Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Important Contribution to the Struggle

I know I'm supposed to be taking a break from blogging here, but an important comment came in last night on the post The New Disconnect that I think warrants special attention. To read the entire thread of which this comment is a part, go to that blog post's comments section.

Here is the comment without the rest of the conversational thread, with hyperlinks and a bit of reformatting by me:

Anonymous7/15/2019 6:54 PMOvertime and 18-24 months pay (as after many years of service, without any notice, they changed the terms of our contract and I was told to leave if I didn't sign). Well, I was directed to see a lawyer and come back in the afternoon to sign so I could teach. Two lawyers saw my contract and said this is constructive dismissal (a kind of termination). 

Employers think that when you are given a series of contracts (yearly in our case), we are contractors. That's not the case. If there are less than ninety days between contracts, you are an employee in the eyes of the law. Employers cannot change the terms of employment overnight with no notice or severance. And severance is not based on provincial employment standards. Those are our minimum entitlements. According to common law, employees are entitled to much more based on years of service, age, position and salary. Therefore, you have the rights and entitlements of an employee. 

I cant explain everything, as I am not a lawyer, but we have rights. Employers can't just let people go or cut hours without the appropriate severance and/or notice. And they can't demand all this extra work outside of our teaching hours without pay. 

Watch the program I mentioned, it explains everything. In fact, this past Sunday they referred to this scenario....teachers signing yearly contracts. However, if you are a member of a union, your union must pursue your rights and entitlements. I think teachers in LINC programs in BC and Ontario should contact the lawyer on the program. The lawyers name is Lior Samfir. The program is 'employment hour in 30' on global Toronto or on internet. I learned a lot as I found myself going to work one morning, with lessons prepped, first day of semester instead driving around the city looking for a lawyer so I could return in the afternoon because as you know, we are not paid if we don't teach. 

My colleagues had signed because they were afraid or too intimidated to refuse. So...no EI, no income for me all of a sudden. By the way, that is a reprisal as you have every right to refuse to sign something if you don't understand it or agree to it if it is different from your original agreement. Back to the lawyer on the show, he is representing Uber drivers in a class case as they have been misclassified as contractors as well. 

Finally, check out the severance pay calculator. Once people inform their employers what their entitlements are, they might just have to figure something out with the funder. Quite often service providers are not aware of the difference between an employment contract and a contract (that you have with a plumber or IT consultant). I am not saying people should cause problems, but service providers need to know how things work legally. I have seen many colleagues lose hours (that would amount to a decrease of 30 to 50 percent of their salary) or 'laid off' with no severance. They are just given their record of employment for EI with just a couple weeks notice. And they think that's okay because our employers have had cuts in funding or classes cut. It doesn't work that way. Anyway, check it out and spread the word to others, if not to know your own rights, to teach your students about their rights.

Note from Kelly: I have added this lawyer's contact info to the PBLA Activism page of my website:
https://www.kellymorrissey.com/pbla-activism.html. Also to note is that about a week ago I emailed Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI, about why I think PBLA is a matter that should be taken up by OCASI since it negatively impacts our most vulnerable clients. She has promised to take my email both to the funder and to her planning meeting and keep me posted.