Although voting on the agreements in principle negotiated with the provincial government last December by the various unions of the CSQ, CSN, APTS, and FTQ will continue until February 21, results are starting to come in.
A recent report by La Presse suggests that since voting began on January 15, the unions under the umbrella of the Front commun, which represents around 420,000 public sector workers, have been veering towards an overall acceptance of the proposed contracts.
Valley workers in the education sector have held true to this trend.
More than 230 members of the Chateauguay Valley Teachers Association (CVTA) participated in a special assembly on January 24. Members voted 56 per cent in favour of the sectoral agreement negotiated by the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT), which represents the CVTA. Members also voted 72 per cent in favour of the intersectoral agreement in principle, which was negotiated by the common front at the central table.
“I was very happy with the turnout,” says CVTA president Nick Ross, who notes there were more teachers in attendance at this meeting than the one held last year to ratify the strike mandate. Ross admits it is not easy to please everyone when it comes to collective negotiations. He insists, however, that “Negotiators were able to make many gains within the contract while conceding very little.”
To date, the CVTA results are very consistent with those reported by other QPAT unions. Ross confirms that with only one local union left to vote, “The QPAT as a whole has accepted both deals.”
Support staff employed by the New Frontiers School Board who are members of the Syndicat des employées et employés professionnels et de bureau (SEPB 576) local union voted 66 per cent in favour of the agreement in principle, during a special assembly held in Howick on January 31.
SEPB 576 local president Bonnie Gilmour, who served as a negotiator with the FTQ at the sectoral table, says the fact the results are low should send a message to the government.
“Members remain frustrated, and are looking for better working conditions to support our students and workloads continue to increase,” she explains. “Many felt there was no choice but to accept, and others felt that we should continue to fight during this historic time in Quebec.”
Gilmour admits to being frustrated by the negotiations. “Many of our important demands were not even discussed at the table. I feel we negotiated the best possible agreement in principle possible with a government who is not willing to invest in our public services,” she says, noting they managed to refuse some government demands that would have impacted members financially, or taken away rights that have been held for many years.
The New Frontiers Association of Professionals, which is a unit of the Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels de l’Ouest de Québec anglophone, will hold a collective vote on February 6 to determine whether the proposed contracts will be accepted.
The Salaberry section of the Syndicat de Champlain, which is affiliated with the FSE and represents area teachers employed by the Centre de services scolaire de la Vallée-des-Tisserands (CSSVT), voted 72.5 per cent in favour of the sectorial agreement and 83 per cent in favour of the Front commun-negotiated intersectoral agreement on January 22.
The Syndicat de Champlain reported a participation rate of 57 per cent for this vote, which set a record for the number of members participating in a general assembly.
Support staff represented by the Syndicat du Champlain who are members of the Vallée-du-Suroît soutien section voted 88 per cent in favour of the agreements, with a participation rate of 45 per cent.