if the board ratifies it at its next regular meeting June 7.
Details of the agreement only will be released after ratification.
“We’re pleased that it passed,” said Brian Church, president of the local Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
“It’s definitely a positive factor in terms of affecting the education of our students,” said Andrew Hallikas, chief negotiator for the local OSSTF. “I think both sides are fairly pleased with the deal.”
“We’re very pleased with the agreement and the way in which both sides came together,” said Warren Hoshizaki, education director for the local public school board.
“It serves us and students well for the next three years.”
The ministry encouraged boards and teachers to seek a four-year agreement, retroactive to the expiration of the last collective agreement (Aug. 31, 2004).
Both sides announced the tentative agreement on May 18. The voting took place Friday, with 89 of the district’s 92 secondary teachers from Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Atikokan participating.
While 84 percent shows strong support for the agreement, it also shows a small percentage of teachers are not satisfied, Hallikas noted.
“It does show there are still areas in the collective agreement that need work,” he said. “We just won’t be able to work on them at this time.”
“Everybody had certain issues that were important to them,” noted Church.
These issues may be addressed in bargaining when the new collective agreement expires.
The Ministry of Education played an important role in the negotiations across the province at both the secondary and elementary level.
“There was a significant amount of provincial involvement,” Hallikas noted, adding the deal could not have been reached without the additional funding from the ministry as well as important changes in legislation.
Because the government put some restrictions on the use of the funding, both sides had to find common ground.
“We had to work creatively,” Hallikas said. “To get where we are, both sides had to make some significant movements.”
While he could not release details of the agreement, Hallikas noted there will be some differences from previous agreements.
“There were some significant changes made,” he said. “There will have to be some continued communication as we address how these changes will be applied.”
The negotiations, which began in the fall, were productive and positive, he added.
“We had very good communication at the table. We continue to have a very good working relationship with our board,” Hallikas said.
“Both sides went in with the intention of finding a way to resolve the agreement in a timely fashion,” Hoshizaki noted. “Throughout the whole negotiation, it was a very professional and positive relationship.”
“Overall, I think we’re very pleased with the result,” Church said.
In related news, local elementary teachers are scheduled to vote tomorrow on their tentative agreement with the local public school board.
They had begun a work-to-rule campaign in March, but ended it a month later after the ministry released an accord to assist in negotiations across the province.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario set a deadline of June 1. If no agreements were reached by that date, the work-to-rule campaign would resume.
The board announced the tentative agreement on May 20 and also will vote on it at its June 7 meeting.

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