Ontario public high schools look set to open with no labour disruptions after teachers' union leaders endorsed a tentative contract agreement on Friday.
To reach the tentative deal–the first of five needed with different unions–the province and school boards backed away from some of their most unpopular proposals, including the idea of raising class sizes, according to an internal union bulletin obtained by the Globe.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) has suspended its strike action plans and teachers will resume extracurricular activities. The deal will go to union members for a ratification vote in September.
The OSSTF has negotiated a series of small payments totalling 2.5 per cent over the next two years: a onetime lump sum payment of one per cent for all teachers and occasional teachers for the upcoming school year; a 0.5 per cent salary increase for teachers and persons of responsibility halfway through the 2015-2016 school year followed by a one per cent salary increase in September 2016.
The province and Ontario Public School Boards Association, the union's two bargaining partners, had vowed to allow only a "net zero" contract in which any salary increases would be offset with cost savings. A senior government official says it "is consistent with the government's net zero bargaining framework."
OSSTF members will also be allowed to take sick leave for medical or dental appointments, and long-term substitute teachers will double their maximum allowable sick days from 60 to 120.
Teachers will get one additional P.A. day. They won some leeway around professional judgment, including a promise to consult them about any changes to student grades.
Under the deal, management also won't touch some things the teachers were fighting to keep at current levels, including the amount of time they're required to spend supervising students outside of class. In the spring, OSSTF president Paul Elliott pointed to the supervision time as a major sticking point, along with class size limits, which the province and boards had wanted to remove entirely.
The tentative agreement comes a few days shy of a year since the teachers' last contract expired. Spokespeople for the Ministry of Education have said the delays came from working out the kinks of new, streamlined bargaining legislation that had each of Ontario's five K-12 education unions bargaining simultaneously.
Each union negotiated centrally with the province and the relevant board association while each of their locals entered talks over smaller contract issues with individual school boards. Despite a central agreement, some of OSSTF's locals still need to reach local deals.
With files from Jenna Zucker