Catholic elementary teachers reach tentative agreement
MUSKOKA - The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) have announced a tentative agreement was reached with the board’s elementary teachers on Friday, Dec. 14.
OECTA represents teachers at 43 elementary schools in the Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic board, including those at Monsignor Michael O’Leary Catholic School in Bracebridge and Saint Mary Catholic School in Huntsville. Details of the announced tentative agreement will not be released until the elementary teachers and the board of trustees vote on Wednesday, Dec. 19 to ratify it.
“Reaching this collective agreement with our elementary teachers is a significant milestone for our board,” said director of education Brian Beal in a press release. “Our professional elementary teachers play a key role in our Catholic schools by providing excellent faith-filled learning to our students. I congratulate the negotiation teams for their respectful and collaborative efforts in achieving this agreement.”
“We are glad to be bringing a tentative agreement back to our membership for ratification” added OECTA – elementary teachers’ president Joe Martone. “During these challenging times we were able to have some honest discussions around improving some aspects of our collective agreement. Despite government limitations, I would like to think we were able to make improvements in certain areas of our collective agreement.”
As of Friday, Dec. 14, 22 collective agreements had been reached in the 72 local Ontario English Catholic School Teachers’ Association units spread among 29 Catholic school boards across Ontario. Only four of those 22 agreements had been voted on, but all four were ratified by the membership, including the Simcoe Muskoka Occasional Teacher Bargaining Unit, where 88 per cent voted in favour of the local agreement.
Along with the occasional teachers and the elementary teachers, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board also includes an OECTA secondary teacher local. The Simcoe-Muskoka secondary teachers reached a tentative agreement with the board on Monday, Dec. 10. The board and the members of the local, who include teachers at St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School in Bracebridge, successfully ratified their agreement on Monday, Dec. 17, with 81 per cent support from the teachers.
Across the province, both elementary and secondary public boards have been unable to reach agreements with their boards, citing Bill 115, which takes away their collective bargaining rights, as a stumbling block. Both elementary and secondary teachers in the public boards have withdrawn their voluntary extracurricular activities in a work-to-rule protest of the bill, and elementary teachers are holding rotating one-day strikes, which hit Muskoka on Dec. 13.
However, Catholic teachers will not lose out by signing agreements in the midst of the public teachers’ fight. Any monetary gains achieved by teachers in the public boards will be extended to Catholic boards, according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the government and the Catholic teachers’ association last July.