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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated November 20, 2012

 

Q: Why is there going to be labour disruption?

A: Across Ontario, the collective agreements for all school board bargaining units expired on August 31, 2012. Bargaining discussions emerged between the province and the provincial union representatives last winter. The province took a very firm financial position from the outset and the parties reached an impasse.

In September, the government passed a new law called the Putting Students First Act. Under that Act, the province gave local boards until 31 December 2012 to negotiate a local agreement the Act made it clear that a local agreement had to be "substantively identical" to the terms of an agreement negotiated between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA). The province has only provided the funding based on the terms of the OECTA agreement. The OCDSB has been and continues to work towards negotiating a local agreement.

Q: What does labour disruption mean?

A: Labour disruption is a general term which covers the range of action that a union can take when it is in a legal strike position. Labour disruption includes work to rule, partial withdrawal of service, rotating strikes and full withdrawal of service. Generally speaking "work to rule" is a form of protest; the workers are in a legal strike position, but they are attending work and doing only what they consider to be their basic duties. This is sometimes extended to include a partial withdrawal of service; workers stop performing certain job duties. A full withdrawal of service, generally referred to as a strike, is when workers walk out and refuse to do any job duties. Sometimes, this happens on a rotational basis prior to full withdrawal (for example, school by school, or bargaining unit by bargaining unit).

Q: Can schools stay open during labour disruption?

A: During a period of labour disruption, schools will stay open as long as we can ensure the health and safety of our students. That decision will depend on the nature of the disruption and the job responsibilities of the bargaining unit(s) involved. At any time during a partial or full withdrawal of services, if we cannot ensure the safety of our students, schools will be closed.

Q: What is the Board’s position?

A: The Board is committed to negotiating a local agreement, but is bound by the law. The law says the agreement must be substantively identical to the terms of the OECTA agreement which are outlined below. The Board has been working with the province, trying to encourage the Minister to accept a more flexible definition of "substantively identical" so that we might be more successful in reaching an agreement.

The terms of the OECTA agreement are:

  • Compensation freeze for the period of 01 September 2012 to 31 August 2014;
  • Deferred grid movement effective on the 97th day of the school year, to recognize experience and qualifications;
  • A restructured sick leave plan to provide up to 10 days of sick leave at 100%, followed by 120 day short term disability plan;
  • Elimination of the retirement gratuity plan; grandparented for current employees with a vested entitlement based on August 31, 2012 calculation.

Q: What is the Union’s position?

A: You can learn more about the union position by contacting them directly. Contact the elementary teachers union at (613) 596-3932 or visit their website at http://www.ocetf.ca/. Contact the secondary school teachers union at (613) 729-7211 or visit their website at http://www.d25.osstf.ca/

Q: I thought the Act prohibited labour disruption?

A: Minister of Education had stated that labour disruption was precluded until after December 31, 2012. Subsequently, the Minister clarified that the terms of the Labour Relations Act continue to apply and that unions and school districts would go through the normal steps of the collective bargaining process. However, the Act does grant the Minister the authority to order the return to work of employees who are on strike or who have been locked out.

Q: What is meant by "lockout"?

A: A lockout is a legal procedure that may be employed by the Board in a circumstance where labour disruption by employees impacts the school day program to such an extent that student safety is at risk and/or regular classes can no longer be maintained. In such situations, no employee in the affected bargaining unit(s) may enter the building.

Q: What will happen at my child’s school?

A: The impact of labour disruption may vary on a school-by-school basis. The impact will also be different between elementary schools and secondary schools. For example, work to rule and/or a partial withdrawal of services may vary slightly subject to interpretation and the specific practices at a work site. A full withdrawal of service could happen on a system-wide basis or on a rotational basis. We cannot predict what will happen, but we will communicate with parents and community members as soon as we have information available.

Q: Will report cards be issued on time?

 

A: The inputting of report card data has been delayed as a result of the labour disruption in some schools. As a result, we do not have the capacity to issue report cards for all students at this time. Each school is putting in place an interim strategy in order to generate report cards for students in grade 12. This will ensure that grade 12 students are not disadvantaged in their application process to post-secondary institutions. Report cards for students in grades 9-11 will be delayed until the current labour dispute has been resolved.

 

 

The mid-term report card is a record of student achievement, but the critical information is the feedback for future learning. All students and parents can request mid-term marks and feedback from the individual teacher. Students are encouraged to ask teachers for this information during class time. Parents may contact the school and request the opportunity to speak with the teacher, either in person or by phone during the school day.

Q: How will special education services be affected in the event of labour disruption?

A: Under the Human Rights Code, the District has an obligation to continue to provide service for special needs students, as long as services are being provided for other students. Contingency plans will be put into place to attempt to meet the needs of exceptional students insofar as possible. In the event that schools are closed, the closure will also apply to special education students.

Q: How will we know what is happening regarding labour disruptions?

A; We will use the district website (www.ocdsb.ca), social media and the media to communicate any major announcements about the status of the labour disruption. We will also post a recorded message with updates on the labour situation through the telephone line at the Board office.

Q: Will schools remain open during labour disruption?

A: Schools will remain open provided that it is safe for students. Student safety includes our ability to ensure appropriate supervision for students as well as the care and maintenance of the building. Generally speaking, in a work to rule situation, schools will remain open. In a partial withdrawal of service or rotating strike situation, a decision about the ability to keep a school or schools open will be made based on student safety. In the event of a teachers’ strike or in situations with multiple bargaining units taking action/striking at the same time, classes may have to be cancelled. Generally speaking, this means that schools are closed for classes and no supervision is available. Students may be able to access the building on a limited basis to access the office, learning or resource materials or to recover personal possessions.

If a decision is made to close schools, students will not attend school. Parents will be notified through the media, social media, and the district website, and we will try to provide at least 24 hours notice. 

Q: Will school buses be affected?

A: Generally speaking, if schools remain open, school bus service will continue to operate. However, there may be delays due to picket lines or supervision issues at the school bus loading area. Information on busing will be provided through the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority website (www.ottawaschoolbus.ca) and will also be linked through the district website at www.ocdsb.ca. Updates regarding transportation service disruptions, if any, will also be announced through the media.

Q: What happens if the schools are closed?

A: Students will not be allowed to attend school. Parents will need to make alternate care arrangements for their children.

Q: Will the daycare program at the school be affected?

A: Extended day programs operated by the district are staffed by employees who belong to affected bargaining units. Therefore, daycare programs are subject to labour disruption in the same way that schools may be affected. In the event that a school(s) are closed, the extended day program will also be closed.

Childcare services operated at district schools which are run by third parties may continue to operate. Information will be posted on the district website.

Q: Will the playgrounds and playing fields be open?

A: Playgrounds and playing fields will be open, but access during the school day may be limited in order to ensure appropriate student safety.

Q: Will school sports be cancelled?

A: School sports are currently operating on a modified schedule in many schools. That is expected to continue in the event of labour action. In the event that student safety is at risk school sports may be cancelled. If schools are closed, sports will be cancelled.

Q: How will Continuing Education programs be affected?

A: Continuing Education staff (Adult Day School Credit Program Teachers) are members of the bargaining unit and will be affected by any labour disruption. Non-credit Continuing Education programs may not be affected in the same way. More information will be shared if the program is impacted.

Q: Will community use of school permits be affected by a strike?

A: Every effort will be made to maintain commitments to the community and to continue community use permits. However, our first priority is health and safety. If the circumstances of the labour disruption create conditions which are deemed unsafe or unoperable, community use permits may be cancelled. Every effort will be made to give notice to our community partners.

In the event of a full withdrawal of services:

 

 

Q: Will there be picketing at school sites?

 

A: Picketing is a union decision. We are not aware of any planned picketing at our schools, however, situations can change quickly and you are encouraged to assess the situation on arrival. If you must access the school when there is picketing please exercise caution and expect delays. Approach a picket line as you would a busy intersection; come to a complete stop, assess the situation and find an appropriate opening to cross.

Q; Will striking employees get paid?

Employees are not paid by the school district during a full withdrawal of service. However, they do receive "strike" pay from their union. You will have to contact the union for more information.

Q: Will the Board discipline employees who support striking employees?

A: The District's position is that employees who are not in a legal strike position are expected to report for work, and there will be consequences for those who unlawfully withhold their services.

Q: Will the Board discipline other employees who, during non-working hours, support striking employees?

A: Generally, other employees will not be disciplined for supporting striking employees during non-working hours. However, they may be subject to discipline if they fail to attend at work, engage in strike related or other workplace misconduct, engage in picketing activities while supposed to be actively at work performing the normal function of their positions, fail to obey a directive of the District, or otherwise break workplace or other rules or policies as set by the District.

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