OECTA firing back at Niagara's Catholic School Board

The association representing Niagara's Catholic Elementary teachers is firing back against the Catholic School Board. 

The OECTA claims a negotiations update sent to parents this week by the board included falsehoods and facts taken out of context.  

The main sticking point in the talks is the grievance procedure, with the OECTA wanting more access to trustees.

Below is the full statement issued by the OECTA.

The Niagara Catholic School Board released a Negotiations Update dated March 22, 2017.  The Board claims that "no other collective agreement with teachers in Catholic school boards in the province of Ontario" has a provision allowing communication between OECTA and Trustees.  This is false.  We know of at least six other Catholic school boards in Ontario that have provisions in their collective agreements allowing communication with trustees about grievances.  We also know of eight Catholic school boards that have Trustees at their bargaining table.  This allows further access to Trustees.  Niagara Catholic Trustees have never been at our bargaining table to discuss the issues that we are negotiating so they do not possess any first-hand knowledge about what has been stated at our bargaining table.  

The Board states that "OECTA Secondary has written that it is more than satisfied with the outcome of their negotiations."  This comment was taken out of context from an email that the OECTA Niagara Secondary Unit sent to us.  The Board intentionally excluded another part of the email that stated, "Be clear…we are fully supportive of Niagara Elementary and their desire for a fair collective agreement."  There are approximately five times more grievances in the elementary panel than the secondary panel.  We believe that elementary teachers are treated very differently than secondary teachers, with this lock out being but one example.

The Board proposal to remove our access to Trustees was in their initial proposal.  We indicated at the beginning of bargaining that this was a major stumbling block for us.  We have made several different proposals in an attempt to resolve this issue, including two proposals limiting our access to Trustees, but the Board said NO to all of them.  While we made proposals in our last marathon bargaining session with the Board to resolve this one last issue, the Board said NO each time and, furthermore, they never once passed across any counter proposals to us.  We are not sure why they are being so intransigent.  When it became apparent on March 21st that the Board would not budge on its position, we offered to go to binding arbitration on this last outstanding matter in exchange for ending the work to rule and the Board ending the lock out.  The Board said NO.

The Board's actions to lock teachers out will result in back to work legislation being introduced, perhaps in a few weeks, and then the outstanding issue will be sent to binding arbitration.  The Board could have agreed to binding arbitration earlier this week in order to put an end to the disruption to student learning, but they chose not to.