Province gives $2 million to teacher unions to pay for bargaining

News Oct 21, 2015 by Rob Ferguson and Kristin Rushowy Hamilton Spectator

The Ontario government has paid $1 million to each of two teacher unions to cover bargaining costs under new legislation.

The Star has confirmed a one-time payment was given to the unions representing public high school teachers as well as the province's Catholic teachers in recently negotiated collective agreements.

It is unclear if similar payouts were provided to the union representing teachers in Ontario's French-language boards. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario does not yet have a deal though a source told the Star the money "is also in play with ETFO."

On Wednesday, Education Minister Liz Sandals defended the controversial $1 million payout to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation as part of the cost of the new two-tier system, which mandates separate negotiations at the local and provincial levels under the Liberal government's Bill 122.

"This has been an unusually dragged out process," she told reporters at Queen's Park, noting "each and every clause" in contracts had to be renegotiated.

"Both the unions and the boards have had extraordinary costs because everybody is having to rent space and find venues and rooms," she added. "This will never happen again. This is the end of the transformation . . . I think of it as investing in transforming a system that didn't work."

Sandals revealed more has been paid to assist unions and school boards since provincial discussions were first held in 2004 and 2008.

But she would not release a tally or say whether all unions got the same $1 million given to the high school teacher unions in this round of bargaining – something she will consider when current talks with ETFO are concluded.

Sandals also disputed a report in Wednesday's Globe and Mail that the money to cover raises in the negotiated collected agreement with the high school teachers' union was taken from a multi-year program for hiring extra teachers to help struggling students graduate.

That program, created with the unions in 2008, resulted in the hiring of an extra 2,300 teachers "above and beyond" normal class-size ratios, with $60 million allotted to hire 600 teachers who became OSSTF members.

Sandals credited that program with boosting the overall graduation rate dramatically to 84 per cent, a level of success that prompted the government and unions to agree in 2012 that they could defer the final year of that program.

In the latest round of talks, Sandals said all sides agreed grad rates were high enough that they could cancel the program, "which actually saved us $20 million."

She insisted all 2,300 of those teachers hired under the program are still working.

"They're still there, no teachers have been cut, there have been no cuts in the classroom, there have been no cuts to spec ed," Sandals said. "It isn't an accounting trick."

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the $1 million payout to OSSTF shows the new bargaining system "has not been successful."

"Ontarians have the right to be upset," he added, saying the government should "stop using dollars that should be going to students to pay for what was a faulty negotiations process."

"They fumbled the ball from day one," charged NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, saying taxpayers are on the hook to pay for "the government's own mistakes.".

The Canadian Press

Province gives $2 million to teacher unions to pay for bargaining

News Oct 21, 2015 by Rob Ferguson and Kristin Rushowy Hamilton Spectator

The Ontario government has paid $1 million to each of two teacher unions to cover bargaining costs under new legislation.

The Star has confirmed a one-time payment was given to the unions representing public high school teachers as well as the province's Catholic teachers in recently negotiated collective agreements.

It is unclear if similar payouts were provided to the union representing teachers in Ontario's French-language boards. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario does not yet have a deal though a source told the Star the money "is also in play with ETFO."

On Wednesday, Education Minister Liz Sandals defended the controversial $1 million payout to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation as part of the cost of the new two-tier system, which mandates separate negotiations at the local and provincial levels under the Liberal government's Bill 122.

"This has been an unusually dragged out process," she told reporters at Queen's Park, noting "each and every clause" in contracts had to be renegotiated.

"Both the unions and the boards have had extraordinary costs because everybody is having to rent space and find venues and rooms," she added. "This will never happen again. This is the end of the transformation . . . I think of it as investing in transforming a system that didn't work."

Sandals revealed more has been paid to assist unions and school boards since provincial discussions were first held in 2004 and 2008.

But she would not release a tally or say whether all unions got the same $1 million given to the high school teacher unions in this round of bargaining – something she will consider when current talks with ETFO are concluded.

Sandals also disputed a report in Wednesday's Globe and Mail that the money to cover raises in the negotiated collected agreement with the high school teachers' union was taken from a multi-year program for hiring extra teachers to help struggling students graduate.

That program, created with the unions in 2008, resulted in the hiring of an extra 2,300 teachers "above and beyond" normal class-size ratios, with $60 million allotted to hire 600 teachers who became OSSTF members.

Sandals credited that program with boosting the overall graduation rate dramatically to 84 per cent, a level of success that prompted the government and unions to agree in 2012 that they could defer the final year of that program.

In the latest round of talks, Sandals said all sides agreed grad rates were high enough that they could cancel the program, "which actually saved us $20 million."

She insisted all 2,300 of those teachers hired under the program are still working.

"They're still there, no teachers have been cut, there have been no cuts in the classroom, there have been no cuts to spec ed," Sandals said. "It isn't an accounting trick."

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the $1 million payout to OSSTF shows the new bargaining system "has not been successful."

"Ontarians have the right to be upset," he added, saying the government should "stop using dollars that should be going to students to pay for what was a faulty negotiations process."

"They fumbled the ball from day one," charged NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, saying taxpayers are on the hook to pay for "the government's own mistakes.".

The Canadian Press

Province gives $2 million to teacher unions to pay for bargaining

News Oct 21, 2015 by Rob Ferguson and Kristin Rushowy Hamilton Spectator

The Ontario government has paid $1 million to each of two teacher unions to cover bargaining costs under new legislation.

The Star has confirmed a one-time payment was given to the unions representing public high school teachers as well as the province's Catholic teachers in recently negotiated collective agreements.

It is unclear if similar payouts were provided to the union representing teachers in Ontario's French-language boards. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario does not yet have a deal though a source told the Star the money "is also in play with ETFO."

On Wednesday, Education Minister Liz Sandals defended the controversial $1 million payout to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation as part of the cost of the new two-tier system, which mandates separate negotiations at the local and provincial levels under the Liberal government's Bill 122.

"This has been an unusually dragged out process," she told reporters at Queen's Park, noting "each and every clause" in contracts had to be renegotiated.

"Both the unions and the boards have had extraordinary costs because everybody is having to rent space and find venues and rooms," she added. "This will never happen again. This is the end of the transformation . . . I think of it as investing in transforming a system that didn't work."

Sandals revealed more has been paid to assist unions and school boards since provincial discussions were first held in 2004 and 2008.

But she would not release a tally or say whether all unions got the same $1 million given to the high school teacher unions in this round of bargaining – something she will consider when current talks with ETFO are concluded.

Sandals also disputed a report in Wednesday's Globe and Mail that the money to cover raises in the negotiated collected agreement with the high school teachers' union was taken from a multi-year program for hiring extra teachers to help struggling students graduate.

That program, created with the unions in 2008, resulted in the hiring of an extra 2,300 teachers "above and beyond" normal class-size ratios, with $60 million allotted to hire 600 teachers who became OSSTF members.

Sandals credited that program with boosting the overall graduation rate dramatically to 84 per cent, a level of success that prompted the government and unions to agree in 2012 that they could defer the final year of that program.

In the latest round of talks, Sandals said all sides agreed grad rates were high enough that they could cancel the program, "which actually saved us $20 million."

She insisted all 2,300 of those teachers hired under the program are still working.

"They're still there, no teachers have been cut, there have been no cuts in the classroom, there have been no cuts to spec ed," Sandals said. "It isn't an accounting trick."

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the $1 million payout to OSSTF shows the new bargaining system "has not been successful."

"Ontarians have the right to be upset," he added, saying the government should "stop using dollars that should be going to students to pay for what was a faulty negotiations process."

"They fumbled the ball from day one," charged NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, saying taxpayers are on the hook to pay for "the government's own mistakes.".

The Canadian Press