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Union leaders for Ontario secondary school teachers vote in favour of tentative deal

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Ken Coran comments on the results of recent discussions with the government regarding changes to imposed working conditions, April 4, 2013 at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Leaders of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation voted overwhelmingly in favour of a tentative deal that could bring labour peace to the province's secondary schools.

The agreement in principle – which won 96-per-cent approval from local union leaders Thursday – would alter terms imposed through legislation earlier this year. It reduces a pay cut imposed through legislation from a mandatory three unpaid professional development days to one (or possibly two at some school boards, depending on negotiations). It also improves payouts for younger teachers who lost their banked sick days under the legislated contract terms.

High school teachers and support staff will vote on the deal between April 12 and 18.

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"We believe we have done the best we can," said OSSTF president Ken Coran. "We have been creative in our solutions."

Mr. Coran said that his union had received assurances from the government that any future pay-grid changes would be "adequately debated and discussed," unlike the 97-day pay-grid freeze recently imposed through legislation.

"The money has now been moved around a bit, the language has now been moved around a bit," said Education Minister Liz Sandals.

Teachers stopped leading voluntary activities in September, after the Ontario Liberals introduced legislation that later imposed the terms of the contracts. The government and teachers' unions were at an impasse in January, when Kathleen Wynne was chosen as the new Liberal Leader. Talks resumed soon afterward, and leaders of both public-school teacher unions recently directed their members to stop political protests.

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