Opening Statement



Monday, 18 June 2012

What Was Said: A Secret OECTA PDT Deal?!?


ETFO and some in OSSTF  were saying they believed a deal was to be signed last Friday by 4pm. We are nowhere close to that. OECTA President Kevin O’Dwyer has indicated to OECTA presidents that the issues identified are not accurate and clearly no deal has been signed.
The information sent out by ETFO  reflects somewhat positions stated by the government from the outset. ETFO is not at the table and so comments about Government talks by them are speculation. Efforts like these undermine solidarity and confidence and are not consistent with OECTA bargaining practice.
It is unfortunate that ETFO has chosen to act in this manner. The challenge we face with our affiliate partners remain but we must focus on every effort to build solidarity and move forward. [sic]

OECTA's response is to ETFO President's Sam Hammond's message to his local presidents which was leaked earlier. It reads: 

It has come to my attention that OECTA is close to reaching a Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) deal with the government and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA). An OECTA deal will potentially affect the welfare of all teachers in the province. Despite repeated requests, OECTA has not advised ETFO about the content of their ongoing discussions with the government and the OCSTA.
If the current information is accurate the potential OECTA PDT deal is not one that would be acceptable to ETFO. We have been advised from a number of sources that the OECTA PDT deal includes, but is not limited to, the following components:
The deal will address the government parameters only 10 days of sick leave at 100% salary, that do not accumulate from year to year. 124 additional days of sick leave at 66 and 2/3% salary. 2 unpaid PA Days in 2012-13. 4 unpaid PA Days in 2013-14. Extending the salary grid to 15 years. No salary increase in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Agreement that the grid will be restructured for 2014. We are uncertain re the status of retirement gratuities but few OECTA local collective agreements include gratuities so forfeiting them would not be as detrimental as it would be to ETFO members.
It appears that there will be limited opportunity to bargain local issues.
The details in this email are based on the information that is available at this time. We will provide you with additional information when it becomes available. OECTA has continually refused to disclose the issues they are negotiating with the government and OCSTA. The information provided here is from multiple sources that we believe to be credible.
We continue to be committed to maintaining the integrity of ETFO local collective agreements and to bargain collective agreements at the local level. This information may be shared with ETFO members. [sic]

Commentary: Let's be big boys and girls here. The above statements are hardly secret or confidential anymore. They have been sent out and distributed to tens of thousands of ETFO and OECTA members. Please do not get angry and claim that I am "spilling the beans". Readers have been visiting my site non-stop for the past 24 hours or so seeking information.

Please know: OECTA does not bargain in public nor make public statements about private talks as a part of it's "Quiet Diplomacy" approach to any negotiation talks. This is nothing new. It is how OECTA does business. So I don't see why that should now suddenly suggest we are hiding anything or trying to make secret deals despite what the flurry of accusations and innuendo suggest.

There hasn't been any indication until now, at our local executive level, or in my discussions with my various OECTA contacts, that there are any outstanding conflicts between the different teacher affiliates, who despite their different strategies, have all collectively refused the government's PDT offer, OECTA included. That is until now, with this. Please don't start pointing any fingers our way. Any about face in PDT strategy, especially at this most delicate of times, is not OECTA's style. We are always quite steadfast and true.

OECTA has categorically denied that there is any truth to the rumours, as summarized in OECTA TSU President Rene Jansen's statement to our members above. Indeed there has been nothing in recent weeks to suggest that we were anywhere near a deal with the PDT talks whatsoever.

As you know, rumours of an impending Ontario provincial summer election fly. Premier McGuinty could visit the Govenor General within the next two days. The writ could then well be dropped for a July 19 Ontario Provincial government, if we are to believe the unfolding news stories, as I write this blog.

If anything, the mere suggestion that the Liberals would consider an election gambit at this point in time is, one fears, a clear sign that their party strategists think they can go it alone without our teacher support. The Liberal government's PDT demands may appeal to a soft conservative vote that has always liked it when the Conservative Party have gone after us in a similar manner. They might support the Liberal's should they call a snap election. However the demands remain unacceptable to all the teacher affiliates, OECTA included. We will not fearfully change our position.

I seriously doubt that any of us could rally our OECTA members to support a Liberal election campaign now, even if a "secret deal" were suddenly reached. The trust, since this spring, just is not there.

Anything else? This is strictly my guess: Should a summer election be called watch for OECTA to only offer support to a Liberal riding that is in great danger of a Conservative win. The Conservatives, as per our "Who Speaks for Student's?" campaign are still clearly the least pro-education of the 3 main Ontario political parties. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of NDP support, perhaps even in an instance where it is so close that they could snatch a seat from the Liberal government. With exam time upon us and summer holidays approaching, this is all very speculative of course. It would seem unlikely to me that we could do much if anything to rally our members to any side, should we so wish, as we all head out the school door for summer vacation.

What a mess! There are a lot of big political gambles being made. An OECTA "secret deal" with the Ontario Liberals isn't one of them! Any such gamble especially at this point in time, if ever, is unsound at best, and can only muddy the all ready unclear state of Ontario education politics now, for the summer, and in the fall ahead. For shame to believe otherwise!

PS: Comments to this blog are being posted without prejudice as long as they contribute to the discussion by providing further information or clarification of a constructive nature. Thanks.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to stir the hornets’ nest but OECTA did have a "me too" clause that allowed members to benefit from additional gains that ETFO bargained so OECTA could sign the offer in the last round and secure the extra 2% salary. That seems like a “we don’t’ stand with them” mentality. If in fact OECTA is going to agree to UNPAID professional development days then they are breaking with all other unions who don't want their members working for free. That is a slippery slope I don't want to try and climb. It seems that the PDT offer is awful and so I don't know why OECTA isn't standing in solidarity with all the other unions against an outrageous offer from our government.

Anonymous said...

Precisely Anonymous !. I can't help but feel that this was done in part to ensure that the "one public system" concept wouldn't be put on the table during this gov't's current term.

I have to say that, as an ETFO member, I feel betrayed by OECTAs actions. I hope that the OECTA membership sees this for what it really is, namely a bad deal, and that they have the courage to vote against it.

Anonymous said...

The recent OECTA deal puts ETFO members(me + 75999 others) in a tough and deep hole. The entire system of Catholic education is flawed to begin with, and it is no secret that if Boards want to save money, they will eventually join to create "super" schools. Many are evident across the Province. How will working conditions in these school be affected in light of recent news?
On another note, I am still upset about ETFO's decision to not include its members in a vote for 4%, and accept a 2% increase without our consent or vote. Talk about a union afraid to be busted up! The only organization where I do not have a choice to belong to...

Anonymous said...

Please rest assured that as an OECTA member, I can safely say that many of us are NOT happy with this deal. We feel that our leaders have definitely sold us out! They, unlike ETFO, did not ask us for our opinion or vote to assess how we would feel about certain potential changes in our collective agreements or to the collective bargaining process. This alone, gives me the impression that OECTA did not consider its members; they went to the PDT knowing they would be making concessions and accepting such a farce of a deal!

David, you state that there would be no time to organize our members due to the timing of the deal...how convenient for OECTA! Makes me think that the agreement was in fact made during mid June!! Kevin O'Dwyer has been spinning his PR web ever since!!

David Chiarelli said...

I posted ETFO's claim a secret deal had been made in a mid June blog. Also Kevin Dwyers statement in response. It sure would be good to have the events of July 5th clarified. I raised my concerns about the timing at our local emergency executive meeting before COP. I can very well understand why much suspicions exist!!!

David Chiarelli said...

In short, the Oecta messaging above, as I understood it and posted above in good faith at the time was at least in part patently wrong, a big part actually, so I definately want some answers about this whole affair too!

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