TORONTO – On Wednesday February 26, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas gave a presentation to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on Bill 122 – School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014.
The proposed Bill 122 lays the foundation for a central bargaining process in Ontario’s school boards.
Currently, OPSEU represents 9 bargaining units comprising more than 2,600 education support staff in several school boards throughout Ontario.
In its current form, Bill 122 restricts access to central bargaining for education support staff to unions that represent a minimum of 15 bargaining units. This threshold of 15 would allow the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and CUPE to form their own central tables as each represents more than 15 bargaining units, and a majority of the education support staff in Ontario’s school boards.
However, President Thomas’ presentation made it clear that central bargaining is an important and valuable process that all unions with bargaining rights in the education sector should have access to.
Thomas recommended to the Committee that one central table be formed that is open to all unions that represent education support staff and are not affiliated with ETFO, OSSTF and CUPE. Additionally, Thomas stated that this “council of unions” should be designated as the bargaining agency for its constituent unions.
Thomas informed the Committee that “OPSEU is currently working with several other unions to form a ‘council of unions’ to ensure their members have access to provincial bargaining.” He added that “OPSEU is confident that a council of unions will be an effective and viable bargaining agent fully committed to participation in central bargaining.”