Education Unions Give Notice to Bargain

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Education Unions Give Notice to Bargain

A number of the unions representing teachers and education workers in Ontario have now given notice to begin bargaining with the newly elected PC government for contracts which expire August 31, 2022.* The notice means the government is required to respond within 15 days for potential dates for initial talks. 

The existing contracts were negotiated under the Ford government’s dictate, eventually enshrined in Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019  which limited increases in wages to 1per cent per year for those in the public sector. The restrictions applied for a period of three consecutive years known as the “moderation period”. The legislation requires that compensation for employees not increase on average by more than one per cent in every consecutive 12-month period during the moderation period.

For unionized employees, the moderation period began the first day of the first collective agreement negotiated after June 5, 2019. For the education unions, this means that for all bargaining units under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act (SBCBA) where the first day of the centrally negotiated collective agreement was Sept 1, 2019, the moderation period ends on September 1, 2022. The next collective agreement under the SBCBA, therefore, should be negotiated without the restrictions to compensation under this particular Act  unless the Ford government tries to extend the moderation period or invoke new legislation to limit negotiations going forward .

The education sector unions and health care unions including  the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union and UNIFOR, through the Ontario Federation of Labour, have filed a court challenge alleging the law violates public sector workers’ right to collective bargaining under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Hearing dates are scheduled for September 2022 and a decision is expected in early 2023.

*As of June 13 the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation(OSSTF), Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Association des enseignantes y des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) have all given notice to bargain.