Newsletter January 2014
Canadian Teachers’ Federation Annual General Meeting
July 7th and 8th, 2014 – Winnipeg, MB
By: Dave Najduch, WTA President
The short reprieve of warm ( -5) weather has passed and we find ourselves once again in the deep freeze. The cars start more slowly, if at all. You need to wear all those layers to stay warm and once again indoor recess is upon us. The good news is that every day, we find ourselves one day closer to the warmth and good weather of the spring season.
The following article is reprinted with the permission of the Louis Riel Teachers’ Association and reflects a growing interest across the province in supporting the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in Winnipeg this July.
As teachers, we always look to the future as we reflect upon the past. Much of this reflection occurs on an individual basis in our classrooms and offices. We examine what we have achieved and how we can build upon our achievements. However, when the opportunity to collaborate, interact and work with other teachers presents itself, the power of reflection and planning for the future increases exponentially. These opportunities are truly examples of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
This is especially true in the area of teacher advocacy. Teachers working together, reflecting upon our achievements of the past while we plan for the future. Teachers’ organizations firmly believe in the importance of the work teachers do and the importance of supporting teachers in their work! This belief is shared by your colleagues in the Louis Riel Teachers’ Association, the 15 000 members of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the approximately 200 000 members of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) advocates for teachers across the country and deals with national issues affecting teachers in Canada. The CTF unites teachers in Canada and is recognized as a respected voice for teachers on the national stage. The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is also a leading organization in international development work through Education International which represents more than 30 million education workers around the world. This year, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society is pleased to have the privilege of hosting the 94th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in Winnipeg from July 9 through July 11. The last time the CTF AGM was in this province was 1994, so this is a prestigious opportunity for the teachers of Manitoba.
The CTF AGM also provides a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers in Manitoba. For the two days (July 7th and 8th) prior to the start of the CTF AGM, the CTF will host the CTF President’s Forum. At this forum, national issues will be examined and discussed. The theme for the CTF President’s Forum this year is “Equity & Social Justice: The Heart and Soul of Public Education”. This theme should generate much interest and have widespread professional appeal for teachers in Louis Riel and for all teachers in Manitoba.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is enlisting the support of all Local Associations to ensure that the CTF AGM is a great success. If, as a member of the Louis Riel Teachers’ Association, you have some time to volunteer at the CTF AGM, please contact Terry Price at the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Volunteering at the CTF AGM will indeed be an invaluable “opportunity to collaborate, interact and work with other teachers”.
For further information or event details, please contact Terry Price email@example.com or by telephone at 204-831-3072. Outside of Winnipeg, please telephone 1-800-262-8803 and ask for extension 210.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please call me at 204-831-7104 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year!
By: Nathan Martindale, Vice-President
Before the Winter Break, Dave and I visited 25 schools and spoke to nearly 400 members. If we have not been to your school yet, we will be there between now and the end of May. If you are not sure when the WTA visit is for your building, please ask your WTA Council Representative. These visits usually take place over the lunch hour in the staff room or library. Please make every effort to attend the visit to hear important information and to ask questions. We have collected a lot of feedback from our members during the school visits on a wide range of topics related to working in the Division. We ask that you continue to provide this feedback when we visit your school, or by contacting the WTA Office.
Have you ever wanted to become more involved in the WTA? One way is to run for a position on the Executive. It is not as intimidating as you might think, and we are always looking for new Executive members. If you are not sure what sitting on the Executive is all about, feel free to contact any one of us. The contact information can be located on the WTA website. Ask about time commitments, Executive meetings, chairing or sitting on committees and the general experience. Other ways to become more involved in the WTA including serving on committees or volunteering as a Council Representative. Please remember to vote in the upcoming WTA election on April 14th & 15th!
The Negotiations Committee is putting the finishing touches on the opening package. The Executive was able to provide its input in January and the draft proposals will be reviewed at a special session prior to the February Council meeting. The final version of proposals will be considered and voted on at the March Council meeting. Thank you to all of the members who submitted a formal negotiations proposal form in the fall, as well as all the members who have contacted me with their ideas, suggestions and proposals over the past two and a half years. I will continue to provide updates throughout the collective bargaining process.
Preventing Workplace Harassment
New Requirement Effective February 1, 2011
What is harassment?
Changes under the workplace safety and health regulation define harassment as
(a) objectionable conduct that creates a risk to the health of a worker
(b) severe conduct that adversely affects a worker’s psychological or physical well-being.
Conduct is considered to be objectionable if it is based on race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender-determined characteristics, marital status, family status, source of income, political belief, political association, political activity, disability, physical size or weight, age, nationality, ancestry or place of origin.
Conduct is considered to be severe if it could reasonably cause a worker to be humiliated or intimidated and is repeated, or in the case of a single occurrence, has a lasting, harmful effect on a worker.
The objectionable or severe conduct, as noted above, includes a written or verbal comment, a physical act, gesture or display, or any combination of these. It is important to note that the reasonable, day-to-day conduct of an employer or supervisor in managing, guiding or directing workers or the workplace is not harassment. Appropriate employee performance reviews, counselling or discipline by a supervisor or manager is not harassment.
What are my responsibilities?
Workers, supervisors and employers all have a responsibility to not harass anyone in the workplace.
Employers must develop a written policy to prevent harassment in the workplace and must make sure that workers follow this policy. In developing the policy, employers must consult the workplace safety and health committee or representative. If there is no committee or representative, the workers must be consulted.
The written harassment prevention policy must be posted in the workplace in a place where it will be easy for everyone to see.
What must be in the harassment prevention policy?
The harassment prevention policy must include the following statements:
- Every worker is entitled to work free of harassment.
- The employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no worker is subjected to harassment in the workplace.
- The employer will take corrective action respecting any person under the employer’s direction who subjects a worker to harassment.
- The employer will not disclose the name of a complainant or an alleged harasser or the circumstances related to the complaint to any person except where disclosure is
- necessary to investigate the complaint or take corrective action with respect to the complaint, or
- required by law.
- A worker has a right to file a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
- The employer’s harassment prevention policy is not intended to discourage or prevent the complainant from exercising any other legal rights pursuant to any other law.
The harassment prevention policy must also provide information on:
- How to make a harassment complaint.
- How harassment complaints will be investigated.
- How the complainant and alleged harasser will be informed of the results of the investigation.
Reference to legal requirements under workplace safety and health legislation:
- Harassment: Manitoba Regulation 217/2006 Part 10
Additional workplace safety and health information available atwww.safemanitoba.com
- Guideline for Preventing Violence and Harassment in the Workplace
- Sample Harassment Prevention Policy
Lancaster House 2013
By: Kristin Insull, WTA Secretary
Lancaster House – Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference
November 18 – 19, 2013
Vancouver, British Columbia
Mid-November, with the support of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association, I was able to attend two days of Lancaster House’s Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The first day was an interactive and practical session entitled “Getting to Yes, Dealing with No: Negotiation Strategies.” This full day session was led by representatives of both union and management workers, as well as a neutral party. Participants were placed in small groups for the purposes of working through a bargaining scenario, as well as discussing salient issues that arose between “worker” groups and “management” groups. Each group was assigned the alternate perspective to their own experience as a way of seeing the other side, and strategizing best how to achieve desired gains. While the strategies presented are no doubt of value to my experience as a member of the Negotiations Committee of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association, I found one of the most valuable outcomes of the day to be the perspective obtained by discussing current negotiation climates in other parts of the country, and in other industries. There was even a brief wellness activity as we had to walk down 34 flights of stairs when the fire alarm went off mid-day.
The second day consisted of four panels with the same sort of representation as the day before. The four panels were:
“Economic Update: Are we out of the woods?”
“A Tightening Noose? Legislative restrictions on bargaining”
“Climate Change: Bargaining under the heat of political pressure”
“Wining Hearts and Minds: Managing media campaigns during negotiations”
The second panel – “A Tightening Noose? Legislative restrictions on bargaining” was very interesting. One of the primary questions was whether Canadian unions should be concerned with the trends toward decreasing union density and attacks on organized labour in the United States. There was consensus that what is happening south of the border is troublesome, but the Canadian electorate is likely to be more critical of those sorts of anti-union legislation. An illustrative example of the difference in social norms is the negative reaction of the American public to ObamaCare – the fundamental notion of which is providing accessible health care, and a long held point of pride of the Canadian public.
Members of the second panel discussed the negotiations climate between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Government. At present, the BC Liberals are attempting to negotiate a ten-year collective agreement. Their public relations campaign touts this as a way to establish stability in what has been an unstable environment for students and therefore detrimental to their learning. The same sort of issues we deal with in Manitoba have grown into massive issues in BC – class size and composition being one of the most recently newsworthy.
The conversations of this panel reminded me of a talk given by Lisa Mastrobuono of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario at the spring 2013 Collective Bargaining Seminar of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. She spoke of the necessity of member engagement at the local level, at all times, but especially in times of crisis such as the ongoing debacle that is Ontario Teacher politics. A question was asked of her – what can we do in Manitoba to “rally the troops” before a crisis occurs. It seems all local associations, as well as the MTS, are struggling with member engagement. Teachers may not have taken the time to understand the relevance of their union representation. This is especially worrisome in the face of a Provincial Election in 2015 where a change in government could precipitate significant and negative changes to our professional circumstances. It is clear we have our work cut out for us to foster an educated and interested membership.
I would like to thank the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association for the opportunity to attend this conference.
Violence in Schools – Safe Work Tips for Schools
What is violence?
The Workplace Safety and Health Act & Regulation defines violence as:
a) the attempted or actual exercise of physical force against a person;
b) any threatening statement or behaviour that gives a person reasonable cause to believe that physical force will be used against that person.
Threats, gestures, thrown objects, and assaults are examples of violence.
Who is responsible?
Employers are responsible for providing a workplace as safe from the threat of violence as possible. A violence prevention policy must be developed and implemented in cooperation with the school’s joint safety and health committee or worker safety and health representative. Ensure you are aware and knowledgeable of your school’s violence prevention policy, and that it includes:
- Risk assessments
- Prevention procedures
- Worker and supervisor training
- Procedures for reporting and investigating incidents
- Incident follow-up
- Annual report on violent incidents
- Policy review
What do I need to do?
All workers, including school administrators, must be informed of the nature and extent of the risk of violence in the workplace and must be instructed in:
- Recognizing the potential for violence
- Procedures and policies to minimize or control the risk to workers from violence
- Appropriate responses to incidents of violence, and how to obtain assistance
- Reporting, investigating, and documenting incidents of violence
Employers must also inform workers about the risk of violence from persons who have a history of violent behaviour and whom workers are likely to encounter in the course of their work. All workers are responsible for following the violence prevention policies and procedures in their workplace. Immediately report any injuries or unsafe conditions to your supervisor.
For more information
SAFEManitoba.com offers publications to assist you in understanding violence in the workplace and taking steps to prevent it.
You should refer to Part 11 of the Workplace Safety and Health Regulation to ensure that you are meeting your legal requirements for workplace safety and health.
Please see the following publications for more information:
- Guide for Preventing Violence in the Workplace
- Guide for Training Young and New Workers
- Workplace Safety and Health Regulation — Part 11 — Violence in the Workplace
- Part 11 .2 — Employer must assess risk of violence
- Part 11 .4 — Content of a Violence Prevention Policy
- Part 11.7(1) — Annual Report on Violent Incidents
WTA Rumor’s Comedy Club Night
The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Reception Committee Presents…
RUMOR’S COMEDY CLUB
When: February 18th, 2014
Where: Rumour’s Comedy Club – 2025 Corydon Avenue
Who: Any member of The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association
Cost: $2.00 per person all proceeds to Winnipeg Harvest
Snacks will be provided.
Drinks are at your expense.
Limit of 200 tickets available on a first-come first-gets a ticket basis
MORE INFO TO FOLLOW
Maternity/Parental Leave and the Dental Plan…
Please be advised that individuals who go on (or are currently on) Maternity/Parental Leave are covered for the length of the leave 54 weeks.
Maternity/Parental, Adoptive Leave Seminar – Feb. 13, 2014
If you are interested in attending the seminar, please fill out the registration form here.
Life Events for Enrollment Status Change
An employee who had waived coverage initially is eligible to join the plan upon:
- marriage (including common-law after 12 months cohabitation)
- legal separation/divorce
- birth, legal guardianship or adoption of the first eligible child
- death of a spouse or dependent child
- termination of a common-law relationship
- involuntary loss of coverage under spouse’s benefit plan (does not include retirement)
- term teachers whose contracts become permanent
Note: you must enroll within 90 days of the life event occurring.
Manulife: Plan members can log in to Manulife’s Provincial Drug Plans Resource Centre on the Plan Member Secure Site atwww.manulife.ca/planmember to find out if a prescribed drug may be eligible for coverage.
Electoral Units not represented at the December Council meeting:
Absent: APC, Argyle, COTE, DLC, Dufferin, Fort Rouge, George V, Gladstone, Interdivisional Student Support Services, Lord Nelson, Lord Selkirk, Luxton, Norquay, River Elm, Robert H. Smith, Robertson, Rockwood, Wellington, William Whyte, WAEC – 700 Elgin Ave.
The views expressed in articles in the Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Association.
Deadline for submissions for the February WTA Newsletter is: February 10, 2014.