Another one down and one more employee contract to go for the Halton District School Board. The board and its Halton District Educational Assistants Association (HDEAA) announced they have ratified a pair of two-year deals. The agreements run consecutively and are retroactive to September 2004 and run to August 2008. It covers more than 500 educational assistants (EAs) working in the board's schools. EA duties include working with special needs students, assisting with program development, planning and implementation, and helping prepare instructional materials. "We are pleased to have come to a mutually beneficial agreement which will ultimately serve the needs of our students, our system and our
schools," said Dawn Beckett-Morton, executive director of Human Resources for the Halton board. The president of the HDEAA is also happy with the pact. "We believe the ratification vote of our members, showing 95 per cent approval for the contract, demonstrates the extremely positive reaction to this agreement by Halton Educational Assistants," Lynne Gurzi said in a news release. Beckett-Morton said the salary and benefit improvements for the EAs are in line with other employee contracts settled in 2005-06. She said the first two-year deal will see EAs get a two per cent raise back to September 2004, 2.4 per cent back to September 2005, two per cent in September 2006, one per cent Feb. 1, 2007, 1.8 per cent on Sept. 1, 2007 and 1.4 per cent Feb. 1, 2008. The Halton public board now has just one employee group without a
contract. In late June the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), District 20, Halton Professional Student Services Personnel (PSSP) bargaining unit asked the Ministry of Labour for a No Board Report. That step will put the unit in a position to take legal strike action by Aug. 26. The action was taken after negotiations with board personnel on June 16, with the assistance of a provincial conciliator, failed to break a labour impasse. PSSP represents more than 40 staff, including psycho-educational consultants, social workers, speech and language pathologists, and child and youth counsellors who work with at-risk and special needs students in Halton's public elementary and secondary schools. The board and union have a meeting scheduled for Aug. 22.