We are saddened to learn of the recent passing of one of our members, Mary Martin. Mary was a widely respected contract teacher in Waterloo Region and she truly enjoyed her days as an Occasional Teacher in our schools in recent years. She will be sadly missed by colleagues, friends and family. A donation has been made to The Shalom Counseling Centre in her memory.
When I hear the letters ‘EI’, I break into a sweat! – There is so much inconsistency and ‘mystery’ surrounding who gets what, when, for having done what! I am including a link to a memo from our provincial office that outlines important recent changes to the Employment Insurance Act as a result of the Budget Implementation Act – Bill C-38. This contains important information for all occasional teachers who apply for, and in some cases, qualify, for EI.
Please read the information carefully. Please particularly note information near the bottom of page 3 that refers to Feb. 4, 2013 as being a cut-off date for members to apply for a ‘reversion’ – that might apply to some of us. Again, this office has no information about EI other than this memo. Please contact Service Canada for information regarding your particular situation. Good luck! Most of it seems clear as mud to me! We are trying to arrange to have staff from Service Canada come and present a workshop for members later in the Spring.
Strike Pay – The paperwork for strike pay has been completed and you will be receiving a cheque in the near future. This will come as a cheque from the provincial office, not through the Board payroll. Cheques will be delivered to members who are in LTO positions in their schools. Daily Occasional Teachers will be asked to drop by the OT office and pick up their cheque. More information will be coming through your email account regarding the specific time and dates of delivery. Once that information has been posted, if you do not receive your cheque in a timely fashion, please contact this office. Only those members who signed in and out with a picket captain will be receiving a cheque.
Regulation 274 – It’s hard to know where to begin with this. Again, and still…, there are so many questions and so few answers…
Here is what I know as of today…please acknowledge that this can change…
- The Board is going to post, by the end of February, on Apply to Education, an invitation for members to apply to be interviewed for placement on the ‘Eligibility to Hire for LTO Positions roster.’ I have not received confirmed information as to how many interviews will be granted, but I understand that if there are many applicants, not all will be interviewed.
- When this system is in place, the Board hopes to only ‘open’ this list once a year. There might be a cap on this list. For the short term, the list may open more frequently.
- Members will need to have been on our OT list for 10 (school) months immediately preceding the date of application, and will have had to complete 20 full days of occasional work during those 10 months in order to apply. If there are other criteria, they have not been identified at this point. (Just FYI, OTs in the Waterloo Region Catholic Board need to have the signature of a priest and two school administrators on their applications in order to be considered for an interview.)
- The ‘Eligibility for Permanent Position roster’ will come from that first roster. Members will have had to have completed a four-month LTO and not have had a negative evaluation in order to be considered for the Permanent Position hiring roster.
- The Evaluation process has not been established yet.
- The Board will not be posting the current ‘Interim Eligibility to hire for LTO/Permanent Positions Roster’.
- The seniority list will be posted at some point. It will be listed in a password protected site – not on the Board website.
- At this point, it seems that if members do not want to be considered for the LTO or Permanent Position roster, then they need to complete the 10 occurrences of OT work before June 15 of the current year in order to remain on the list for the next school year, as is outlined in our Collective Agreement.
- We do not know if there is an ‘appeal process’ at any point in this. i.e. if you are unsuccessful in attaining an interview, what can you do? If you are not successful in getting on the list, is there an opportunity to be interviewed by another administrator/ team?
The Board emphasized that it is ‘working through the process’ and will provide more information when it is available.
Sick Leave – Just a couple of weeks ago, CUPE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government. Under it, permanent employees get 11 sick days a year. As a result, contract teachers (contract teachers are not CUPE members, but we all get what others get under the MOUs, apparently.) will now get 11 sick days at 100% pay per year. As OTs are not considered permanent employees, it is unclear as to whether LTOs in full year positions will have 11 days or be restricted to 10 days. (Sick Leave days are pro-rated for members in part-year and part-time LTOs.)
Family Care – Under our Collective Agreement we had access to up to 2 family care days per year for members in LTO positions, but those days were deducted from the members’ sick leave credits. It has been confirmed that those days will no longer be deducted from the sick leave credit days – good news for members!
Unpaid PD Days in 2013/2014 – The three unpaid PD Days for 2013/2014 have been identified by the Ministry, to be October 11, 2013, Dec. 20, 2013 and March 7, 2014. In a previous communication it was noted that Occasional Teachers are not required to take unpaid leave days in 2013 – 2014. It remains unclear what that means for Occasional Teachers in LTO positions next year.
A warm welcome to our new colleagues who have recently joined the OT ranks! We were able to formally welcome a portion of the 160 new hires to the OT list at a meeting for them held on (a blustery!) Thursday evening this past week. The Board is currently interviewing another 100 people, and there will be another group of ‘new hires’ joining us at the end of February. We wish you every success as you start to wend your way through the sometimes challenging days of Occasional Teaching! I hope that our more experienced members will be particularly welcoming to new OTs in the schools!
I would encourage all new members – and old ones! – to wear your OT lanyards when you are in our schools. Those who attended our ETFO Welcome Meeting received yours, there. The rest of the new hires will receive them at the next meeting we hold – please watch for information regarding the time and date for that meeting, coming soon to your personal email address! As OTs you will be able to recognize other OTs who also be wearing lanyards. There can be some comfort and camaraderie among ‘members in the same boat’!
A sincere ‘Thank you!’ to every member for their interest, patience, ‘stalwartness’, and participation during the past few weeks of political turmoil! I had suggested in the spring that many things would be asked of you – and they have been! – and there’s more requests to come, I’m certain! Some of these requests are not easy and ask members to give up time and energy, and on the strike day, money! I sense an increased willingness by members to read and carefully consider the information available through the provincial website and our newsletters that discuss the issues facing us as educators and citizens in this province – and I thank you for that. Respectful dialogue is always welcome!
I also want to thank those who participated in the strike action on Dec. 18, or supported us with kind thoughts if they were not able to participate. Hundreds of Occasional Teachers from Waterloo Region joined the picket lines – never an easy thing to do – but also, not as bad as many feared! – and we delivered an important message to the government! As I quoted in another message recently, ‘Surely, when governments pass unjust laws, it is the duty of citizens to oppose those laws and the governments that pass them by peaceful democratic means…’ Bud Wildman