Ontario teachers miffed at deadline

TORONTO - As contract negotiations wind their way through mediation and fact finding in numerous Michigan school districts this year, teachers in Ontario, Canada, face a different type of bargaining. Teachers throughout the province have until Nov. 30 to accept an offer of 3 percent pay raises in each of the next four years, according to newspaper accounts. If they decline, the offer drops to 2 percent for two years.

According to the Toronto Star, teacher salaries are decided through discussions at the provincial level in Ontario, with non-monetary issues decided at the local bargaining unit level. The system has been in place for three years, the Star said.

Ontario's public school elementary teachers have called the deadline unreasonable, while teachers in French and Catholic schools in Ontario already have agreed to the deal, according to The Star. Elementary teachers want to address a funding gap of $711 per student that they say exists between elementary and high school funding, The Star reported.

However, the provincial deficit already stands at $500 million, according to The Ottawa Citizen, and closing the alleged gap would cost $900 million.

The Toronto Star, "Teachers unions irked by contract deadline," Oct. 29, 2008

The Ottawa Citizen, "Teachers should take the deal," Nov. 25, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Shedding light on teacher contracts," May 5, 2008