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School boards speak out in favour of collective bargaining

“They (the government) belong at the table,” says Greg Pietersma, chairman of the Upper Canada District School Board.

“But we didn’t expect them to shape deals.”

Expressing frustration with the breakdown in collective bargaining, a number of school boards openly criticize the McGuinty government for its intractable position. This is brought on after OECTA, the provincial Catholic teachers’ union, submitted to government demands and signed off on the “take it or leave it” deal.

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association pointed out that the government took five months to negotiate a deal with a single union (OECTA); now school boards and teacher unions, under the timelines set out by Broten, were expected to reach 400 collective agreements in only four weeks.

“I am totally confused by the message and the fact that they’re using the media to deliver that message,” said Peel DSB chair Janet McDougall. Her feelings were seconded by Limestone DSB chair Helen Chadwick, adding that, “… we have a moral obligation (to bargain in good faith), because these are our staff, our employees, people who do the work of the board for us.”

Warren Kennedy, director of education for the Greater Eseex DSB, openly opposed the imposition of the OECTA agreement and what it meant for his board’s role in future negotiations. “It’s just unrealistic,” Kennedy insisted. “We’ll probably get the point where there’s legislation.”

Teachers work directly for the school board, and not the province; DSBs are unhappy that they are effectively prevented from coming to an agreement with their employees.