Newsletter September 2010

School Trustee Elections

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

It is that time in the life cycle of school boards for trustee elections to take place. This part of the municipal process is not always high profile in the minds of many voters, but this is why you should be paying some attention. School boards establish much of the policy framework in which students and teachers work. They set the local taxation levy and ultimately are responsible for the wages and benefits paid to all employee groups.

The WTA represents 3000 potential voters in the coming trustee elections. We do not all live within The Winnipeg School Division boundary, but we are able to vote for trustees in our local area. The reality is a few votes can have a significant impact on the outcome of trustee elections.

The WTA is encouraging all of the membership to get involved in the process:

 Step 1:
Become informed. Find out who the school trustee candidates are in your area.

Step 2:
Collect as much print, internet, media information about the individuals as possible. Keep this material in a file so that in the years to come you can use the information to hold trustees accountable for positions they are taking.

Step 3:
Contact the candidates. This may seem a difficult and possibly time consuming undertaking, but is important. A five minute conversation may help solidify your support or convince you the candidate is not right for the job.

Here are four questions you might want to ask your local candidate:

Which three areas of education require immediate action in this school division? Why?

  • What educationally based qualifications, skills and knowledge do you bring to the position that would make you an effective trustee?
  • Do you favour a limit on class size in the school division?
  • Should all special needs students be integrated into a regular classroom?

If you are interested in obtaining more questions like these for the candidates or want general information about the trustee elections, I would encourage you to go the MTS home page at mbteach.org and click into the “School Board Election Handbook” found in the upper right corner.

Step 4:
Select candidates worthy of your support.   Encourage your friends and neighbours in your ward to get out and vote for these candidates. You can have an impact in the outcome of the election.

Remember to vote for school trustees
on October 27, 2010.

GET INVOLVED!

Negotiations Update #1

By: Joan Fransen, WTA Vice-President

Recently you received your first semi-monthly pay deposit.  This was the final clause from last year’s negotiations settlement to take effect.  In the February WTA News the method of deductions was posted.  One change has occurred since then.  The deduction for Extended Health (Manulife) will be made during each pay period instead of monthly.

As was the case last September, our collective agreement has expired.  The WTA Table Team will begin negotiations with the WSD very soon.  Dates have been established from now until the Winter holiday (December).  In the mean time, the Table Team is reviewing the package approved by Council in preparation for negotiations.

Provincially, collective agreements for all teachers’ associations in Manitoba—with the exception of Louis Riel—have expired.   The settlement in Louis Riel for this year is for a 1.5% increase at the end of September and a further 1.5% increase in March, 2011.  Negotiations committees, and especially MTS Staff Officers, are very busy.  For this reason, it is impossible to predict the timing of our discussions.

Several of our committee members, along with those from other teachers’ associations, gathered in August to attend the annual MTS Collective Bargaining Summer School.  The 2.5 day session included a keynote speech by John Collins, break-out sessions, and a bargaining simulation.  The bargaining simulation was a highlight for many participants.  Each member was assigned to a mock teachers’ association negotiations committee whose task was to develop a negotiations package for presentation.  Committees held meetings to update packages and produce counter-proposals.  Eventually, mock trustee groups sat across the table from the committees to bargain.  The process allowed participants the opportunity to practise prior to “the real thing” this fall.

We look forward to the opportunity to meet with our WSD counterparts to discussion issues and, ultimately, to produce a collective agreement in your best interests.

Workplace Safety & Health Update

By: Joan Fransen, WTA Vice-President

It is a bit ironic that I am writing an article about Workplace Safety and Health (WS&H) as I am new to this focus but in my quest to bring myself up to speed I realized there were several items of which we should all be aware.

At this time of year your school/work location should have established a WS&H committee—there are exceptions.  Winnipeg School Division is under a variance which means that it has been granted some exemptions.  Smaller work sites are not required to have site-based committee;  instead, they must have named a WS&H representative.  These sites are defined as those “elementary schools and schools with a consistent population of less than five hundred.”  (Policy GBE, revised September 8, 2008)

All schools operating an industrial/vocational arts program, and schools with a consistent student population of five hundred students or more, shall have in place a Workplace Safety and Health Committee comprised of representatives of the administration and representatives of employee groups. (Policy GBE)

According to Policy (and Legislation), each of these sites must have a WTA representative on their local committee; that is, WTA members at these locations should have elected/appointed a representative.  All WS & H representatives are entitled to two days of training.  The Division will provide more information as the year progresses.

In addition, the WTA has a WS&H Committee that provides representatives to the WSD Central Workplace Safety and Health Committee.  The WTA committee members are Rui Carvalho (Gordon Bell), Sashira Gafic (Shaughnessy Park), Chris Goring (RB Russell), Chris Pammenter (WAEC), and Joan Fransen (WTA Office).  We are currently seeking a lab assistant to join our committee.  Please call me at 831-7104 if you are a lab assistant willing to participate in monthly meetings.

The WSD WS&H Policy can be found on the WSD website.  To navigate to the policy, log on through WSD @ Work—Staff Services.  Go through the Departments & Services section to Human Resources and follow toWorkplace Safety and Health.  In addition to the policy, forms, theWorkplace Health & Safety Procedures Manual, and checklists can all be found there.

Throughout the year more information will be provided here to help our members become aware of Workplace Safety and Health—both policy and process.

Dental Plan Benefits Coverage

Plan Covers:

  • spouses of eligible contracted teachers/lab assistants
  • dependent child under 18 years of age
  • dependent child under 25 years of age if fulltime student
  • dependent child who was incapacitated for a continuous period beginning before age 18 or while a fulltime student and before age 25

Annual Deductible:
$15.00 person/$30.00 family. If both spouses are WTA members the maximum deductible is $30.00 in a calendar year. (Note: there is a deductible holiday for the 2009 calendar year.)

Annual Benefit Maximum:
Routine and major combined = $2,500.00 per person
Orthodontic = $1250.00 per person
Total = $3750.00 per person

Any Routine or Major Treatment expected to cost over $300.00 and all Orthodontic treatment must first be submitted to Great-West Life.

Great-West Life Office Mailing Address:
Winnipeg Benefit Payments
P.O. Box 3050
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 4E5
Phone: 942-3589
Plan No. 51001
The 2010 Dental Fee Guide is in effect.

Routine – 100% Coverage Major – 60% Coverage Orthodontic – 50% Coverage
cleaning, bitewing x-ray, fluoride (limit twice in a calendar year) crowns, bridges, implants, dentures, etc. correction of malocclusions of teeth
oral examinations replacement of prosthodontics appliances
full mouth x-rays (once every 24 months) procedures involving gold if no reasonable substitute at lower cost could be rendered observation adjustments
extractions repairs
fillings bands
dental surgery (excluding orthodontic or extensive procedures) consultations
diagnostic x-ray and lab work
general anesthesia
endodontic treatment (root canal)
periodontal treatment (gum disease)
treatment for relief of dental pain
injected medication
space maintainers (not used for orthodontic
purposes)
consultations – relines, rebases and repairs to existing dentures
pit and fissure sealants (up to age 19)

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

Teacher Welfare Article

By: David Harack

Another school year is upon us, and hopefully everyone had a great, restful and recharging summer, ready to get down work again!  I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and speak about the Teacher Welfare Committee which I chair.  My name is David Harack and as previously stated I chair the Teacher Welfare Committee.  This will be my second year serving on the WTA Executive and am looking forward to a great year!

The Teacher Welfare Committee’s duty is to review wellness grant applications. The process for applying for funding is as follows; download and print the wellness grant application from the WTA website or call the WTA office – 831-7104 for a copy. Then fax the sheets to Attention WTA TWC Chair to the WTA office at 837-9698.  The Committee meets once a month to discuss, review then vote on each application, after this meeting the School PD Chair or contact person will be notified via email on the status. Funding is not necessarily guaranteed as it is a decision by the committee, but people may appeal the decision, which usually involves faxing a letter with further information, whereby the committee will review it again.

Last year many inventive and original applications were approved such as: Staff Yoga classes, Wellness Days, bike rollers, lectures on Stress and Cortisol effects, Zumba classes and a variety of others!  The whole point of the wellness grant is to find something that pertains to Teacher Wellness or Welfare.  I just want to stress that this grant is not to be used for school professional development but strictly Teacher Welfare.

One final note, our profession can be very stressful please take advantage of this grant to do something that will increase staff wellness, health and welfare. I look forward to serving the membership and hope everyone has a happy healthy year!

General Information/Group Benefits Information

WTA Fees/MTS Fees

Please be advised that for the 2010/2011 school year the WTA fees will be $100.00 PER YEAR and the MTS fees will be $879.00 PER YEAR.

FYI – your WTA fees for the year ($100.00) will be deducted off your September pay cheque.  Fees deducted from your pay cheques for the rest of the year, October-June are MTS fees.

WSD Parking Fees for 2010/2011

$200.00+ GST = with electrical outlet

$175.00 + GST = without electrical outlet

REMEMBER…

When you up-grade your classification you must inform Manitoba Education & Certification in Russell (1-800-667-2378) as soon as you have your documentation from the University.  Manitoba Ed. & Cert. will process the documentation and forward information to the Division so that you may be paid at your up-graded classification.

Please make sure when you receive any information from Manitoba Ed. & Cert. that they have your correct classification.  The onus is upon youto make sure your classification (and therefore your pay scale) is correct.

2010/2011 WTA Executive and Council Dates

Executive

September 15th October 6th
November 3rd December 1st
January 12th February 2nd
March 2nd April 6th
May 11th June 1st and 15th

All of the above meetings begin at 4:30 PM and are held in The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Boardroom (with the exception of the second meeting in June which is held outside the building at a location TBD.)

Council:

September 20th October 19th
November 17th December 13th
January 20th February 15th
March 16th April 18th
May 17th June 6th
Retirement Reception—June 8th, 2011—Shaarey Zedek

All of the above meetings begin at 5:45 PM and are held in The Manitoba Teachers’ Society Arnett Auditorium (unless otherwise noted.)  Snack will be provided at 5:00 PM outside the Auditorium

Counselling Services

Counselling services are available to ALL WTA members.  Keystone Counselling Associates are the Association’s counsellors.  They can be reached at 338-3339.

Contracted teachers within the WTA may also access The Manitoba Teachers’ Society’s Educators’ Assistance Program (EAP) at 888-7961 or 837-5801.

Electoral Units not represented at the June 2010 WTA Council meeting: No quorum was reached for the June 2010 meeting.

How about serving on a WTA Committee?

The WTA Committee Chairs are always looking for members to serve on various committees.  Your Council Rep. has all the committee reports for 2009/2010.  In your review of last year’s committee reports you may find something of interest to which you could devote some time and energy.  New ideas and creative thinking are required in all aspects of the work of the Association.  This is a rewarding way to “give back” to your profession.  If you would like to serve on a committee please call the Chair at their school.

Committee:

AGM Chair:  Kristin Insull, Kelvin High School
Public Relations Chair:  Dave Najduch, WTA Office
Finance Chair:  Jennie Matteis, Grant Park High School
Reception Chair:  Kyle LeBlanc, Robertson School
Teacher Welfare Chair:  David Harack, Tec Voc
Group Benefits Chair:  Shahram Hakimelahi, Montrose School
Distinguished Service Award Chair:  Dave Najduch, WTA Office
Executive Nominating & Elections Chair:  Pat Lewicki, Shaughnessy Park
Monitoring Chair:  Nathan Martindale, Shaughnessy Park School
Workplace Safety & Health Chair:  Joan Fransen, WTA Office
Substitutes Chair:  Melinda Guenther-Balodis, Lord Selkirk School
Credentials Chair:  Rui Carvalho, Gordon Bell High School

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society Code of Professional Practice

The Code of Professional Practice establishes the required standards of conduct for all members of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society.  A teacher’s professional behaviour must reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the Code.  (Violations of the Code shall be addressed through application of the Bylaws. Revised 2007)

  1. A teacher’s first professional responsibility is to her or his students.
  2. A teacher acts with integrity and diligence in carrying out professional responsibilities.
  3. A teacher avoids involvement in a conflict of interest, recognizes that a privileged relationship with students exists and refrains from exploiting that relationship for material, ideological or other advantage.
  4. A teacher speaks and acts with respect and dignity, and deals judiciously with others, always mindful of their rights.
  5. A teacher respects the confidential nature of information concerning students and may give the information only to authorized personnel or agencies directly concerned with the student’s welfare.
  6. A teacher’s conduct toward colleagues is characterized by consideration and good faith.
  7. A teacher first directs any criticism of the professional activity of a colleague to that colleague in private.  Only after informing the colleague of the intent to do so, the complainant may direct in confidence the criticism to appropriate officials through the proper channels of communication.
  8. A teacher shall not be considered in contravention of the Code in:
    1. consulting with the Society or the president of the member’s local association;
    2. reporting reasonable grounds for suspected child abuse according to legal requirements.
  9. A teacher does not bypass immediate authority to reach higher authority without first exhausting the proper channels of communication.
  10. A teacher makes an ongoing effort to improve professionally.
  11. A teacher adheres to collective agreements negotiated by the professional organization.
  12. A teacher neither applies for nor accepts a position which is included in a Society in-dispute declaration.
  13. A teacher or group of teachers makes only authorized representations to outside bodies on   behalf of the Society or its local associations.  Without the express permission of the Society, no member(s) conferring with outside bodies may explicitly or implicitly claim that they represent the Society or its local associations.

RELIGIOUS HOLY LEAVES FOR MEMBERS OF THE WINNIPEG TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION

(excerpt from the WTA Collective Agreement)

“19.09    Religious Holy Leave

Teachers shall not absent themselves from duty for reasons of religious holy days without first securing permission from the Superintendent.  All requests for such approval shall be made through the principal on the form prescribed.

(a)  No deduction from salary shall be made when teachers are absent for observance of religious holy days, up to a maximum of three (3) days per school year.

(b)  When teachers are absent for observance of religious holy days in excess of three (3) days per school year a teacher may receive regular salary less the rate for a substitute in the teacher’s salary classification

(c)  The following notification period will apply:

  1. for teachers requiring religious holy leaves prior to October 15th, ten (10) working days   notice in writing shall be given to the Division, for teachers requiring religious holy days October 15th or later, notice in writing of leave required for that school year shall be given by September 30th.
  2. for those teachers commencing employment with the Division at a time other than the start of the school year and who require religious holy leave, notice in writing, shall be given to the Division within ten (10) working days of active employment.

(d)  Where the appropriate notice has not been given to the Division, the Division shall provide religious holy days and that leave, at the Division’s discretion, may be with pay or at regular salary less than the rate for a substitute in the teacher’s salary classification, or with one two-hundredths (1/200) salary deduction per day.  The Division shall act reasonably and fairly having regard to all circumstances.

(e)  Religious Holy Leave shall be extended to include individuals in the Adult EAL Program.

It is agreed for the purposes of this Article, Religious Holy Days shall be defined as “major religious holy days observed by the teacher and designated as a day of obligation by the teacher’s religion.”

19.10     In the event that an employee is requesting a short term leave of absence which is not otherwise set forth in this Agreement, the Division may grant such leave with or without pay in accordance with its policy, a copy of which is attached hereto as Appendix “A” to this Agreement.  This clause is only for the information of the Association membership and an employee should see the Division policy manual for details.”

The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association 2010/2011 Telephone List

Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Office: 831-7104/FAX:  837-9698

Glenda Shepherd, WTA Administrative Assistant (e-mail: gshepherd@wta.mb.ca)

Dave Najduch, WTA President (e-mail: pres@wta.mb.ca)

Joan Fransen, WTA Vice-President (e-mail: vpres@wta.mb.ca)

WTA Counselling Service: 338-3339

Manitoba Teachers’ Society: 888-7961/FAX:  831-0877

Henry Shyka, WTA Business Agent, MTS Staff Officer

Nancy Kerr, MTS Staff Officer

Legal Assistance Programme (Myers Weinberg   LLP): 942-0501

Winnipeg School Division Administration Building: 775-0231

Substitute Request Line: 772-0691

Substitute Help Line: 789-0475*
* between the hours of 6:45 AM and 2:45 PM

ManuLife (Extended Health Benefit Carrier)
Information Service Centre: 1-800-268-6195
www.manulife.ca

Teachers’ Retirement Allowance Fund (TRAF): 949-0048

Teacher Certification Branch (Russell, MB): 1-800-667-2378

Manulife Information…

Confirmation of over-age dependents:

Members of the Manulife Extended Health Plan need to annually confirm over-age student dependents.  Every year Manulife updates their records to ensure over-age student dependents continue to receive uninterrupted health coverage for the duration of their formal education, or until they reach the maximum age of 25.  Plan members who need to extend benefits for over-age student dependents must complete a Request for Over-Age Dependent Coverage form (GL4408E/F), and return it to Manulife by July 31.

An over-age student dependent is a plan member’s unmarried child (up to the age of 25) who is a full-time student enrolled in accredited post-secondary education.

If a plan member’s over-age student dependent graduates, leaves school or no longer qualifies as an eligible dependent plan members need to complete the Termination of Over-Age Dependent Coverage (also GL4408E/F).

Cuba out-of-country coverage for plan members:

Effective May 1st all visitors travelling to Cuba are required to provide proof of out-of-country travel health insurance upon landing.  If visitors do not hold insurance from an approved carrier/assistance provider (evidence of provincial health insurance coverage may be accepted) at the point of entry into Cuba, they may be required to purchase insurance for the duration of their stay.

The views expressed in all articles in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Association.

MTS Update – A President Censured

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

I had planned nothing for this month’s newsletter regarding the work of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, but the minutes from the June 18th, 2010 Emergency Meeting and the August 23rd, 2010 regular Provincial Executive meeting have caused me once again to put keyboard to screen.

It would appear to me that there is a power struggle going on between the President and the Provincial Executive.  Rather than paraphrasing or summarizing the minutes, I have included the pertinent sections for you to read over. When terms like “demands”,  “denied”, “Legal Counsel”, “directed”, “censured” and “defying” are used in Provincial Executive minutes, something is up.

Taken from the Minutes of the June 18th, 2010  – Emergency Meeting of MTS Provincial Executive (pg.1-2)

McKinstry – Gould: That the motions passed in camera be recorded in the minutes. Carried

The following motions were passed in camera:

Gould/Ehinger: That the demands of Pat Isaak, President of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, for monies claimed to be owing for vacation days and service gratuity be denied and FURTHER that the letter of response be sent to the President as drafted.     Carried Unanimously

Filewich/Wiebe: Effective immediately, the General Secretary shall be the onlyauthorized representative to Society Legal Counsel for matters under consideration by the Provincial Executive, unless otherwise directed by the Provincial Executive. Carried

Gould/Johnson: That the measures adopted through motion by Provincial Executive at the June 18th emergency meeting be relayed to the President and Vice-President in a joint meeting, by the Provincial Executive spokesperson, Pam Stinsonand the General Secretary.    Carried

Taken from the Minutes of the August 23rd, 2010 – Fourth Meeting of the MTS Provincial Executive (pg.5)

Filewich/Johnston: That the text of the letter as drafted August 23, 2010 addressed to Pat Isaak, Society President, be approved subject to legal counsel advice and that this letter be provided to Pat Isaak.     Carried

Ehinger/McKinstry: That the President , Pat Isaak be censured for defying the directive of Provincial Executive ( Motion passed June 18, 2010) by seeking Society paid legal advice without the permission of the Provincial Executive on an issue currently being dealt with by the Provincial Executive.

A roll call vote was requested and should the vote be unanimous it was to be so recorded. Carried Unanimously

Bambridge /Wiebe: That the President shall invite the Vice President to accompany her when attending meetings or junctions to which the Society has been formally invited.     Carried

I have been involved in teacher politics for a very, very, did I say very, long time. I have no recollection of an MTS President ever being censured unanimously by a Provincial Executive.   I also have no recollection of the President ever being directed to take the Vice-President along on Society business. The motions above provide a glimpse into some of the issues being addressed by the Society at the level of the Provincial Executive. I wonder what will be in the minutes of the September meeting?