By Angelica Ingram
After just a couple of hours talks between the Trillium Lakelands District School Board and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation ended.
The negotiations were called off on Feb. 4 by the provincial mediator according to a media release issued by TLDSB. Talks were scheduled to take place over a two-day period.
As a result the board is now going to formally request arbitration for all outstanding issues.
“We’ve sent a formal letter to the OSSTF District 15 requesting the arbitration” said TLDSB board chairwoman Louise Clodd.
While Clodd said she does not know when the arbitration will take place she is hoping “relatively quickly.”
The letter was sent to OSSFT District 15 president Colin Matthew by TLDSB director of education Larry Hope and outlines disappointment at the turn of events.
“We are disappointed that we have been unable to reach an agreement with our secondary teacher and occasional teacher bargaining unit despite the fact we have been able to reach agreements with all of our other local unions and with another OSSTF bargaining unit” reads the letter.
“We believe that successful negotiations with those groups demonstrate our commitment to achieving fair and reasonable local collective agreement.”
Secondary school teachers have been engaging in strike action since November of last year not participating in things such as staff meetings.
Demands from OSSTF include teacher evaluations and personal days.
According to a media release from TLDSB the board believes increased teacher absenteeism will have a negative impact on student achievement and that the demands around appraisals are precedent setting.
Clodd says one of the demands OSSTF is asking for performance appraisals is a legislated item.
“We follow the legislated process which includes the review of five areas of teaching that must be looked at and in those five areas there are at least 64 different competencies” said Clodd. “The unions demands would not allow for principals and the school board administrators to review all of those competencies thoroughly.”
Clodd said the board cannot put itself into a situation where they are liable for not doing what they are supposed to do.
On Jan. 25 the school board and the Professional Student Services Personnel successfully negotiated a tentative agreement which is set to be ratified over the coming weeks.
“We’re very positive and happy we were able to reach an agreement with the mediator” said Clodd.
PSSP includes social workers speech language pathologists program officers and more.
Clodd was hopeful that the results would be repeated with OSSTF.
“We’re hopeful that we can work through this process and have our people back in full-swing and be in a good place once we get through this arbitration” she said.
The last contract for both the OSSTF and PSSP expired August 2014.
“The board believes that an agreement to proceed by way of interest arbitration has the advantage of ensuring that both quality education and positive labour relations will prevail” wrote Hope in the letter to OSSTF.
The decision made by the arbitrator is binding.
The Echo did not hear back from Colin Matthew by press time.