TORONTO - Parent-teacher interviews are next on the chopping block in the labour dispute between Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers (TECT) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). That means that TECT members will not participate in parent-teacher interview which were supposed to take place on November 16, 18 and 19.
The escalated job action stems from a stalemate in negotiations since April 2021. In fact, TECT has been at the bargaining table with the TCDSB since February 2021. Julie Altomare-Di Nunzio, President of TECT told the Corriere: “We want a fair agreement and want to maintain the ‘status quo’ deal. We are not asking for anything new”.
Currently, the TCDSB is only one of five Catholic Boards which have failed to reach a fair agreement with the Union. According to Altomare-Di Nunzio, the TCDSB Director of Education, Brendan Browne, has refused the Union’s invitation to speak directly with teachers at the bargaining table.
The TCDSB has not responded to our request for comment; however, wrote a letter to TCDSB families (October 29) which stated that TECT “will not reach a settlement with the Board and they will continue to escalate work to rule sanctions which are hurting vulnerable students everyday – unless the Board concedes to their costly and injurious bargaining demands”.
Altomare-Di Nunzio argues that this is a “very inaccurate” statement. While she could not provide the details of negotiations, she said, “we are not allowed to have proposals that involve money on the table during local negotiations”. She explained, “those issues are negotiated centrally and such comments by the Board are misleading for parents”.
Over the past 18-months, educators and students have endured challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic. The recent job action is yet another hurdle, in addition to the refusal by teachers to participate in extracurricular activities.
The TECT President maintains that “our members go above and beyond to deliver excellent curriculum to students. They continue to teach students and communicate with parents on a daily basis”. She urges “concerned parents to contact their local trustee and encourage the Board to return to the bargaining table”.
In the letter to parents, the TCDSB indicated they will be taking appropriate action in response to the latest job action. The Board did not indicate what that “appropriate action” would entail.
However, when asked what sort of action the Union could anticipate, the head of TECT suggested it may involve a rollback of teachers’ salaries. According to the union President, it would appear the Board is attempting “to claw back teachers’ rights in favour of giving more rights to management”.
Neither party indicated a timeline for when a fair agreement that supports all Catholic students and teachers may be achieved.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter