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Boards of Education and Cultural Institutions (Sector 3) Newsletter – winter 2018

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We hope you enjoyed your summer and what has shaped up to be a brisk fall. And we’d also like to wish a very warm welcome to the members of Kenora Catholic District School Board, Local 742, to OPSEU and to our sector!

Click here to download a pdf of the newsletter.

President Warren (Smokey) Thomas also sends his end-of-year greetings. He writes:

“We hear a lot about our excellent teachers – and Ontario is indeed fortunate to benefit from some outstanding educators. But ask any teacher or principal or vice-principal for the secret to the success of our school system, and they’ll tell you they couldn’t possibly do it without the dedication, experience and knowledge of support staff.

“You are the ones who keep the system well oiled. You are the ones teachers and students turn to when there’s a problem to be solved. It’s you who put warmth and a familiar feeling into what can seem like a cold and daunting system for many.

“I’m extremely proud to lead the union that represents individuals of your calibre and commitment. To everyone in our Boards of Education and Cultural Institutions division, I wish a very happy holiday season that brings joy to you and those who are dear to you.”


Your Sector 3 Boards of Education and Cultural Institutions Executive met twice this year: in October and December. This newsletter will cover items discussed at both meetings. The newsletter following the first meeting was held up as we awaited up-to-date information about the proposed OMERS changes.

Led by our chair, Kelly Martin, we discussed the results of our baseline survey on violence in the workplace. The survey was sent to every member for whom OPSEU had an email and who worked for a board of education. The results show that:

  • 85 per cent of the participants feel that their community is unaware of, and uneducated on, the role of our frontline workers in Ontario’s school system.
  • 73 per cent of participants were subjected to one of the 2,736 reported incidents of violence.
  • 67 per cent of those subjected to a violent incident did not report.
  • 70 per cent of the participants feel they have no input into the safety plans of students, or that they’re respected as frontline workers.
  • 64 per cent of participants have never contacted an OPSEU steward or joint health and safety committee (JHSC) worker member to discuss violence in their workplace.

The survey results indicate our members feel unsupported in their jobs and that administration and the Ministry of Education expect them to be injured as “part of the job.” It also indicates that members feel there’s not enough time in the day to complete the forms that are needed to keep our workers and workplaces safe.

We strongly encourage our members to report all incidents of workplace violence, both through the proper forms at work and by advising your local’s stewards or JHSC member.

Thank you to everyone for filling out the survey – we hope you enjoy your shirts! We’ll be looking for further opportunities to offer sector swag in the future.

Our next steps will include performing another survey in the new year to gauge the changes year to year, as well as continuing to work on the provincial health and safety committees between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education. We’ll be watching for the changes we expect will come from the new government.

In this regard, we’ve decided to wait before organizing a lobby day at Queen’s Park. We’re expecting the government to make changes to education that extend beyond curriculum, and we are ready to oppose those that negatively affect our members.


OPSEU supported two provisions of the six changes put forward by the OMERS Sponsor Corporation: removing the 35-year credited service cap; and allowing paramedics to negotiate their normal retirement age at 60.

However, OPSEU took a strong position against the other four proposed changes that would have affected our members’ retirements. Our union reps helped defeat the following proposed provisions:

  • replacing inflation protection with conditional indexation;
  • integrating the pension formula with the year’s additional maximum pensionable earnings (YAMPE);
  • changing normal and early retirement (bridge benefit); and
  • requiring mandatory participation for non-full-time employees (optional for low-salary employees).

To rally the members and spread information about the potential changes, OPSEU hosted two teletown halls on October 17. Len Elliot, Region 1 Regional Vice-President and OMERS liaison, Gareth Jones, Region 4 Regional Vice-President and OMERS liaison, and Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer, hosted these town halls.

We appreciate all the members who took time to take part and ask questions.

Local updates

We’ll be providing information about sector meetings, including updates from the locals. We’d like contacts from the locals to submit a brief update before our meetings to the chair, Kelly Martin, at opseusector3@gmail.com.

We’ve scheduled our next meeting for mid-winter 2019. If the contacts could provide updates by the end of January, they will be on the agenda for the meetings.

Suggested topics would be recent issues at your locals, as well as any events that you have participated in and upcoming local activities. We’d like to publicize the actions of our members to help raise the profile of the sector within OPSEU and in the eyes of the public.

Dues changes

We thank those locals that have provided their dues under the new dues level. As a reminder, starting January 1, 2019, as passed at the BPS conference June 24-26, 2018, our dues will be increasing to 60 cents per member per calendar year. The dues help us cover the costs of promoting the sector and the important work we do in the teaching and learning environments.

An invoice/reminder was sent out in January from our treasurer, Sandra Cadeau, from opseusector3@gmail.com.

Unfair labour practices – Charter challenge remedy update

On June 22, 2018, OPSEU filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) against the Ontario Liberal government for violating sections 70, 72 and 76 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (“LRA”) by interfering with the union’s representation of its members; by engaging in intimidation and coercion; and by engaging in reprisals against the union following its successful challenge of the constitutionality of the government’s actions in the 2012 round of collective bargaining.

OPSEU reached an agreement with the government that settled its remedial claims flowing from the government’s unconstitutional actions. The agreement provided for a fixed sum to be paid as damages to any member employed in an OPSEU bargaining unit during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years as remedy for the breaches of their Charter rights.

OPSEU learned that the government has made, or will be making, similar payments to non-applicant unions that represent workers in the school board sector and to non-unionized employees in the sector. In making such payments, the government is rewarding bargaining agents and other groups that did not challenge the government’s unconstitutional conduct in the 2012 round of bargaining.

We consider this an illegitimate buyoff. It sends the message to OPSEU members and the other applicant unions that we shouldn’t take on the significant risks and costs of a Charter challenge, because those who didn’t challenge the government were rewarded for their compliance.

In providing these substantial payments to the unions and other groups that did not challenge its actions, the government has interfered with OPSEU’s representation of its members, and has reprised, intimidated and engaged in coercion against OPSEU and its members for asserting their Charter and LRA rights.

There were hearing dates in September and October, with additional dates upcoming in December and in the new year.


By now, all affected members should be enrolled in the benefit plan. If you have any problems with enrolment, please contact OTIP. If you’re encountering ongoing concerns with coverage or changes from your previous plan, please contact the sector at opseusector3@gmail.com and advise Anastasios Zafiriadis, our sector negotiator at azafiriadis@opseu.org.

School Board Bargaining Conference

Plans for the first-ever Sector 3 bargaining conferences to set negotiation priorities and elect the central bargaining team to represent us at the Ontario Council of Education Workers (OCEW), to be held in 2019, are coming together. More information will follow.

The bargaining procedures were decided and voted on at the BPS Conference in June 2018 and will be part of the callout for the conference. Each division local shall be entitled to send one delegate to the School Board Bargaining Conference (SBBC) and central demand-setting meeting. The delegate should be the president of a single-unit local or the highest-ranking officer in a multi-unit local, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Members of the Divisional Executive are automatic delegates.

If you have any questions about the procedures, please contact Anastasios Zafiriadis at azafiriadis@opseu.org.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact any member of the sector executive or Chair Kelly Martin at opseusector3@gmail.com.