Newsletter May 2013

Year End!


By: Dave Najduch, President

It is very difficult to summarize and explain an entire year’s work of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association in few pages. At the very best it, is possible to only touch briefly on the issues and events that stand out or have become important to who we are and what we do as a teacher union.

A significant shift occurred this year in the Human Resources Department at the Winnipeg School Division. After three decades of service to the WSD, the Director of Human Resources, Eugene Gerbasi retired. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his efforts over the years. Many WTA Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Business Agents have worked with Mr. Gerbasi. On behalf of us all, I would like to wish him the best in his retirement.

The new Director of HR is Eric Barnaby. He comes to the position with a background in health care and government. The HR Director’s position is critical in establishing and interpreting many of the WSD policies that directly impact our membership on a day-to-day basis. Beyond the policy side, the WTA meets with or speaks with the HR Director on a regular basis to address concerns and issues as they arise. The new HR Director has also brought to the table a number of interesting concepts that could see the Association and the Division work more closely in the future. On behalf of the WTA, I would like to wish Mr. Barnaby much success in his new position.

The issue of CAP is still one of concern for many members. The WTA and WSD have met regularly this year to discuss specific matters related to the CAP. The Association also conducted a member survey in the fall which had a very good response rate. The results of the survey indicated that the majority of teachers who responded still have concerns with what has been implemented by the WSD. The WSD has indicated that the new ELA CAP Pathway process will be introduced for the Fall along with Fountas and Pinnell. The Vice-President and I will be attending training for the implementation of this prior to the end of this school year. The Association will continue to monitor the CAP process and share member concerns with the WSD as they arise.

The new provincial report card has generated much discussion between the WTA and the WSD during this school year. The information provided by the province has left many unanswered questions which we have tried to address with the Division. We are still waiting for responses in a number of areas.

I was invited to attend the Divisional in-service that was held March 8, 2013 for schools which had not been part of the pilot. At this day long in-service, the Association also received a WSD Report Card Binder.

The WTA has continued to express concerns related to a wide range of report card issues including:

  • The increase in workload required to produce anecdotal comments for those who teach large numbers of students.
  • The increase in workload required to produce anecdotal comments for each subject area.
  • Clarification on the length of anecdotal comments on the term end and year-end report cards.
  • The apparent inconsistency of information and training being provided to school staffs.
  • The ability of the WSD computer network to handle the higher volume of traffic once all members are on-line next school year.

We will continue to seek clarification and support for the membership as the WSD implements the new reports across the entire Division in the 2013-2014 school year.

The school visit process has continued this year. I would like to thank Nathan Martindale for arranging these visits. At the writing of this report we have been to 64 locations and have spoken with just over 875 WTA members. In many locations the visits have moved away from a standard presentation and now follow a question and answer format. The single most talked about issue during these meetings is the new provincial report card. By year end, the WTA will have completed approximately 90 school/site visits and spoken to over 1000 members in this manner.

I would like to thank the WTA Council Representatives who have assisted in arranging the meetings and all those members who have attended the meetings. These sessions are an excellent way to stay in touch with what is going on in schools.

The WTA spent a great deal of time this year working with the Division to implement the provincial legislation related to violence, harassment and bullying in the workplace. This included reviewing the WSD policy draft, working with HR to develop and refine the incident reporting procedures, reviewing the investigation process and discussing how the membership, as a whole would be trained in this area.

At its core, the new legislation makes it very clear that the employer has an obligation to ensure the workplace is safe. This means the WSD needs to take action immediately when incidents are reported through the Workplace Safety and Health process. That action includes an investigation and then putting in place procedures to ensure the worker is safe. The new legislation can hold the employer criminally liable if appropriate action is not taken when serious incidents are reported.

The hardest part for many WTA members has been getting them into the habit of reporting incidents when they occur. Members believe it is part of their job to be physically assaulted or verbally bullied on a day-to-day basis. The province has made it clear this is not part of any employee’s job and that the employer has a legal obligation to protect members in the workplace.

September found the WTA Executive one member short after the resignation of Shahram Hakimelahi. Shahram had served for a number of years and his resignation was accepted with regret. His good humour and hard work were missed. To fill the vacant Secretary position an election occurred at Council and Kristin Insull was elected. The vacant Executive position that was created by Kristin’s move was filled by the candidate who received the next highest number of votes in the WTA 2012 April Election, Orysya Petryshyn.

I would like to thank the Executive for their efforts over this past school year. The work is by no means glamorous, but without their efforts the ability of the WTA to serve its members across a wide range of areas would grind to a halt. I have valued their honesty, frank discussions and feedback as we have worked through many issues this year.

Winston Blakey did not stand for re-election to the Executive for the coming year. As Chair of the Group Benefits Committee, Winston worked hard to ensure that the membership continued to receive the best possible benefit plans. We wish him well with his growing family and hope that one day he will consider returning to the Executive to continue the good work he has started.

A special thank you needs to go to those who work in the WTA office every day: Glenda Shepherd, Henry Shyka, and Nathan Martindale. The work of these individuals is at the core of the services that are delivered on a daily basis to both active and retired members. I continue to appreciate their wise counsel. It is a pleasure to be in a workplace where you can have a “good laugh” every now and then and still get the job done.

Negotiations Update

By: Nathan Martindale, Vice-President

So it looks like the weather outside transitioned from Winter to Summer in less than a week and I have no problem with that! I hope that the sunny days continue right through June, July and August. I recently heard David Suzuki on the radio speaking about a program called “Canada’s 30 X 30 Nature Challenge” which encourages participants to spend thirty minutes outside every day for 30 days. The website lists information regarding the health benefits of spending time outside including: reduced anxiety, decreased stress, increased energy, increased immunity, increased Vitamin D production and increased weight loss and fitness. I believe this is a fantastic idea and I started my thirty day challenge this past weekend lounging in the back yard. I encourage all members to spend some time outside every day, especially after the long, cold winter we endured! We all know how short the summers can be in Manitoba, so get out there and enjoy being outdoors!

Over the past two years, I have been collecting information and soliciting ideas from members in regards to the next round of Collective Bargaining. During school visits members ask questions, engage in conversations, and make suggestions. Members have also been contacting the WTA Office by phone and email. Starting in September, members may submit proposals to the Negotiations Committee in a formal manner as outlined in WTA Council Policy C1 – Collective Agreement:

WTA Policy C1 Collective Agreement

1. Timeline for Negotiations Package Preparation

A.   November

  • solicit ideas from association members, schools
  • deadline for submission of proposals set by Negotiations Committee
  • develop a negotiations package


  • draft package presented to Special Council meeting for questions and answers; suggestions for consideration by the Negotiations Committee
  • Negotiations Committee reviews suggestions from Council and finalizes package


  • Council approves the negotiations package

B. That the timeline be well publicized.

A Negotiations Proposal Form will be posted to the WTA Website in the fall of 2013 to meet the requirements of the above policy. Members will be encouraged to fill the form out and send it to the WTA Office. These proposals will then be reviewed by the Negotiations Committee. In the meantime, members should continue to contact the WTA Office by phone or email with suggestions and proposals related to Negotiations.

I would also encourage all members to read the Collective Agreement, which can be found on the WTA website here. If you don’t have the time or desire to read the entire document, ensure that you become familiar with the articles that have direct impact on your work day:

If you have any questions about the Collective Agreement or the Negotiations process, please call the WTA Office at 204-831-7014 or email me

Retirement Reception

By: Terry Willerton, Reception Committee Chair

When…June 12th 2013

Where…Shaarey Zedek Synagoque

Doors open at 6:00 PM

Speeches and welcoming – 6:45 PM

Contact Terry Willerton at:

To reserve a table for your school/retiree

General Information


  1. Please remember that the staff vacancy bulletins will start to appear online and in print in May. They are available for teachers to read when they wish, however you still must adhere to the timelines provided.
  2. If you are contemplating maternity leave during the summer months and need more information please contact either Henry Shyka or Nancy Kerr – 888-7961 regarding Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

Manulife Extended Travel Coverage

Please be advised that for WTA members who are anticipating extended periods of travel (i.e. those individuals who are going on Deferred Salary Leave Plan (DSLP)) Manulife will only cover the extended travel if individuals have the prior approval of Manitoba Health to extend provincial health coverage for the length of their travel. If you do not obtain Manitoba Health’s approval for the full duration of your travel youwill not have Manulife’s extended travel coverage for that portion for which provincial coverage does not exist. In this event, we suggest the purchase of individual travel insurance.

Council Meeting Dates for 2013/2014 (5:45 PM – McMaster House Arnett Auditorium unless otherwise stated. Snack will be provided in the lobby outside the auditorium.)

September 16th, 2013 Note: 4:30 PM – Dinner
October 15th, 2013 Note: 4:45 PM – Mini-PD Session
November 18th, 2013
December 9th, 2013
January 16th, 2014 Note: 5:00 PM – Mini-PD Session
February 19th, 2014 Note: 4:45 PM – Mini-PD Session
March 18th, 2014 Note: Election Forum
April 21st, 2014
May 15th, 2014 Note: WTA AGM
June 9th, 2014 Note: WTA DSA Reception
WTA Retirement Reception – June 11th, 2014 (TBC)

Electoral Units not represented at the March Council meeting:

Argyle, Children of the Earth, David Livingstone, DLC, Dufferin, George V, Glenelm, Interdivisional Student Services, Lord Selkirk, Luxton, Queenston, River Elm, Robertson, Rockwood, Sacre Coeur, Shaughnessy Park, Sister MacNamara, Weston, WAEC – 700 Elgin Ave. and Wolseley

The views expressed in articles in the Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Association

Safety Services Manitoba SafeWork Conference

By: Kristin Insull, WTA Secretary

On Thursday, January 24, I attended Safety Services Manitoba SafeWork Conference. Of the sessions I attended, the most relevant was about the use of social media by organizations or business as a way of reaching their membership or clientele. The presenter was Julie Horbal, from Changemakers, a local communications firm. (

It is evident that the face of the WTA is changing. The population is increasingly younger, and as demands of the profession rise, the involvement and engagement of our members seems to wane. While I believe that in a moment of crisis our membership would band together, it is clearly not prudent to wait for a situation like what has happened in Ontario to get our members interested and engaged in the business of their local teachers’ association. Primarily for this reason, I believe that the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association would be well served by being active in social media. In the interest of brevity, I will limit my discussion of this idea to Twitter.

A quick glance on Twitter shows we would be in good company. The Manitoba Teachers’ Society Twitter account lists ten active local associations using Twitter to reach their members, as well as several school divisions, including our own. The number of followers vary and are no doubt tied to how effectively the organizations are using social media – both considering what kind of information they are conveying through Twitter, and how they have communicated to members that this is a valid and authentic mechanism for interaction.

Common reasons for shying away from social media were discussed during the presentation. They sounded very familiar – fear of criticism, the time required, concerns about privacy. While these all hold some validity, they are not as severe as most probably think.

Concerned about public criticism? The WTA does not shy away from publishing contentious material in the online newsletter – what difference would it be if it were published as a tweet? Perhaps this concern would be mitigated by having a filter for tweets, just as the material for the newsletter must pass a check.

Concerned about time? Obviously, finding another way to interact with members would take time. Social media has a steep learning curve, and if made a regularly scheduled responsibility of a member of the Executive (ie. Vice President), it would eventually become as routine as ordering food for meetings.

Concerned about privacy? Just as no sensitive information is published in the newsletter, no sensitive information would be shared via Twitter.

Other than sharing information like what is typically in the newsletter, here are some other ideas of what may be relevant to share with our members:

  • Reminders about meetings, materials to bring to meetings, and actions required as a result of council direction
  • Relevant articles – teacher welfare, wellness, professional development, bargaining
  • Political updates and information
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Requests for information, for committee members

As an Executive, I think we are in an interesting position. Though our committees struggle for membership, and our positions are routinely acclaimed, attendance at council meetings is steady. The members are interested, and just seem to need a little extra encouragement to get more involved. Participation in the rise of social media may be an inexpensive and efficient way of meeting them halfway, and politicizing our members before it becomes a crisis situation.

Portable Ladder Safety

Safe Work
No. 177 December 2008

You should always maintain 3-point contact!

Potential hazard:

Unsafe use of portable ladders can lead to falls, often resulting in severe injury or even death.

Portable ladders including step, extension, and trestle ladders are the most commonly used types of ladders in industry today.

How to control the hazard:

Falls from portable ladders can be prevented by:

    • Checking the ladders for defects before each and every use
    • Following safe work procedures Checking the ladder Before using a ladder, you should always inspect it carefully.
    • Check rails for cracks, checks, bends, or defects.
    • Check for broken or missing rungs.
    • Check the braces.
    • Step Ladder – make sure the ladder is fully open and the spreaders are locked.
    • Are the feet worn or broken?
    • Is the base of the ladder placed on a solid surface?
    • Look for anchor points at the top and bottom of the ladder.
    • Look at where the top of the ladder is resting.
    • What is above where you are working? Are there any hazards (ex. overhead electrical wires)
    • Check for other work being performed near you.
    • If repaired, make sure it has been repaired and restored to its original design specifications.
    • Before moving a ladder, check for material or tools left on the ladder. Safe Work Procedures

You must develop safe work procedures for using portable ladders. The following lists contain some dos and don’ts that your safe work procedures should include:

Do Don’t
  • Ensure workers are trained in safe work procedures
  • Inspect the ladder before every use
  • Place the ladder on a firm surface
  • Make sure the ladder is level and secure to prevent side-slip or kick out from base
  • Store ladders in a clean, dry area
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down
  • Use only grade #1 ladders for construction
  • Keep three points of contact when on a ladder (see illustration above)
  • Maintain ladders according to manufacture’s guideline
  • Select a ladder that is appropriate for your task
  • Keep your bode within the rails of the ladder while working on it
  • Watch out for overhead power lines when using a ladder
  • Have a second person hold the bottom of a long ladder, especially when tying or untying an extension ladder
  • Extend an extension ladder 1 meter (3 ft) beyond the top surface the ladder is resting upon.
  • Space the bottom of an extension ladder ¼ of its height at the base (see picture above)
  • Dispose of a ladder if broken, worn, or damaged beyond repair
  • Use a worn or damaged ladder
  • Paint a wooden ladder (this covers up imperfections)
  • Carry tools and materials up ladders
  • Use an extension ladder as a platform. A ladder is design with vertical strength, not horizontal
  • Use a step ladder as an extension ladder
  • Over-extend an extension ladder
  • Have more than one person on a ladder at the same time
  • Use a ladder in high winds
  • Use a ladder on a scaffold
  • Stand on the top step of a step ladder
  • Use a metal or aluminum ladder near electrical power
  • Use ladders as scaffold uprights
  • Use the rungs of a ladder for a winch point
  • Place the top of a ladder a flexible or unstable surface (ex. against a window, or placing the rung against a beam)
  • Leave a ladder unattended for extended periods or overnight

Additional Information and Requirements

      • A portable ladder means a ladder that can be readily moved or carried (usually consists of side rails jointed at internals by steps, rungs, cleats or rear braces).
      • Portable ladders are designed for one person use to meet the requirements of the person, the task, and the environment.
      • For short duration work the worker must ensure a portable ladder exceeding 6 meters (20 feet in length) that is not secured at the top, or where the ladder could move, is held in place by another worker while the ladder is being used.
      • An employer must ensure that a commercially manufactured portable ladder used at a workplace complies with the applicable requirements of the standards referenced in the box below. Employers must also ensure that ladders are used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and safe operating instructions.

Reference to legal requirements under workplace safety and health legislation:

  • Entrances, Exits, Stairways and Ladders: Manitoba Regulation 217/2006 Part 13 Additional workplace safety and health information available at:
  • CSA Standard CAN3-Z11-M81 (R2005), Portable Ladders
  • ANSI Standard A14.1-2000, American National Standard for Ladders – Wood – Safety Requirements
  • ANSI Standard A14.2-2000, American National Standard for Ladders – Portable Metal – Safety Requirements
  • ANSI Standard A14.5-2000, American National Standard for Ladders – Portable Reinforced Plastic – Safety Requirements