Opening Statement



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

OECTA PDT: What Next?

[New feature: "In Today's News" links included at bottom of my blog!]

So, what happens next with our OECTA PDT [Provincial Discussion table] agreement? First, please note that the MOU [Memo of Understanding] OECTA reached is not a collective agreement. You will not get to vote on accepting the MOU. It has all ready been ratified, as part of the bargaining process, by Provincial Executive, who did so as our elected representatives.

Your duly elected OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] executive met last night to discuss the terms with our president who will attend the COP [Council of Presidents] today. The local presidents are going to discuss the deal at great depth with Provincial Executive, the bargaining team and so on, as the next step in the process.

COP could theoretically decide not to ratify the agreement, which would pose an interesting situation as to how we proceed from there. However, the regular process is that our local unit CB [Collective Bargaining] teams will now work within the accepted terms of the PDT agreement to negotiate our own individual collective agreement contracts with each of the Catholic school boards.

You will vote to accept or reject your local unit's collective agreements once they are reached. As per the negotiation process, that is where you as a member get to vote and have your say, on your new contract or even by extension the PDT terms, if you reject it out of hand. You will then ultimately decide whether your collective agreement, based upon the PDT terms is accepted or rejected. As I understand it these are common negotiation procedures and nothing special OECTA has come up with, though I stand to the corrected.

Of course, realistically speaking, once provincial executive has approved the MOU, it is very hard to fight back at the local unit level by rejecting your contract. We could end up with a series of local "brush fire" rebellions, if you, will but they would lack the greater force and backing of OECTA provincial who have all ready ratified the deal. I doubt your unit would get much traction against the PDT deal by going rogue in such a manner.

Of course, if you approve of the PDT deal, as many members do, this is all a mute point. If you don't, and there are a lot of objections as well, ones other recourse either way comes up as a part of the democratic process during the provincial executive elections at next spring's OECTA AGM [Annual General Meeting].

Please know the phones have been ringing off the hook at the TSU office with your PDT likes and dislikes both being expressed at great length. I am bound not to reveal much about last nights "in camera" TSU Executive meeting since they were held in private.

Since the following concerns my own actions, let me say I voted against going into private and asked that the vote be recorded. Perhaps my position wasn't very practical, but I find the lack of timely information for our membership unacceptable. I am not happy with the provincial communication process to date at all. Be that as it may, strategically speaking the executive did have to discuss a lot of sensitive information quite freely without the political or confidentiality constraints an open meeting would pose. Perhaps it was an unusual request, but I needed to make a point, if not then there, then here now sharing my vote with you. Tiddly bits, I know but still.....

Suffice to say the pros and cons of the MOU were hashed out at great length and depth. Today President Rene Jansen goes to COP having heard an earful both ways, from both the membership and our executive. I have known and worked closely with Rene for many years. I am sure he will not discount either in representing our members interests at the COP. That's about the best assurance I can give you for now, whatever your views on the PDT agreement. So it goes and on and on and on, as author Kurt Vonnegut was so apt to say.

As you know my blog represents my own teacher union news and views, and is not an official mouth piece for OECTA TSU. This is me writing. I have explained the rationale for writing my blog at great length in my Blog Manifesto which you can still read or reread anytime in my Blog Archives located below this centre column. Some TSU'ers believe my blogs are a responsible, accountable and good modern way for me to communicate effectively with you, the members I represent. Others froth at the mouth at my mere mention. So be it.

I understand I walk, or rather write, a delicate line on my blogsite. I can and do share my background knowledge having been involved in OECTA politics and teacher government relations for a good many years now. I also try to reasonably follow the protocols on discussing controversial issues and sensitive matters. As important as I believe that is, it is not easy to do. Our union communication protocols definitely need to be redefined to reflect all the new information technology around us today. Like it or not, it is a fact of life.

A modern day Pravda blogsite is of little reader interest or use. I have never been one to toe a party line and writing party think anyway. My readership numbers, as recorded in the viewer visits counter at the top right of my site indicate that there is a lot of interest in the service I try to provide.

Usually I am recognized and greeted warmly, at the grassroots level anyway, as the blog guy when I make the rounds representing you on unit business. Allow me to venture, I must be fulfilling some important needs.

Let's also note that since July 5th, a tidal wave of information on the PDT deal has crashed all over the internet, with very little of it coming straight from OECTA. Indeed most of the information links I am providing, including to the MOU, came through other affiliates and internet sources. They were widely available from within 12 hours of the signing, if not sooner. That's no big secret, let me tell you!

OECTA is prudent in not wanting to say too much too soon since we are involved in a negotiation process. However there is also danger in saying too little, leaving the membership in the dark, and creating an impression that we are perhaps not being accountable to our membership. If you read the comments to my blogs or even just listen to the scuttlebutt on line and around the BBQ's this past week, there is sometimes a whiff of betrayal, whether it is warranted or not. Think this through as a member. Provincial President Dwyer announced that we were "nowhere near close' to making a deal on June 25th during the last week of school. Indeed, I faithfully reported, discussed and offered assurances with that in mind as everybody headed out our school doors for the holidays. See my "What Was Said" blogs on OECTA PDT from then.

Then on July 5th, one week into our holidays after everybody has gone their separate ways, it is suddenly announced that a deal has been reached. Ouch! I have received surprised, even shocked member enquiries  from as far away as Europe and Asia. Is it illogical for a member to worry that the deal was announced now on purpose, when they are away on summer holidays, and that a big cover up is going on?

In collective bargaining, as in politics, anything can and does happen. Still, in our present scenario it is not hard to feel blindsided. These sentiments can take on a life of their own, especially when little information is coming from OECTA. I strongly suggest a constructive review of our communications strategy will be needed to address these concerns for future use. One simply can not contain and regulate information in the old tried and trued ways with even the best of intentions anymore. Like it or not, that is the new reality.

I will continue to keep you advised and up to date on any important developments as they occur throughout the summer months. Hopefully, with the holidays here, I can definitely focus upon a lot of other interesting and not so trying escapades and escapes too. However, it is necessary to expand more on each of the terms in our OECTA PDT MUO in order to fully be in the know.

Your teachers' union has demonstrated a lot of fine negotiating skill in regards to the grid freeze, sick days, gratuities, and non monetary concessions that have been reached. Like many of you, I have serious concerns about contract stripping, union solidarity, and the economic debate. Still, we need to examine the terms of the MOU, and consider very carefully the undercurrent of provincial and union politics that will best inform our discussions and debates, in the union offices, or even out on our balcony's or backyards at night.

Alas, it is a fine summer day and the outdoors beckon. I will further address the issues in today's blog later on. Please stay tuned, and also know there is still a lot of more lighthearted summer type fare to come. Probably like many of you, PDT is one of the unlikeliest things I would like to dwell upon during my summer holidays, but so it goes, and on and on and on........................

To be further proofed, I'm outta here............




IN THE NEWS: TODAY'S LINKS:


OSSTF and AEFO to revisit the PDT table. Tim Hudek not impressed with OECTA Agreement. See:
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1224216--ontario-s-catholic-teachers-got-sweetheart-deal-says-tim-hudak

He's got another plan. See:
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1224559--conservative-tim-hudak-pushes-plan-for-poverty-not-prosperity#.T_y641P


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

David do you have a copy of the MOU you can post on your blog

David Chiarelli said...

Email me for the MOU pdf at davechiarelli@ gmail.com

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