Catholic teachers agree merit should be part of hiring

At least one union representing teachers is willing to give some ground on the government’s desire to hire based on merit instead of seniority.

At a public hearing of the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Tuesday it was revealed that the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association has shown a willingness to move on what is known as Regulation 274.

That’s the regulation stating that seniority is an overriding factor in hiring of teachers at all levels.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said several times that he wants, “a deal that ensures merit is the guiding principle of hiring, not union seniority.” So far, unions have publicly refused to budge on this front but it turns out that OECTA is willing to talk.

In the labour board hearing this week, it was revealed that OECTA had agreed to concessions on Regulation 274 during talks in the summer in an attempt to reach a deal on other issues.

Even though those talks collapsed, sources tell the Toronto Sun that the issue remains open to negotiation with the union agreeing to give the government more leeway in making merit an important part of hiring.

“It’s about 35% seniority, 65% merit,” said one source familiar with where the talks are at but not able to speak publicly about the deliberations.

If agreed to in contract talks, the changes would still ensure that seniority is a factor in hiring decisions but also give principals doing the hiring greater leeway in who is considered for any particular job.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has asked for the issue to be sent to arbitration while the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation is not currently engaged in any negotiations with the government.