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Public high school teachers reach tentative agreement with province

CityNews | posted Thursday, Aug 20th, 2015

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After months of negotiations, there is hope for Ontario’s public high school students.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has reached a tentative agreement with the province and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), the union said Thursday.

The news was posted on the OSSTF Facebook page.

The deal must be endorsed by the union’s local leaders before it is presented to all members for ratification. The union said that meeting will take place later this week, but the exact day has not been revealed.

The province’s 60,000 public high school teachers were in talks with the province on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The OSSTF is not the only union in negotiations with the province. Ontario is also negotiating with its public elementary teachers’ union and the union representing Catholic elementary and high school teachers. The contracts for all Ontario teachers expired last August and there has been no resolution, with classes set to start on Sept. 8.

Province should brace for ‘fight of your lives,’ teachers’ union warns

The head of the province’s public elementary teachers’ union is expected to reveal the next steps in its work-to-rule campaign on Thursday morning.

Sam Hammond is scheduled to address more than 800 delegates during the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s (ETFO) annual meeting in Toronto.

ETFO, which represents 76,000 teachers, is set to return to the bargaining table on Sept. 1. By that time, union members will have been without a contract for a year.

The union has been in a legal strike position since May 10.

Earlier this week, Hammond warned that the province and schools boards should prepare for the fight of their lives when negotiations resume.

If serious bargaining “doesn’t happen, then I say to the government and OPSBA, ‘you are in for the fight of your lives,’” Hammond said.

Last week, Education Minister Liz Sandals warned the four big teachers’ unions that they can’t unilaterally decide what job actions they’ll take if there are no deals when school resumes and call it a work-to-rule campaign.

Meanwhile, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), which was in a legal strike position as of Monday, is expected to resume bargaining on Thursday, and continue into Friday, and Monday and Tuesday of next week.

OECTA officials said work-to-rule action will begin on the teachers’ first paid date back to work, which is this week for teachers in some northern regions. There’s no word yet on what that action will be or if it will take place despite the negotiations.

Members of OECTA, which represents 50,000 teachers, have been without a contract for more than a year.

With files from The Canadian Press

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