Collective Bargaining and Contract Management
One of the primary functions of our Association is to collectively bargain the agreements that outline the working conditions, compensation, and benefits received by our members, and to ensure the appropriate application of provisions of those agreements by the employer.
The Association is the legal bargaining agent for all the local bargaining units at English Catholic school boards across the province. There are 29 Catholic district school boards and one private school, making for 30 employers with which the Association bargains. At each of these employers, there are one, two, or three bargaining units that are governed by the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, and the Education Act.
Since the implementation of the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, bargaining takes place at both the provincial and local levels, resulting in a provincial agreement that is applicable to all members, and local agreements specific to the members in each local unit.
As mandated in the Association’s Handbook, provincial-level bargaining is engaged in by the Association’s provincial bargaining team. Our provincial bargaining team is comprised of: the President, First Vice-President, and one other member of the Provincial Executive, as determined by the Provincial Executive; the General Secretary; provincial staff as deemed necessary; three members of the Council of Presidents, one each from small, medium, and large units; and one occasional teacher regional representative.
Issues bargained provincially are determined by central table participants and cannot be bargained locally. These issues tend to be financial in nature or are issues that would impact all teachers across the province.
The provincial bargaining team is guided by the Association’s bargaining priorities. The process for establishing our bargaining priorities is dictated by the Association’s Handbook. We hold regional collective bargaining workshops and seminars to seek members’ concerns and ideas.
As per the Association’s Handbook, all provincial-level agreements must be ratified by a majority of our members.
Local bargaining may take place alongside provincial bargaining, or it may begin once provincial bargaining has concluded. Local bargaining is led by the local unit. Bargaining and Contract Services department staff from the OECTA Provincial Office may also assist with local bargaining.
There are 75 local bargaining units representing Catholic teachers across the province.
Negotiating a collective agreement that protects members’ interests is only half the battle. We also must make sure that the employer respects the agreement’s provisions.
Grievances are the mechanism that we use to ensure that employers respect and implement the provisions that set out members’ salary, benefits, and working conditions. The Ontario Labour Relations Act provides for the arbitration of grievances arising from the application, interpretation, or violation of the collective agreement, including any complaints about violations of statutes such as the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Employment Standards Act.