January 15, 2016

An important point regarding pension changes in proposed contract

I recently received an email that made an important point about the changes to our pension plan in the proposed contract:

Hello again, Robert

Read your last article “…a hollow victory for unions“.
I think it would have been useful if you had added that the increase in deductions to the teachers pension plan would “consume”, according to my calculations, 72% of any increase proposed by the government (at least for anyone earning more than $54,900). That means, for the 1% increase in salary offered in the agreement, the real increase is only 0.28%. For the 2% increase offered, the real increase would be 0.58%.
With the other increases (CPP, EI, drug plan), the real increases would go further down to real zero or actual reductions in salary. It is understandable that higher absolute values of pensions payments require higher contributions, but most regular folks should be aware of the real numbers before they go to vote for the new agreement.
And you were talking about increases to cover inflation!
January 12, 2016

Quebec’s proposed deal with public sector workers: a hollow victory for unions?

After months of mobilization and negotiation, union leaders are more interested in claiming victory than in actually achieving it

By Robert Green | Published January 5, 2016 by Richochet.media

Prior to the holidays, teachers, parents and students in Quebec received some hopeful news: the Common Front, consisting of unions representing over 400,000 of the province’s half a million public sector workers, had overcome their final hurdle and arrived at an agreement on salaries. The news was filled with stories of satisfied union leaders trumpeting the fact that they had persuaded the government to move from their initial offer of 3 per cent in salary increases over five years to an increase of between 9.15 per cent and 10.25 per cent per year.

It may therefore come as a surprise to readers to learn that many public sector workers are preparing to vote against the deal. Delegates for the federation representing health care workers, which represents nearly one-quarter of the Common Front’s membership, have already voted to reject the deal. The FAE labour federation, which represents 34,000 teachers in the province’s French school boards (but is not a member of the Common Front), is recommending that its members reject a similar deal.

Why are Quebec workers, who have been without a contract since last April, skeptical of the proposed settlement? Because, on closer inspection, the deal on offer is not at all the victory that the Common Front leaders are claiming. Continue reading

January 7, 2016

Discussing the details of the Common Front salary deal for Quebec’s public sector workers

Robert Green discusses the details of the Common Front salary deal with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff:

Click here to download

January 5, 2016

Extracurricular activities are back on at the EMSB following tentative deal

By Katharine Wilton | Published January 5, 2015 by the Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

While union leaders are recommending that teachers ratify the agreement, Robert Green, a teacher at Westmount High School, said he cannot support the deal. Green said he is unhappy that Common Front leaders are including lump-sum payments and adjustments to salary scales when calculating the 9 per cent pay increase.

“When these are removed, the actual salary increase is 5.25 per cent over five years,” Green said. “A lump-sum payment (1.5 per cent) is not a salary increase. The numbers the Common Front is putting out is being presented in a very manipulative way.”

A 2.4 per cent increase that was negotiated as part of a government plan to reduce pay scales for civil servants should not be included in the nine per cent increase, Green contends. “These were separate negotiations,” he said. “The unions are making it seem that the government has come further than it actually has.”

Green said he is also unhappy that there are still not enough resources for students with special needs. “We are left with a status quo that has 25 per cent of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years,” he said.

Read more: http://montrealgazette.com/news/extracurricular-activities-are-back-on-at-the-emsb-following-tentative-deal

December 30, 2015

Sign the petition demanding equal treatment for teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

Petition text:

QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) has let its members down especially the 70% of us who are women. We, the 8000 teachers in the English school boards in Quebec are the only teachers and public sector workers in Quebec without an important equity feature in our contract. The ANNEX XXXV  on family-work reconciliation (or similar letter of understanding) is found in the contracts of the 100,000 francophone school board teachers (FSE and FAE)  and in the contracts of all CEGEP Teachers, nurses, and health care workers – 330,000 Quebec public employees with whom we made up the Common Front. This important recognition asserts that. The bargaining parties encourage the local parties to facilitate the conciliation of parental and family responsibilities with work-related responsibilities, when determining and implementing working conditions.

The members of QPAT, the majority of whom are women balancing work and family responsibilities deserve to have this very 21st Century recognition of their rights and their lives in their contract. It would encourage  management to be more responsive and sensitive to accomodating family needs of teachers with our work conditions.Please sign if you support QPAT teachers (all teachers in the English Public School System in Quebec ) sharing in the rights of the francophon majority and if you support the advancement of women`s rights in the workplace.

To sign the petition click here

To read Katharine Cukier’s open letter to Richard Goldfinch click here

December 19, 2015

An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch about a Glaring Omission in the Contracts of Teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

By Katharine Cukier

Dear Mr. Goldfinch,I am writing as a member of QPAT to express my concerns about our new contract. Many of the women and the young parents at my school share my concerns about the omission of the letter of understanding found in the 2010-2015 contracts of 100,000 teachers of the FSE and FAE that is absent from the QPAT contract.  ANNEX XXXV in the 2010-15 collective agreement of FSE and FAE  asserts  the ”interdependence between work and family’, and makes the recommendation that management endeavours to ”organise work conditions” to allow for a better family-work balance”.

For many of us with family responsibilities, in my case a highly dependent disabled child and my aging father, this understanding would allow for a more humane management culture and an enlightened context for  discussions and arrangements around family-work balance.

I have brought this omission to the attention of Peter Sutherland, and I am hopeful  that the omission of 2010-2015 will be corrected.

It would be helpful to know why we were denied this Annex to begin with. Forgive my feminism, but could it be because the QPAT executive is all male? Perhaps QPAT needs parity. If the the federal cabinet of Canada can do it, surely a small teachers’ union could.

Attached to the contracts (2010-15) of our negotiating partner, FSE (CSQ)  and also to the contracts of the FAE contract,  the annexe XXXV  is as follows:

ANNEXE XXXV LETTRE D’ENTENTE RELATIVE AUX RESPONSABILITÉS FAMILIALES La CSQ (or FAE) d’une part, et le gouvernement du Québec représenté par le Conseil du trésor d’autre part, reconnaissent par la présente, la relation d’interdépendance entre la famille et le travail. En ce sens, les parties favorisent la prise en compte de la dimension de la conciliation famille-travail dans l’organisation du travail. À cet effet, les parties à la présente encouragent les parties sectorielles, régionales ou locales, selon le cas, à une meilleure conciliation des responsabilités parentales et familiales avec celles du travail, dans la détermination des conditions de travail et leur application.

It is not clear to me nor to my colleagues why the 8000 QPAT teachers have been denied this important step towards creating better working conditions for our union members, the majority of whom are women. I hope you will look into this personally and make sure that QPAT teachers have this recognition that 100,000 of our francophone colleagues have.

I will be doing my best to inform the membership of my union about this problem.

Sincerely,

Katharine Cukier

Update: to sign a petition demanding equal treatment for teachers click here

November 22, 2015

CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents

In the Motherhood host Trixie Dumont discusses the Couillard government’s attacks on public education with teachers Fernand Deschamps, Robert Green and Chantal Kers and parent Stacey Dumont.

November 3, 2015

Robert Green speaks with CBC’s Sue Smith about recent developments in negotiations with Quebec’s teachers

(the last 30 seconds of the interview unfortunately get cut off)

October 27, 2015

Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

October 25, 2015

Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.

This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.

As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:

“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”

WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.
Continue reading

October 25, 2015

When it comes to funding education, Quebec’s Liberals govern like sociopaths

By Robert Green | Published Oct 14, 2015 by Ricochet.media

Government appears indifferent to the harm their policies cause to students

As public outrage over the Quebec Liberal government’s attacks on public education has grown, so too has the movement to surround schools in human chains on the first day of each month. Oct. 1 saw this movement not only grow to over 300 schools throughout Quebec, but also include a significant number of schools in the province’s English school boards which were participating for the first time.

The aim of this action was to send a clear message to Premier Philippe Couillard and his cadre: parents, teachers and support staff are united against the government’s attempt to balance its books on the backs of students. Of particular concern are proposals to remove limits on class size and cut a whole range of supports for students with special needs.

While the potent symbolism of community after community uniting to form a human chain in defence of their schools was not enough to persuade the government to change course, it did at least force the minister of education to publicly defend his actions.

His comments were disturbing to say the least. When asked why he would not restore funding for support for students with special needs, Education Minister François Blais stated that given Quebec’s current budget situation, such an investment would be “maladroit.” The minister was essentially saying that to leave in place existing supports for students with special needs would be “awkward” or “clumsy.”

A government of sociopaths?

Blais’ choice of words has left me with a serious question: Is Quebec’s Liberal government a government of sociopaths? Continue reading

October 8, 2015

Robert Green discusses a range of issues facing Quebec’s teachers with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff

Interview from the October 7th edition of CKUT’s The Wednesday morning after.

Click here to download

October 1, 2015

Westmount High’s October 1st Human Chain

Today parents, teachers, support staff, alumni and students formed a human chain outside of Westmount High School to send a message to the Couillard government that the public is united against its irresponsible cuts to education and its proposals to remove limits on class size as well as various forms of support for students with special needs.

Much thanks to the teachers of Westmount Park Elementary for helping to make this event a success! Also thanks to The Montreal Gazette for producing this great video!

September 23, 2015

Montreal teachers’ pressure tactics are taking a toll

Bt Katherine Wilton | Published September 22 by The Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

Teachers are angry that Quebec wants to increase class sizes in high schools and elementary schools and is proposing to no longer consider whether a child has a learning disability when calculating class sizes. A few months before negotiations began in March on a new collective agreement with the province’s teachers, former Education Minister Yves Bolduc told reporters there was no clear link between smaller class sizes and student performance, citing a 2008 Université Laval study. The government also wants to increase the work week from 32 to 35 hours and is offering a three-per cent wage increase over five years.

To read the entire story and view the two videos of WHS teachers explaining why they are taking work action: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-teachers-pressure-tactics-are-taking-a-toll

 

September 21, 2015

Is striking an effective tactic for Quebec’s teachers?

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
–  Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity

By Robert Green

There is no question that the teachers of Quebec are angry. Already the lowest paid teachers in Canada, the government’s current salary offer would see Quebec teachers falling even further behind with their inflation-adjusted salaries decreasing by about 7% over 5 years. Of even greater concern is the fact that government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects our working conditions and the learning conditions of our students, from limits on class size to a range of supports for students with special needs.

It is an understatement to suggest that the teachers of Quebec want actions that will pressure government to back away from its most regressive proposals. Most teachers are ready to make personal sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. The question for Quebec’s teachers is: what sort of action will actually be effective in achieving this goal?

A grassroots push to work-to-rule

Last spring the members of the Montreal Teachers Association passed a motion in their annual general meeting stating that the action the members wanted to pursue was a work-to-rule campaign. The sentiment expressed by many MTA members was that the large number of unpaid hours worked by Quebec’s teachers was an enormous source of power. Given that teachers are not paid for enough hours to adequately do their job, withdrawing the volunteer labour done by teachers was seen by many as an effective way to create pressure within the system while avoiding the spectre of back-to-work legislation. Working to rule may not be as effective for other public sector unions but there was a strong sentiment that teachers were in a unique position to create real pressure with this tactic. There was also a feeling expressed that it would be far easier to build and maintain public support through a work-to-rule campaign than through a strike action which would create major inconveniences for families. Continue reading

September 16, 2015

Sample letters to Couillard

With government proposing to remove current limits on class size and various supports for students with special needs, the teachers of Quebec need the support of parents. Below are links to two editable form letters parents can use to express their discontent to government. The first letter is for all parents. The second letter is written specially for parents of students with special needs. Simply download the .doc file by clicking on the link, open the file, add your name and the date, edit the “he/she”‘s and any other edits you’d like, sign the bottom and its ready to send. For the contact info of all Quebec MNA’s click here.

  1. form letter for parents
  2. form letter for parents_special needs