Newsletter September 2013

Welcome Back!

David

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

The WTA began the year by having four Executive members attend the MTS Bargaining School at the Elkhorn Resort Aug. 21-23. Nathan, Kristin, Rui and I were given an excellent opportunity to further develop our contract negotiations skills. On Aug 26-27 Nathan and I also attended Presidents’ Training here in the city. This session focused on the nuts and bolts of running a local teachers’ association and also provided some very good information on the growing “anti-union” movement.

The start of every year usually brings to the surface one or two member issues.

The office received calls regarding confusion over the voting process required to give up the noon hour meal period found in the collective agreement. First and foremost, a vote is not required. A vote should only take place if administration in a building is going to assign duty and meetings during the 55 minute meal period.

If a vote is to take place

  • it should take place in September
  • the secret ballot process should be used and run by the WTA Council Representative
  • the question on the ballot should be to give up the 55 minute meal period or not
  • only WTA members are able to vote
  • there needs to be a clear majority ( 50% plus 1) of WTA members in the building voting to give up the meal period
    • (Example: 20 WTA members in the building / 11 must say yes to giving up the provision otherwise it remain in place)
  • the result of the vote should be announced to the entire staff
  • a staff cannot re-vote if someone does not like the outcome of the first ballot
  • If the vote passes, the meal period is only altered for this school year. A new vote would be required to alter the provision next school year.

If the meal period provision is voted away for the 2013-2014 school year, meetings and duty can be assigned over the noon hour. If the provision has not been voted away then participation in these activities is voluntary unless the member’s lunch break can be scheduled at another time between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM each day.

The second issue that has generated email and telephone traffic is the new substitute reporting system called AESOP. There have been concerns raised about the lack of training time and the content of the training modules. Another concern is linked to the ability of teachers to get specific substitutes on their own and school priority lists. Some subs who have worked for teachers in schools for years have been shut out because of various glitches in the system. These concerns have been brought to the attention of the WSD and the hope is they can be addressed in the near future.

If you have any comments, feedback, questions or concerns about the meal period provision, AESOP or anything else, please call me at 204-831-7104 or email me at pres@wta.mb.ca.

Have a great year.

Shifting Gears

By: Nathan Martindale, Vice-President

To all the new teachers – congratulations on completing your first few weeks on the job! To all the veteran teachers – welcome back to another year with your students and colleagues! The summer weather has not ended, but our holidays have. It is time to shift gears and move into a new school year. I have always enjoyed the season of autumn; the return to routines and schedules brings a sense of order to day-to-day life.

The beginning of the 2013-2014 school year also marks the beginning of the fourth and final year of our current collective agreement. On the first teaching day of September 2013 each member received a 2% increase in their salary.

In preparation for the upcoming round of collective bargaining, several members from the WTA Negotiations Committee and Executive attended the MTS Collective Bargaining Summer School. The 2.5 day session included presentations from MTS Staff and break-out sessions for new and experienced bargainers. The main focus of the training was a well-received bargaining simulation.

During the past two years, information has been solicited from WTA members in regards to the next round of Collective Bargaining via school visits where members have the opportunity to ask questions, engage in conversations, and make suggestions. Members have also contacted the WTA Office by phone and email with suggestions and ideas for the next round.

This fall, as per WTA Council Policy C1 – Collective Agreement (as printed below), the Negotiations Committee will solicit ideas from members in a formal method.

WTA Policy C1 Collective Agreement

  1. Timeline for Negotiations Package Preparation
    1. November
      • Solicit ideas from association members, schools
      • Deadline for submission of proposals set by Negotiations Committee
      • Develop a negotiations package
    2. February
      • 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
    3. March
      • Council approves the negotiations package
  2. That the timeline be well publicized.

A Negotiations Proposal Form will be posted to the WTA Website under the “Forms” tab to meet the requirements of the above policy. Members will be encouraged to fill the form out and fax to the WTA Office. The proposals will then be reviewed by the Negotiations Committee. Please continue to contact the WTA Office by phone or email with your suggestions and proposals related to negotiations.

Pregnancy and Sick Leave: Your Rights and Responsibilities

By: Nancy Kerr, Staff Officer, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society

There was a time when women who were pregnant were denied the right to use sick leave in connection with pregnancy and childbirth, but that changed because of a couple of significant court cases that determined denying access to sick leave in connection with pregnancy was against human rights legislation. From that time on, pregnant women could access sick leave benefits due to complications arising from being pregnant, and new mothers could also access sick leave benefits to cover the time it takes to recover from being pregnant and giving birth. However, there are some things teachers need to be aware of when it comes to exercising the right to access sick leave.

The most important thing to remember is that accessing sick leave while pregnant is no different than accessing sick leave at any other time. The use of sick leave always has to be legitimate, and the employer always has the right to request a medical note from the teacher’s doctor or midwife, subject to any legislation or collective agreement provisions that may exist. Also, the assessment of the medical condition that results in the medical note being issued must be done at the time the note is issued, except in special circumstances. In other words, just as a teacher would not plan to have the ‘flu six months ahead of time and hand in a note saying so, so should a teacher not plan several months ahead to take sick leave prior to commencing maternity leave. Legislation does require a minimum notice period to commence maternity and/or parental leave, but there is no such requirement to give notice that one will be taking sick leave, nor is it prudent to do so. Giving a note to the employer advising that sick leave will be taken in two or four months time calls the legitimacy of the note and the medical condition into question.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. For example, a teacher might be told a few weeks in advance that they are scheduled to have surgery, and in this situation, can give advance notice to the employer of the need to take sick leave. A similar situation may arise with a pregnant teacher, who may have a pre-existing condition that the doctor knows will require the teacher to leave work on sick leave a few weeks or months prior to giving birth. In this situation, there is nothing wrong with giving the employer advance notice of the need to access sick leave, but these situations are not common. In most situations, a teacher will be assessed by her doctor or midwife on a regular basis throughout the pregnancy, and should a time come when the teacher can no longer work due to medical reasons, that is when the note should be handed in, and sick leave started.

There are sometimes instances where medical notes are given to the employer, and the employer wants further information from the doctor with respect to the medical condition. In many of these situations, the employer requests the teacher to sign a form giving the doctor permission to speak directly to the employer. It is important to understand that when such a form is signed, regardless of the reasons given for the request, the employer now has permission to speak to the doctor about whatever may be in the teacher’s medical chart. If the employer has questions about a medical note, those questions should be forwarded to the teacher (or her union representative) who can then go to her doctor to get the answers. It is also important to understand there is ample case law that makes it clear what kind of information employers are entitled to request, and puts clear limits in place to ensure confidentiality of medical information. In other words, the employer is not entitled to whatever information it wants about an employee’s medical condition.

Your personal medical information should always be protected to the greatest extent possible, and you do have the right to maintain confidentiality of your medical records at all times. Should your employer issue a request to you to give permission to contact your doctor directly, you should consult with the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association, or Henry Shyka or Nancy Kerr at The Manitoba Teachers’ Society prior to agreeing to any such arrangement.

Manulife Information Reminder…

The following information is provided from the Manulife Financial Group Benefits Admin Update Q3 2011

Orthopaedic shoes: New requirement for claims after January 1s, 2012

Manulife has been monitoring market trends and fine-tuning their practices to ensure they pay claims consistent with the intent of the benefit. They just completed a review of orthopedic shoes and found that many vendors are promoting off-the-shelf walking or sports shoes as orthopedic. In response to this market trend, they are making some changes to manage utilization and prevent abuse or fraud.

What’s changing?

The following is a summary of the information required for all claims for off-the-shelf medically necessary orthopedic shoes. The only new requirement is #2, the manufacturer’s name and the brand name and model number of the shoes or boots. This information should be provided with a completed and signed Extended Health Care Claim form.

From A Physician:

  1. The diagnosis of a medical condition and a prescription for shoes or boots as treatment for that medical condition.

From The Supplier Of The Footwear

  1. The name of the manufacturer, and the model name and/or model number of the shoes or boots.
  2. Details if the shoes or boots:
    1. Are attached to or part of a brace or
    2. Have been altered/adjusted by the supplier for the specific medical needs of the wearer, including a description of the alterations.
  3. Details of all costs, with costs for the footewar shown separately from costs for any alterations to them.
  4. The date the shoes or boots were picked up from the supplier.
  5. The original receipt showing the date and method of payment.

Starting in November 2013 Manulife’s explanation of benefits statements will carry a message to flag the change to plan members making orthopedic shoe claims their Customer Service Centre team will also be explaining the claims changes to members calling in.

Manulife’s usual practice is to return incomplete claims to members so that they can provide the missing details and resubmit their claim. Plan members are responsible for any costs associated with providing this information as part of their claim.

Manulife wants to help plan members understand what footwear is eligible.

Manulife wants plan members to understand their benefits and help if they call or write to them before they buy orthopedic shoes.

After plan members have a physician’s diagnosis, members need a chiropodist, pedorthist or podiatrist to recommend shoes. When they have details of the footwear, any medications and proposed costs (described in items 2 to 4 in the previous list), they can call or sent Manulife a predetermination request so that they can confirm if those shoes or boots will be eligible under the plan.

Information about Manulife’s claims requirements is available on their Secure Plan Member Site athttp://groupbenefits.manulife.com/canada/GB_V2.nsf/public/pm_welcome

Maternity, Parental, Adoptive Leave Seminar

The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Group Benefits Committee

Information will be shared on EI benefits, sick leave, and SUB Plan Benefits.

Dates

  • December 12th, 2013
  • February 13th, 2013

Location

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society
Arnett Auditorium
191 Harcourt Street

Time

4:30PM – A light snack will be provided

Facilitator

Nancy Kerr – MTS Staff Officer

Registration

Please fill out the registration form and FAX back to the WTA office – 204-837-9698. Deadline for registrations is one week prior to date of seminar. Thank you.

2014 WTA Pre-Retirement Seminars

Hosted By: WTA Group Benefits Committee

If you are 48 years of age or older and a WTA member, you can register for one of the two WTA Pre-retirement Seminars offered for the 2013/2014 school year.

The dates for the seminars are:

  • January 21st, 2014 – 4:30 PM, McMaster House Arnett Auditorium
  • March 24th, 2014 – 4:30 PM, McMaster House Arnett Auditorium

Please e-mail Glenda Shepherd at gshepherd@wta.mb.ca for your TRAF authorization number and process for registration.

WTA Council Representative Job Description

The Council of the WTA is the decision-making body of the organization.

Council sets direction by…

  1. Passing motions that direct the Executive to take action on issues
  2. Passing motions to create special committees of Council to address a concern or issue
  3. Passing motions which create WTA policy
  4. Approving a negotiations package which is presented to the Board of trustees on behalf of the membership
  5. Approving resolutions taken to the Annual General Meeting of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society
  6. Approving the budget and setting the fee for the Association at the WTA Annual General Meeting in May.

A Council Representative should…

  1. Report to staff about what has transpired at Council meetings. This information can be taken from:
    • The written President’s Report provided at each meeting
    • The minutes of the Council meeting mailed to each Council Representative
    • The notes taken at Council meetings
  2. Report to the membership in your location at staff meetings as a Timed Item and/or a WTA membership meeting at a time other than a staff meeting
  3. Bring staff concerns/issues of importance from your location to a Council meeting. These can be shared by phone with the President at any time or brought up as questions during the meeting. Please remember that Question Period is about general information items, if it about specific individuals or incidents please contact the WTA office at 204-831-7104.
  4. Act as the Deputy Returning/Ratification Officer for WTA Executive Elections or contract ratification votes that will take place at your location. Do not panic!!! A step-by-step package of material will be provided to each location explaining the process and timelines.
  5. Be a contact person in your location for other WTA members. This means others on staff can come to you for information. If questions arise direct the member to contact the WTA office at 204-831-7104
  6. Take back to your location materials provided at Council and share them with the membership.
  7. Serve on a WTA committee at some point. This organization depends upon the involvement of the membership.

A Council Representative has to decide how to vote on major issues being presented at Council. Your options in this area include…

  1. Having a vote in your location on major items and then vote that way at the Council meeting.
  2. Listening to the discussion at Council meetings and vote based upon the feedback from your staff and the information provided during the debates at Council.

In either case, it helps if you let your staff know at the beginning of the year what process you intend to follow when voting on issues.

Please remember to READ your Council kit prior to each Council meeting. The kits are sent out by the WTA office before each meeting of Council. The Head Rep. (first-named Rep.) in each school should receive this kit and distribute copies to other reps in their electoral unit. The kit will …

  1. Tell you the date and time of each meeting. If there has been a change on the Agenda it will be highlighted.
  2. Indicate what topics or motions will be discussed. Whenever possible written information related to topics will be provided in the kit ahead of time.
  3. Provide you with a copy of the Agenda for the upcoming meeting and the minutes from the previous meeting.

If you are not receiving Council kits please contact the WTA office at 204-831-7104.

As a Council Representative it is NOT your job to…

  1. become involved in disputes between:
    1. members
    2. members and students/parents
  2. Interpret the Collective Agreement or School Board Policy for other members

In each of the above situations it is best to have the member involved contact the WTA office for information about how to proceed in the particular situation. The WTA office can then best outline a course of action that is appropriate to the circumstance.

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 2012/2013. They may also be viewed online at wta.mb.ca In your review of this 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.

Committee:
AGM Kristin Insull, Kelvin High School
Finance Jennie Matteis, Grant Park High School
Reception Terry Willerton, Tec Voc High School
Teacher Welfare Rui Carvalho, Gordon Bell High School
Group Benefits David Harack, Tec Voc
Distinguished Service Award Jennie Matteis, Grant Park High School
Executive Nominating & Elections TBD
Monitoring (School Board Meetings) Kristin Insull, Kelvin High School
Workplace Safety & Health Nathan Martindale, WTA Office
Substitutes Orysya Petryshyn, Sisler High School

If you would like to serve on a committee please download the formfill it in and FAX it to the WTA Office – 204-837-9698.

2013/2014 Council Meetings

The following are the dates for the 2013/2014 Council Meetings:

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: Council Dinner – 4:45 PM
October 15th, 2013
November 18th, 2013
December 9th, 2013
January 16th, 2014 Note: Mini-PD – 5:00 PM
February 19th, 2014 Note: Mini-PD – 4:30 PM
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 – Shaarey Zedek

 

General Information

WTA Fees/MTS Fees

Please be advised that for the 2013/2014 school year the WTA fee will be$105.00 PER YEAR and the MTS fee will be $882.00 PER YEAR.

FYI – your WTA fee for the year ($105.00) will be deducted off your September pay cheques. Fees deducted from your pay cheques for the rest of the year, October-June are MTS fees.

WSD Parking Fees

$210.00 + $10.50 GST = $220.50 with electrical outlet
$185.00 + $9.25 GST = $194.25 without electrical outlet

Reminder Re WSD Courier

The WTA receives courier service from the WSD once a week on Mondays. The information sent is from the Administration Building only.Individuals/schools should NOT send info. to the Association through the Courier unless the Association advises otherwise i.e. during elections, negotiations.

Remember: individuals should NOT send personal materials through the Division Courier.

Certification

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 you to make sure your classification (and therefore your pay scale) is correct.

Counselling Services

Counselling services are available to ALL WTA members. Keystone Counselling Associates are the Association’s counsellors. They can be reached at 204-338-3339.

Contracted teachers within the WTA may also access The Manitoba Teachers’ Society’s Educators’ Assistance Program (EAP) at 204-888-7961 or 204-837-5801.

Religious Holy Leaves for Members of The WTA
(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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The following notification period will apply:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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 views expressed in articles in the Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Association.
Deadline for submissions for the October WTA Newsletter is: October 7th 2013.