The EB (Education and Library Science) bargaining team was in two days of hearings at the Public Interest Commission (PIC) followed by two days of mediation from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12. Unfortunately, there has been no progress in negotiations, as the employer is deeply entrenched in its own positions. An overview of regressive proposals affecting all core public service bargaining units is available here, while EB-specific proposals are highlighted below.
PSAC is committed to continue pushing for improvements and resisting concessions in the EB collective agreement.
The union is also disappointed that the government, with all the resources at its disposal, refused to provide a PIC submission in both official languages. You can download PSAC’s EB PIC submission in English and French and access the government’s English submission here.
Wage parity with comparable jobs
PSAC has proposed wage adjustments that keep up with the wages of other employees in comparable jobs both outside and inside the federal public service. In many cases, the wages of PSAC members in the EB group are lagging far behind those of other employees in similar positions. For example, elementary and secondary school teachers (ED-EST INAC) working in Indigenous reserves in Ontario are paid up to an average of 7.3% less than teachers working for the province’s school boards. And EB vice-principals are paid up to 22% less than those in Ontario school boards, while EB principals are paid up to 20% less than their counterparts in Ontario school boards.
The employer made an insulting counter-offer of wage adjustments totaling up to just 1% for these EB positions.
New national rate of pay for teachers who work for 12 months (ED-EST)
ED-EST 12-month teachers’ wages differ province-to-province, and the transition to a new national rate of pay has been a long-standing issue. PSAC has proposed a new national rate of pay for these teachers, and a joint committee composed of both employer and union representatives had previously reached an agreement to recommend a national rate of pay that would become the basis for negotiations.
However, the employer simply dismissed the union’s demand and the joint committee’s recommendations and is again offering monetary measures totaling just 1%.
Allowance for union members who teach Indigenous languages
PSAC tabled this proposal in recognition of the need to preserve and promote Indigenous languages. Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls call on the Federal government to invest in the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages. The Federal government itself has shown commitment to Indigenous languages when it passed the Indigenous Languages Act. The union believes that an allowance for Indigenous language teachers is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the employer has refused to discuss this demand at the negotiating table.
Access to professional development
Currently, the employer is obligated to provide allowances in lieu of salary to employees taking education leave—at a minimum of 50% and up to a maximum of 100% of basic salary. The employer is demanding a concession that allows the employer the option to pay or not pay an allowance and that would bring the minimum allowances down to 0%.
PSAC is pushing back on this concession, arguing that the change will limit access to professional development given the possibility of the employee receiving no allowances in lieu of salary. The union further demands that professional development days be used primarily for academic initiatives rather than departmental training purposes.
Pedagogical break for 12-month teachers (ED-EST)
Recognizing that the workload of 12-month teachers can be very intense, PSAC has proposed that these teachers be given a break with pay annually from July 1 to July 9, including one designated paid holiday. Unlike 10-month teachers, these 12-month teachers do not have a spring break. The union is simply seeking the same benefit for 12-month teachers.
The employer has responded that this would be cost prohibitive, since they would have to hire replacement teachers.
Leave benefits and alternative work arrangements
PSAC is seeking improvements to leave benefits, including for family-related responsibilities, injury-on-duty, and education and career development. The union has also proposed that employees’ requests to work away from the employer’s premises not be unreasonably denied. It is the union’s position that these demands will help address the issue of work-life balance.
The employer has rejected all these demands and has offered no provisions that address work-life balance.
The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.