Posts tagged ‘Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT)’

September 12, 2013

Podcast: Philosopher Charles Taylor, Teacher Robert Green and CPE Director Paula Lamarre Discuss the PQ’s Secular Charter on CBC Daybreak

Click here to download or listen to the podcast

April 30, 2013

On QPAT’s Perks and Pension Plans: An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

By Jim Wilson,

QPAT’s Provincial Council provides you with the opportunity to address issues, some of which I raised in an earlier open letter. I was pleased to see the Liaison provided an updated history of QPAT/PAPT. Why are the English Catholic teachers [PACT] completely omitted from the QPAT story?

Maybe it is an opportunity for you to explain Lombard’s pension deals.  What job was he supposedly offered, that in order to retain him, QPAT were, paradoxically, “obliged” to allow him to ‘retire’, so he could collect both his salary and pension, and give him an additional RRSP ‘sweetener’. However, the mystery deepens when Lombard, whilst on leave of absence as a teacher, and working for PAPT/QPAT, managed to change his teacher pension plan to the administrators’ plan. I do not recall this ever been on any union agenda, it must have been an oversight by a president!!! CARRA regulations have changed, preventing administrators from double–dipping, doesn’t QPAT and Lombard need to follow the CARRA rules too?

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March 18, 2013

An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

Although retired, I maintain a keen interest in education and more particularly teachers’ unions; after reading your LIAISON ‘message’ it is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at your ignorance/naiveté. Maybe, it may be of value to you and your members if you could consider responses to the following questions.

1. QPAT is not 150 yrs old and it is not the same as Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers (PAPT). It came into being only after the abolition of CONFESSIONAL boards, about 14 yrs ago. The Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) is a LINGUISTIC association formed by a subsequent MERGER of two associations, PAPT and PACT (representing Catholic teachers), which were based on religion not language, hence the name change. You are presuming no difference between QPAT and a defunct Protestant organization [PAPT], which was for most of its history run by administrators. It is no more  logical in considering QPAT as though it was a continuation of  PACT  either.

Question:

Will you admit your error and cease promoting the fiction of QPAT’s history?

2. I recall with utter disgust when QPAT Executive Director Alan Lombard informed the executive when, he claimed, he had been offered another job (Did Lombard tell you who wanted to hire him –or is that a secret that can never be revealed?), and threatened to leave unless he was allowed to ‘retire’, start collecting his pension and continue in his QPAT job. Despite certain protests, the board granted him his wish. Your predecessor, Serge Laurendeau, on principle, resigned from the executive. Following a demand by MTA President and QPAT executive member Ruth Rosenfield, QPAT gave him a RRSP in addition to his salary and his pension. The entire episode speaks oceans suggesting Lombard’s lack of commitment to serve teachers and the union movement. He always avoided paying any union dues whenever he could. Despite income which includes a six figure salary, his pension, a RRSP, free dental and health plans plus potential overtime pay, last year he still received a $7,000 pay increase. His income is about triple that of an average teacher.

Questions:

[a] Why did you support his salary increase last year?  Is this your idea of serving teachers, or are you more concerned with the QPAT staff?

[b] Were you aware of Lombard’s past actions?  Do you think those actions smacked of a disloyal and selfish employee, who should have been asked to leave?

[c] Would you have supported Ms. Rosenfield’s demand to give him a RRSP?

[d] Given his significant salary increase, will you ask that his  RRSP benefit be reconsidered?

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May 3, 2012

Comparing Quebec’s Provincial Teachers Federations – Part Two

By Robert Green

Part one of this article looked at what Quebec’s three teachers federation – QPAT, FSE and FAE – are doing to keep their members informed of ongoing developments in the province affecting the interests of teachers. Specifically, it compared the website and newletter of each of the organizations. In both cases QPAT’s work did not compare well to either of the Francophone unions.

This article will compare the various public awareness campaigns organized by the three teachers federations and consider the question of union finances before offering some concluding remarks.

Ongoing campaigns?

For many teachers the importance of their labour federation is not only in the negotiation of the provincial contract, but also in the ability of these federations to launch ongoing public awareness campaigns to raise the profile of teachers and defend public education. Here again we see significant differences between the three federations.

Evidence of ongoing campaigns on the FSE’s website is relatively sparse. That said there are two examples. The FSE has a campaign on students with special needs and another less developed campaign on raising the profile of the teaching profession. Both of these, however, date back to 2010. There is also some information about the reform dating back to 2008.

The FAE’s site is filled with examples of ongoing campaigns. For example, on the issue of the integration of special needs students, it has founded “La Coalition pour une intégration réussie” involving an impressive number of organizations including the Quebec Association of Pediatricians. The FAE’s “Platforme pédagogique” features an extensive critique of Quebec’s pedagogical reform as well concrete suggestions for fixing the problems with Quebec’s curriculum. Its site also features campaign materials on such things as violence against teachers and problems with the new report cards. It even produced this youtube video on the new report cards:

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April 25, 2012

Comparing Quebec’s Provincial Teachers Federations – Part One

By Robert Green

Teachers in Quebec contribute a significant portion of each pay cheque to their provincial association. For teachers in Quebec’s English school system, that association is the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT). Teachers in Quebec’s French school system are divided between two federations. The biggest and oldest of these is the CSQ-affiliated Fédération des syndicates de l’enseignment (FSE). Due to a number of concerns over such things as Quebec’s infamous pedagogical reform and the 2005 collective agreement, nine teachers unions, largely representing teachers on and around the Island of Montreal, voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the FSE and form la Fédération autonome de l’enseignment (FAE).

A cursory comparison of the work being done by these unions to advance and defend the interests of teachers raises serious questions about whether teachers in Quebec’s English school system are being adequately represented by QPAT.

Part one of this article will look at what the three Federations are doing to keep their members informed. Part two, which will appear next week, will focus on the finances and ongoing campaigns of the three federations.

Latest news?

One of the important roles played by teachers unions in Quebec and indeed across Canada is to keep their members informed of political developments affecting the interests of teachers and other public sector workers.

To that end both the FSE and FAE have regularly updated sections of their websites dedicated to the latest news. The FSE has both an ‘Actualité’ section, a press review called ‘À la une’ and a ‘quoi de neuf?’ section. The FAE has a ‘Nouvelles’ section with an impressive array of articles on a wide range of issues affecting teachers. In both cases, the websites contain commentary on the most recent issues. For example, within days of Francois Legault’s recent proposal to impose a professional association on Quebec’s teachers, both sites provided readers with news and analysis on this important question. Similarly, both sites provided analysis of the provincial budget and the Minister’s recently announced anti-bullying campaign.

QPAT’s ‘Latest News’ section on the other hand contains all of six posts, the most recent being nearly a year old, from May 2011.

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April 15, 2012

Sign on! Open letter to Quebec’s labour federations to continue and intensify their support of the movement against tuition hikes

By Robert Green

Teachers in Quebec’s English school boards may be somewhat disappointed by the fact that their unions have been virtually silent on the unprecedented and historic movement against tuition fees that has swept the province in recent months.  After a motion to support this movement was proposed at a recent general meeting, Montreal Teachers Association president Ruth Rosenfield even helped ensure the motion wouldn’t pass by suggesting that a large number of members she had spoken to were actually in favour of the tuition hikes. Her supporters then dutifully voted that the union not take a position at all.

However, for those teachers that care that their students may one day be denied access to post-secondary education and that want Quebec’s labour unions to take a more active role in supporting the movement for accessible education, there is now an open letter that individuals can sign-on to in order to show their support. The letter is calling on Quebec’s labour federations to assume their historic role as defenders of social justice and to call for a national mobilization that could perhaps begin with a one-day Quebec-wide general strike.

To sign on to this open letter, click the following link: http://www.lettre-aux-syndicats.info/

 

March 14, 2012

What’s Wrong With QPAT’s Health Insurance?

By Robert Green

Mention ‘health insurance’ to any group of teachers within Quebec’s English school system and one is likely to hear complaints. There seems to be a widespread perception that this is an expensive plan for the coverage received. Some who have investigated the cost and coverage of individual health insurance plans offered by various companies have even claimed that they would be better off with such a plan rather than remaining with the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers’ (QPAT’s) group insurance.

For these reasons, whenever the subject of health insurance has come up at the Montreal Teachers Association (MTA) reps assembly, a heated discussion has usually followed as reps attempt to express some of the frustration they hear from their members. Some of this frustration has been directed at Industrial Alliance and at the consulting company Mercer that recommends the use of Industrial Alliance to QPAT. Attempts by the MTA executive and professional staff to explain the role of these two organizations and the technical side of how the plan works seem to have been lost in the din of members expressing their frustrations about the plan.

In order to address this problem so that a more informed debate could take place, MTA Executive Assistant John Winrow invited many of those who had expressed concern about the plan to a meeting at the MTA office with a representative from QPAT.

Our Plan

The first thing that was explained at this meeting, that is important for the members of QPAT to understand, is that we the members of QPAT are the owners of this plan. This plan is not controlled by Industrial Alliance. We the members, through our association, QPAT, have determined what the coverage will be and how much it will cost. The role of Industrial Alliance is merely to administer the plan that we have created. Mercer, which was presented as one of the most knowledgeable and reputable insurance consultants in the province, is hired to ensure that the fees Industrial Alliance charges for this service are competitive.

The fact that this plan is owned and controlled by our own provincial association should mean that this is a plan that most teachers feel good about. As the meeting progressed several pieces of information came to light which could help explain why this is not the case.

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January 19, 2012

Robert Green interviewed on CJAD about his Jan 17th op-ed

To download a podcast of Tommy Schnurmacher’s January 19 interview with Robert Green on his Gazette op-ed, “English schools more like guinea pigs than labs for ‘innovations’”, click below:

CJAD Interview on January 17 Op-Ed (To download as mp3 right-click and select ‘save link as’)

January 17, 2012

English schools more like guinea pigs than labs for ‘innovations’

By Robert Green

The following op-ed appeared in the January 17 edition of the Montreal Gazette

In a recent interview with The Gazette (“An ‘ideas lab’ for education,” Opinion, Jan. 9), the retired chief negotiator for the Quebec English School Boards Association, Ben Huot, talks about innovations within the English education system.

Mr. Huot touts, as a positive innovation, the fact that teachers in Quebec’s English school boards will now receive extra remuneration if they supervise extracurricular activities. He neglects to mention that if the money committed for this program this year were divided equally among all the teachers of Quebec’s English school boards, each teacher would receive about $75 per year in additional pay. In future years, this will increase to the mighty sum of about $300 annually. In theory, a teacher could earn up to eight per cent of his or her pay in such bonuses, but this would necessitate large numbers of his or her colleagues receiving nothing. The real experiment here is seeing what the introduction of such competitive policies will do to the sense of collegiality and the level of collaboration among teachers in Quebec’s English system.

Mr. Huot also fails to mention that teachers in Quebec’s French school boards are already remunerated for extracurricular activities; such work is factored into the calculation of their overall workload. In other words, when teachers in the French system take on extracurricular activities, their teaching load is reduced and they have more time for course planning and marking.

One would be hard-pressed to find a single teacher in Quebec’s English system who would not, in an instant, exchange the pittance being promised for extracurricular work for the much-needed additional prep time enjoyed by teachers in Quebec’s French system. To state, as Mr. Huot does, that teachers’ unions in the French system would want to “ride the coattails” of the English on this issue is absurd. If anything, the leadership of the provincial English teachers’ union should be explaining why they agreed to an “innovation” that is clearly worse than what exists in the French system, and that will inevitably be used by the government as a rationale to take away the advantages enjoyed by its teachers.

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December 15, 2011

Is QPAT Hiding the Implications of Bill 88 From Its Members?

By Robert Green

Back in 2008, before the Quebec Liberals passed Bill 88, QPAT submitted a brief to the National Assembly outlining its position on the Bill. It warned that the Bill would bring Quebec down the same path of “results-based testing” that held an “iron grip” on the US education system. It cited the failure of such policies to improve results and outlined the many reasons why holding schools exclusively responsible for the success of their students is unjust. The Brief also questioned the lack of government funding being offered to attain the proposed improvements. In short, the brief presented Bill 88 as having serious negative implications for both teachers and students.

Indeed, the QPAT Brief raised many of the points discussed in the article posted more recently on this blog, “Is No Child Left Behind Coming to Quebec?

However, since this Bill was passed in 2008 QPAT’s serious concern about its implications seems to have all but disappeared. QPAT has done next to nothing to inform either its members or the public at large of the Bill’s dire implications. The first mention of Bill 88 to the members came in the June 2008 issue of QPAT’s Liaison newsletter. Gone were the dire warnings about the “iron-grip of results-based testing”. Instead the members were soothed with the following: “Some concerns about this bill exist, but it may provide for greater consistency among school boards in implementing certain MELS policies”. Exactly what those concerns were was never mentioned.

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December 8, 2011

Salary Provisions of the New Contract Demystified – Part Two

By Robert Green

Part one of this article discussed the core guaranteed salary increases in the current collective agreement. Now comes the fun part: explaining the rather convoluted formula for potential additional increases and what this all means in the big picture.

In addition to the guaranteed 6 percent over five years the agreement also contains several additional increases triggered by growth in Quebec’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

What the heck is ‘nominal’ GDP?

The GDP is the basic measure of economic growth. There are two ways economists look at the GDP. ‘Real’ GDP presents a picture of economic growth adjusted for the effects of inflation. As inflation changes from year to year this allows economists to compare one year’s economic growth with another. This is the most commonly referred to measure of economic growth. ‘Nominal’ GDP on the other hand is a measure of economic growth that includes the effects of inflation (on all goods not simply those used to determine the Consumer Price Index). Therefore nominal GDP can be understood as a composite of real GDP plus inflation.

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December 1, 2011

Salary Provisions of the New Contract Demystified – Part One

By Robert Green

Last fall members of the majority of Quebec’s public sector unions voted to approve an agreement on salary that had been negotiated by the leaders of the Common Front.

Prior to the vote, the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) which represents teachers in Quebec’s English school boards had done very little to ensure that its members clearly understood the proposed deal. The usual mail-out was forgone in favour of a link on QPAT’s website and very little time was made available for members to study the details of the deal before being asked to vote on it. Although a more detailed explanation was provided at the Montreal Teachers Association (MTA) general meeting, very few attended this meeting. As a result Quebec’s teachers, for the most part, are left with a salary agreement whose true implications few understand.

In two parts, this article will attempt to remedy this situation by demystifying and contextualizing this agreement that we will all have to live with until 2015. Part one will discuss the context of the agreement and its core guaranteed elements. Part two will explore the possibility of additional salary increases being triggered and look at the effects of inflation.

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November 24, 2011

Were Teachers Adequately Informed? QPAT and the Democratic Process

By Robert Green

Teachers in Quebec’s English school boards contribute a significant amount of their hard-earned wages each year to fund the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT). In doing so, they expect QPAT to work actively to defend and advance their interests. They also expect to be part of any major decisions QPAT takes on their behalf. This is particularly true with regard to the process of negotiating and approving the collective agreements that affect all of our lives as teachers in such a direct way.

However, with the details of the most recently negotiated contract coming to light many teachers are beginning to feel that they were not adequately informed about the details of this agreement at the time that they voted. A previous two-part article entitled “Surprise! The Collective Agreement We Voted On Is Not the One We Got!” outlined in detail some of these ‘surprise’ changes.

This article will take a closer look at the democratic process by which this contract was approved and the specific information teachers were given in order to make this decision.

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November 10, 2011

Surprise! The Collective Agreement We Voted On Is Not the One We Got! Part Two: The New Systems for the Payment of Year-end Bonuses and for Department Heads

By Robert Green

Part one of this article focused on two of the ‘surprise’ provisions in the new collective agreement: the new system for calculating sick days and the new system for salary deductions. Part two will look at the new systems for the payment of year-end bonuses and for department heads. While the positive or negative implications of these four provisions may be debatable, what is not debatable is the fact that teachers were not given adequate information about these provisions prior to voting to approve the collective agreement. Further, since the contract came into effect last year teachers received no warning from their union that many of these changes were scheduled to be implemented at the beginning of this year. As a result, teachers have been scrambling to react to these changes without having a clear picture as to their implications.

New System for the Payment of Year-end Bonuses

Appendix XXVI of the new contract contains provisions for teachers to receive a year-end bonus by way of one of two provisions.

The first provision is referred to as “recognition supplements” and can result in a bonus of up to 8% (which as you’ll see in Table 1 below is nearly impossible). Borrowing the language of corporate reformers in the US, the appendix states that such supplements will be granted based on “value-added” for taking on additional responsibilities not described in the collective agreement and for supervising activities that are not part of the student timetable. It then outlines an elaborate credit system for different ECA’s (extra-curricular activities) that seems to be based on the principle that a half hour of ECA supervision will result in one credit. The credits will be approved by the school’s staff council and then sent to the board level committee that will prepare a report of each teacher’s credits that the board will use to disperse the funds by June 1.

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November 5, 2011

Surprise! The Collective Agreement We Voted On Is Not the One We Got!: Part One: New Systems for Calculating Sick Days and Salary Deductions

By Robert Green

With the text of the new collective agreement now in circulation, teachers in Quebec’s English school system are coming to realize that this agreement contains numerous important changes they were not aware of. They were not adequately informed of these changes when their union leaders recommended they vote for the agreement. Nor have the details of these provisions been adequately explained to them at any point since the contract came into effect last year. Now teachers are scrambling to react to the implementation of these changes without fully understanding their implications.

This article will attempt to outline some of the implications of the surprise changes that have been noticed so far. Part one will focus on the new system for calculating sick days and the new system for salary deductions. The second part of this article will focus on the new system for the payment of year-end bonuses and the new system for department heads.

New System for Calculating Sick Days

As teachers were being asked to fill out their personal presence time for their administrations, information began to trickle out that this would have implications for their use of sick days. As an MTA memo of Octobre 24 explained, absences would now be deducted by the minute rather than by the day, resulting in a system whereby a teacher could potentially lose more than a single sick-day from their bank of sick-days for phoning in sick on a particular day.

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