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.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing!!!! It is important to know.In our case the contract states that hours can vary. Just like that 😕 I truly support that we should stand our ground. Hopefully IRCC will come up with regulations as to our profession which will require service providers to comply...or not....we never know as we know🤔

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    1. Waiver: I am not a lawyer. Please do not consider the statements above or below to be legal advice. Just my opinion: Hours can vary, sure, but hours should still be paid. Just because your contract says "hours can vary" doesn't mean the employer can suddenly change the duties in such a way that one cannot possibly accomplish it all without donating two hours of unpaid time each night. Also note that employment law, as I understand it, says that just because you signed a contract does not make it binding if any part of the contract goes against employment standards / legislation. In a court of law, the law takes precedence over anything you signed. Also note that there is a TWO YEAR statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit to claim back any monies owed. --KM

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    2. Since we are all afraid...how is this going to get off the ground?

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    3. I would recommend talking to Lior in confidence to see what strategy he recommends. A strategy that would protect people's identity. And go from there. The reason I believe he should be the one is because he is well-known because of his program on global toronto and radio programs educating people. That in itself would make IRCC and all those involved take notice for fear of this exploding in the media..it could become rather damaging, if not scandalous.

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    4. Anonymous7/27/2019 3:03 PM

      Have you spoken to Lior?

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    5. Yes, I have. I am pursuing my rights through the legal system. The problem is that I am not in ontario. Otherwise, I would definitely be going to him. I think he is a good choice as he is well known there because of the tv program. He is also representing uber and skip the dishes employees, if I am not mistaken. IRCC needs a jolt as they have put employers (service providers) in the position of violating employment standards perhaps without realizing as they keep cutting classes. People have been let go with minimal notice after years of service (the last five working multiple hours for free). I will never forget a colleague who was let go last semester. He was 'laid off' because his level was being cut by the funders. They gave him two months pay (severance) and out the door he went. He is 63 years old and had worked for them for seventeen years teaching multiple levels. He 2as so ashamed that he lied to colleagues saying he was leaving to travel. He is entitled to treat that 'lay off" as a termination and receive his full severance of 24 months pay. Unfortunately, he is such a nice person that he feels bad to pursue those rights. That is inhumane.

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    6. If you have signed that contract repeatedly for more than three or four years without 90 days between them, you are not a contractor. You are an employee and that contract is meaningless. Look it up and you will see. Difference between contract and contract of employment.

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    7. I used this duration between two dates calculator to discover that this year there are 88 days in my summer break. Over the years my employer has started putting IRCCs budget-cut days all together in summer instead of spreading them through the year in order to allow teachers to collect EI for them all. But it's still fewer than 90. Good to know. https://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html

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    8. Dear Anonymous8/05/2019 7:49 PM: Your friend's story is heartbreaking. I hope he finds the courage to claim his due before the statute of limitations runs out. It's not about the money so much as the principle involved. :( KM

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    9. Exactly

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  2. If someone had told me that the government of Canada was going to treat/abuse teachers, primarily women, this way, that it was going to roll out a program with such huge incompetence, I never would have believed them. No curriculum, no assessments, no resources. Incredible. The response is naturally to just play along, do the minimum until they realize the insanity that is the CCLB.

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  3. Hi Kelly,

    I just had an idea. I'm wondering what you think of setting up an open summer "forum-like thread" on your blog . People could discuss whatever they like, including PBLA (let's face it, probably PBLA). Just a summer miscellany. I see it as a place that would be easy to find (no need to search through all the other topics and posts to see what people have to say). What do you think?
    Signed,
    Interested in what people are thinking/experiencing/discovering about PBLA

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    1. Dear Interested,
      That is easy enough. --KM

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    2. PBLA isn't working in London.

      I wonder if we could open each post with the statement "PBLA isn't working in......"

      IF we are all able to do that then atleast Michelle Rempel and others would see that PBLA isn't an isolated issue in one workplace BUT that PBLA is a countrywide fail.

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    3. Maybe repeat this request as a comment on the newer blog post so folks will see it. --KM

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