CONCILIATION: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I heard ETFO has filed for conciliation. What does this mean?
Under Section 18 of the Labour Relations Act, either party may initiate conciliation at any time during the process of negotiations. Filing for conciliation is an attempt at resolution. Essentially, it is a request for third-party assistance. ETFO has filed an application to the Minister of Labour requesting a provincially appointed conciliator.
What happens in conciliation?
Once the conciliator is appointed by the Minister of Labour, they will meet with the parties in an effort to help discussions progress. The parties to bargaining must confer at least once with the conciliator. The conciliator can make suggestions, but they have no authority to impose a settlement on the parties.
What happens if conciliation is successful?
If conciliation is successful, a Teacher/OT and/or an Education Worker tentative central agreement will be reached and will be submitted to the appropriate section of the membership for ratification.
If a majority of members vote in favour of the tentative central agreement, it becomes their new central agreement.
What happens if conciliation fails?
ETFO’s goal is to reach fair central agreements for its members, so we are optimistic that the conciliation process will be successful. As such, the Federation is putting its total focus right now on conciliation. We are hopeful that as a neutral third party, the conciliation officer can help us make progress in bargaining.
However, if the conciliation fails to produce a positive result:
- the parties can continue to bargain without the presence of a conciliator; or
- either party can ask the conciliator to file a “no board” report stating that they may be at impasse.
Are there reasons why ETFO is filing for conciliation and taking strike votes, rather than entering into binding arbitration with the government right now?
On Friday, August 25 ETFO, along with AEFO and OECTA, issued a joint statement in response to the announcement that OSSTF would be entering into binding arbitration with the government. The release, entitled “A one-size-fits-all approach to binding arbitration will not serve students and local communities, say AEFO, ETFO, and OECTA”, included the following:
“Today’s announcement from Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and OSSTF that the parties may be entering into binding arbitration, is not something that AEFO, ETFO, and OECTA can consider at our respective bargaining tables at this time.
Entering into binding arbitration at this juncture would not support the students we serve in elementary and secondary schools – as binding arbitration would all but guarantee that the key issues we have brought forward at our respective bargaining tables, which are critical to learning and working conditions in our schools, would not be addressed.
Furthermore, the decision to enter into binding arbitration now impacts the opportunity for meaningful local bargaining on key local issues.
The Ford Conservative government has continually refused to engage in substantive discussions with our unions, despite our many attempts to make progress at our respective bargaining tables. We once again call on the government to respect our right to free and fair collective bargaining, and come to our bargaining tables prepared to engage in meaningful discussions about critical issues facing publicly funded education in Ontario – issues such as increased violence in schools, resources and supports for student mental health, teachers’ use of professional judgement, and addressing the teacher shortage.
The frontline teachers and education workers represented by AEFO, ETFO, and OECTA will continue to work toward achieving fair, negotiated agreements that defend and protect publicly funded education, and support all students, educators, and families in this province.”
ETFO also issued a media release today that provides more information about the reason for filing for conciliation and the viability of binding arbitration at this point in the negotiations process.
When will the meeting with the conciliation officer take place?
ETFO will advise members as soon as a meeting with the conciliation officer has been set.
What does conciliation mean for ETFO members?
During conciliation, ETFO members engage in their professional responsibilities as they normally would.
Why has ETFO filed for conciliation now?
Over the past year, ETFO’s central bargaining team has attempted to resolve key issues to secure a fair deal for its teacher, occasional teacher, and education worker members. There have been multiple bargaining meetings over the course of 12 months, and:
- No progress has been achieved at ETFO’s Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Table on any key issue, including salary, supports for special education, violence in schools, class size, benefits or addressing the crisis in retention and recruitment of education professionals. In addition, the OPSBA/government bargaining team has refused to remove the strips they have tabled on issues like sick leave, benefits and professional judgement.
- While ETFO was initially able to make some significant progress at its Education Worker Central Table, bargaining at this table has been stalled for months.
Given the unacceptably slow pace of bargaining, ETFO made the decision to apply for conciliation with the Minister of Labour for both the Teacher/Occasional Teacher and Education Worker central tables in an effort to accelerate the process towards fair collective agreements.
How can I stay informed about bargaining developments?
ETFO provides bargaining updates to members through:
- the Collective Bargaining eNewsletter, which members receive directly from the Provincial Office by email;
- Central Bargaining Bulletins, which are delivered to members through ETFO locals’ communication channels. They can also be found on ETFO’s members’ website at etfo.ca;
- voicemails and texts;
- social media, e.g., ETFO’s member-only Collective Bargaining Facebook Group; and
- information in ETFO’s monthly and special steward mailings.
I’m not receiving the Collective Bargaining eNewsletter. What do I do?
If you are not receiving the CB eNewsletter, you may have inadvertently unsubscribed, or we may not have a current email address on file for you.
You can email ETFO’s Member Records Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, please include your ETFO Member ID Number, as well as your current contact information (first/last name, address, telephone numbers, email). Member Records staff will make sure your contact information is accurate and you are subscribed to the CB eNewsletter.
I’m not receiving Central Bargaining Bulletins from my local. What do I do?
Please check with your ETFO local about how it makes the provincial office’s Central Bargaining Bulletins available to members.