School board contacts mediator after labour board ruling

By Chad Ingram

Published May 31 2016

The chairwoman of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board says the board intends to get back to the bargaining table with Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 15 with the assistance of a provincial mediator following a ruling from the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
The board and the teachers’ union local have been without a collective agreement for nearly two years.

Talks between the two groups broke off in February with OSSTF District 15 declining the board’s request to go to arbitration.
Demands from District 15 include easier access to taking personal days and the way teacher evaluations are conducted.

Issues include fairness and equity specifically with teacher performance appraisals and the language in the collective agreement as it relates to occasional teachers OSSTF district president Colin Matthew told the paper in an earlier interview.

Teachers have been instructed not to participate in school activities such as graduation ceremonies or provide comments on report cards.
In April the school board filed an application with the labour relations board “to seek a decision on whether or not the OSSTF District 15 demands are a legal negotiation position.”
“In conclusion none of the impugned proposals are necessarily inconsistent with the Education Act” reads a May 20 decision from the labour relations board dismissing the school board’s application.

“Unlike the Trillium Lakelands District School Board we have been committed to the collective bargaining process throughout these negotiations” Matthew said in a release on the ruling. “Our members will certainly feel vindicated by this decision but what they are really looking for is a fair negotiated deal. It’s now time for the board to finally sit down with us and engage in serious negotiations.”
“We are disappointed in the decision” board chairwoman Louise Clodd said. “We reached out to the provincial mediator. We’re hopeful the mediator will be available to work with both parties soon.”
Clodd added that just because the board’s application was dismissed it does not validate the district’s proposals.

District 15 is one of the few OSSTF locals in the province that’s been unable to reach an agreement with its school board. Secondary teachers protested outside the board satellite office at Minden’s Archie Stouffer Elementary School earlier this month.