Teacher talks going well

While it’s still early in the game, negotiations are going well between the public school board and the local secondary school teachers’ union.
“We’re very pleased with how things are going,” said Andrew Hallikas, chief negotiator for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation local District 5B. “We’re definitely off to a good start.”
The bargaining team first met with the Rainy River District School Board on Oct. 5 to exchange briefs.
They met again on Monday and Tuesday of this week to begin the bargaining process.
“We’re very pleased with the board team,” Hallikas said, noting they have strong knowledge of issues facing secondary teachers.
“The tone of the meeting was very positive. There was lots of good discussion and dialogue. We had a very productive couple of days,” he added.
The board’s director of education, Warren Hoshizaki, agreed.
“Things are progressing well. We’re going through the issues one by one,” he said.
While bargaining continues, neither side could discuss what those issues are.
Hallikas noted the OSSTF is in a different situation than the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which is in provincial takeover, meaning the central office directs the bargaining for all locals, and sets out certain goals to be met province-wide.
“We don’t have any set provincial goals that have to be met at this time,” Hallikas said, adding that is a good thing for teachers.
Teachers working in Northwestern Ontario “have unique situations and unique problems,” he said, that often cannot be resolved with the same solutions that work in other parts of the province.
Not being in a situation of provincial takeover means “we can bargain for local solutions to local issues,” he noted.
“The last sets of bargaining were fairly intense,” Hallikas said, noting the previous government was “quite hostile to teachers.”
This round of bargaining differs a great deal from two years ago, he said.
“The relationship with the board is very good. It’s open, it’s honest. We’re going to work through these issues,” he noted.
Both sides will likely meet again next month.
The collective agreements for both elementary and secondary school teachers across Ontario expired on Aug. 31, 2004.