TORONTO, March 9, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) has been engaged in a negotiation process with the Government of Ontario since receiving an invitation from the Minister of Education on February 21, 2012.
On a February 22, 2012 teleconference, the Minister stated "James Farley will share the government proposal with you at meetings in Toronto…" Further to that, the PDT discussions to date have been with the government's team and based on the proposal put forward by the government.
The OECTA has engaged in the process with the understanding that they were negotiating the parameters of an agreement with the government.
In an email received on March 8, 2012, James Farley, the government's chief negotiator, insists that the government's involvement in the ongoing Provincial Discussion Tables (PDT) was not to engage in a discussion with the teacher associations on the parameters of a collective agreement, but rather, to facilitate a dialogue between the teacher associations and the association representing trustees.
"The government put forward a proposal, some of the details of which have been widely reported in the media, and we responded and put forward a proposal of our own," said Kevin O'Dwyer, OECTA President. "It certainly seemed like we were in negotiations with the government - I am not sure exactly when the rules of the game changed."
Provincial Discussion Tables exist outside the regular collective bargaining process, which takes place between employers and employee groups.
"If the government is not willing to engage in a discussion with us about their proposal, then I am not sure why we are engaged in a PDT process at all," said O'Dwyer.
Farley has encouraged the OECTA to meet with the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA) to come up with an agreement acceptable to both parties.
"It is difficult to have discussions with the trustees who have no authority in this matter," added O'Dwyer. "The bottom line is that it is the government that created the proposal, controls the funding, and are the owners of this PDT process, therefore they are the party with whom we need to be engaged in a discussion."
OECTA remains committed to a negotiated settlement with the government and is hopeful that the government's PDT team will return to the table.
OECTA represents the 45,000 professional women and men who teach all grades in publicly funded English Catholic schools in Ontario.
For further information:
Michelle Despault, Director of Communication, OECTA, 416-925-2493 ext 509, 416-818-7533 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org