By Angelica Ingram
Following months of an ongoing battle between the Trilliums Lakelands District School Board and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 15 the school board has now gone to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
On April 14 TLDSB issued a release stating it has filed an application with the OLRB “to seek a decision on whether or not the OSSTF District 15 demands are a legal negotiation position” it states.
This application follows talks between the two groups breaking off in February and OSSTF District 15 declining the school board’s request to go to arbitration.
OSSTF District 15 president Colin Matthews told the Echo in an email the union is defending its position at the labour board and until recently the school board has not identified concerns with this position.
“This action is delaying local bargaining” he wrote in an email. “We are scheduled now to go back to the Labour Board on May 5. The school board’s actions are costly in both money and time for taxpayers and the union and do not move directly toward a local settlement.”
According to the school board’s release secondary school teachers have been instructed to not participate in school activities such as graduation ceremonies.
The board finds this action and others including teachers not including comments on April report cards troubling says the release.
“Their actions are affecting students and could have an impact on upcoming graduation and award ceremonies” said TLDSB chairwoman Louise Clodd in the release.
Matthews said graduation ceremonies are within the legal service withdrawal and that student marks are not being impacted nor is the process of applying for post secondary education.
“OSSTF remains committed to our students and to strengthening public education” he wrote to the paper.
Demands from OSSTF District 15 include easier access to taking personal days and the way teacher evaluations are conducted.
Issues include fairness compassion and equity specifically with teacher evaluations and the language in the collective agreement as it relates to occasional teachers Matthews told the Echo in an earlier interview.
According to the TLDSB in regards to easier access to getting time off the existing provisions are status quo.
“The second item of contention centres on the union wanting to make it more difficult for principals to conduct teacher performance appraisals (TPAs) every five years. This is the item for which the board is seeking clarification from the OLRB. It is the board’s belief that the union demands around TPAs are an attempt to override provincial legislation” states the release.
According to Matthews it is the union’s belief that all of their positions are legal.
“The school board was presented these positions in April 2015 and in fact while we have unilaterally softened our stance since they expressed no specific concerns until recently” he wrote. “During the last year we have offered the board many more dates to bargain than were accepted. We are ready to return to the table anytime.”
Local secondary school teachers have been engaging in strike action since Nov. 4 2015 withdrawing administrative services among other things.
TLDSB is waiting to hear from the OLRB.