Opening Statement



Friday, 24 August 2012

An OECTA Provincial + TSU/TECT Meeting Report

[Saturday news links below. Keep scrolling, but you might want to read this too...]

How odd to meet over an educational crisis during the summer holidays! However our OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] and TECT [Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers] membership did just that on August 22. Meeting with us starting at 1:45 in Toronto's Roy Thompson were OECTA President Kevin O'Dwyer, and Provincial CB [Collective Bargaining] Staff Officer David Church. Also TSU and TECT President's Rene Jansen and Mario Bernardo. The meeting was chaired by Doug McCarthy. Doug did an excellent job of using Robert's Rules of Order, to ensure that everybody had a chance to speak and to be heard in an orderly manner. I'm sure all of us who were there are grateful for a very interesting, informative and thought provoking meeting, regardless of how we might each feel about many of the OECTA PDT MOU [Ontario English Catholic Teachers Professional Discussion Table Memo of Understanding] issues discussed!

You should find the official OECTA reports on the meeting, soon I would hope, at one or all of these sites:

OECTA Provincial: http://www.oecta.on.ca/wps/portal
OECTA TSU: http://www.tsuoecta.org/
OECTA TECT: http://www.tect.org/

In the meantime, I will provide a few supplementary notes and personal observations from the meeting that you might find of interest. These are by no means official or complete. Be sure to visit the other websites above to learn a lot more about the OECTA PDT MOU terms and process, questions and explanations, etc. etc. etc. from the meeting reports. Here is what I saw, felt and heard:

Our TSU-TECT questions and concerns mostly focused on the PDT decision making and ratification process. I understand the members at the Sault Ste. Marie meeting last month focused more on the PDT terms, details and what they meant. Our members were certainly concerned about that too, but the questions were often more individual member orientated than general PDT term or process specific. At any rate the bigger picture will be of more general interest for our purposes here.

President O'Dwyer's and David Church's reviewed the PDT processes in detail to explain them to our members. Suffice to say here that it was acknowledged provincial will be reviewing the OECTA PDT decision making, ratification and communication process used in 2008 and 2012 on a go forward basis.

OECTA Provincial has decided to endorse the NDP candidate Ms. Fife in the Kitchener Waterloo by-election, along with the OSSTF, ETFO, + AEFO. The local Waterloo Catholic unit is remaining neutral in the race. No decision has been made yet on OECTA's possible involvement in Vaughan.

TSU President Rene Jansen and TECT President Mario Bernardo are both on record as having voted against the MOU at the COP [Council of Presidents]. Provincial will not reveal the complete list of how all the various local presidents voted until the first weekend of November. At that time the minutes from the COP meet will be approved, and the information released.

President Jansen invited our members who would like to get involved in changing the procedures to  apply for our TSU legislation committee, with an eye towards submitting motions to that effect at the Spring 2013 Provincial AGM. There are still openings on the committee, so if interested I'd suggest calling the TSU office asap!

The TCDSB got a great deal out of the OECTA PDT MOU since it removes our sick day bank and retirement gratuity, a long term TCDSB goal. Although the trustees voted on approving the MOU nothing has actually been received in writing yet by OECTA to make it official. Hmmm.

The OCSTA [Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association] drew a line just short of the Principals and VP's receiving 3 unpaid PD days, like the teachers, to help eliminate the grid freeze. Otherwise they were intransigent and walked out of the OECTA PDT meeting on July 4th before the MOU was signed. They insisted upon class size caps being removed, mandatory stay after school extracurricular and school PD meetings, and a claw back in benefits, among other demands. They were apposed to fair hire language and teacher professional assessment concessions as an unacceptable violation of their management rights. Wow! Imagine that! And it's all been confirmed!

As an interesting side note, the 3 unpaid PD days are days off. Call them Dalton Days or whatever. Even the Principals and VP's won't be paid for those days, and have no right to tell you to be at school. The 3 days will fall before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and March Break during the 2013-14 school year.

OECTA has asked our lawyer Paul Cavalluzo to review rough drafts of the Liberal "Putting Student's First" legislation due to very serious, unanticipated concerns. The Liberal government is now removing our basic labour rights by tampering with the Ontario Labour Act. OECTA will then carefully consider our next move, after hearing back from Paul.

Should the legislation not pass, it's unlikely anybody will be getting a 5.5% raise. It's unclear if our OECTA members will get back the concessions made in our PDT deal, as per the terms of our last contract, or even whether the MOU then perhaps becomes null and void. Legal minds are looking the ramifications over very carefully, and nothing is certain yet. We'll have to wait to hear more from OECTA Provincial.

MOU ratification process at the meeting. Fair enough. We don't get to vote on it as the procedures stand, so it is in effect a done deal. However, it also seemed to me that a lot of our members were unaware of another very important issue. PDT agreements are now very much a question of provincial verses local collective bargaining. That is a very big picture often missed in trying to contextualize our concerns. It's changing everything!

Since our Catholic trustees surrendered the right to local taxation during the Harris Years, despite an OECTA constitutional challenge, the provincial government is now our defacto paymaster. We must also recognize that OECTA agreed last December at COP to empower our table team to follow our 2008 PDT process for this round of talks. It had worked quite well before. However, the change in the Liberal PDT process, and government demands were suddenly changed on us this spring.

While it is easy to vilify others, everyone was caught by surprise with the Liberals about turn in their previous consultative and co-operative relationship with our teacher unions. It has been very challenging for OECTA to keep up with all the changes, and no matter how one feels, nothing is black and white. The issues are just not that clear cut or easy.

Although a lot of serious questions do have to be asked, please don't expect any easy answers, nor expect simple finger pointing to suffice. We face a lot of very crucial  challenges now, and in the years ahead. Everything, politically and contract wise has suddenly become a WHOLE lot more complicated, and nothing is certain anymore.

In discussions after the meeting, it was very clear to me that a lot of us seriously doubt that the Liberals consider teacher support necessary anymore for their election success. This is a pretty big gamble on their part. Perhaps the soft conservative vote will shift over to the Liberal side with their "Hudak light" version of teacher union bashing. However, so far the polling is anything but certain.

Many members seemed to agree that we need to remind the Liberals we are here, in no uncertain terms. As always OECTA supports the most educational friendly political candidates. Of course, that does not mean now, just like before, that we always support the Liberals. There was even speculation that, as when Conservative Education Minister Don Johnson targeted teachers during the Harris years, it is imperative we strike back. Hence the increasing calls for a combined union effort against the Minister Education in her riding of Etobicoke Lakeshore during the next provincial election.

 If the general consensus is that the PDT MOU deal was made with a gun to our head, in disregard of our many efforts to help Laurel Broten and the Liberal party in years past, then perhaps the decision will be that it is not wise to let the Liberals think they can just write us off and treat us with such blatant disregard. It will be very interesting to see how this about face in our support for Ms. Broten and the party unfolds in the high stake political gamble the minority Liberal government are taking.

Of course it's a dangerous gamble for us to take too. Should Tim Hudak's Conservatives form the next government, we may very well just have "cut off our nose to spite our face", as the saying goes. Possibly the Liberals are even thinking that as they plan their moves, and are squeezing us between a "rock and a hard place?" A lot more hard political discussion and thought will have to go into whatever we do next politically, that's for sure, but in the words of Bob Dylan, "the times they are a changing". Pardon all the phrases, but allow me one last one here. It's certainly a lot of "food for thought."

Provincial seemed to be acknowledged that the OECTA PDT communications with our members since last June requires a complete review. I don't believe the virtual news blackout worked for the best, unless one wants the raucous, inchoate anger often witnessed at Wednesday's meeting. I've often lamented the lack of information from OECTA over the course of my summer blogs. I strongly believe it's resulted in a lot of suspicion and confusion.

I once again encourage you, dear reader, to avail yourself of the news links you find here on my blog and elsewhere, including of course the info on the official OECTA websites. As members we need to educate ourselves about all the many underlining PDT, structural, procedural, political, economic, labour and various union issues at play to try to really understand at any great depth what has/is/will be happening. We are professionals. We can and will think for ourselves.

There has been a very interesting, complex debate raging this summer about all the different PDT issues, coming from a wide variety of different points of view. OECTA has not been very pro-active outside of the small handful of documents that were made available to us on our provincial website private member's only area. Everything else that's been written and said can't just be considered rubbish or manipulation! The larger debate and our member feelings of confidence and empowerment will and are developing in any number of directions with or without our little handful of OECTA provincial info pieces. One remains silent at their own peril!

Both OECTA provincial and our TSU communication plans remain of great interest to me on a go forward basis. There is a new media reality that has been creeping up on us and is now even threatening to overtake our old tried and true methods of communicating with our members like in years past.

I  have always advocated for the new technology of media, be it by Twitter or this blog, as excellent methods to communicate with you, the member's who I represent as your TSU 3rd VP. I believe they help me to be accountable and transparent in communicating with you, much more so than was possible before. Of course, more blogs and Tweets alone are not going to solve all our problems. However, I'm certain that if our unit was less resistant, cautious, control orientated and often downright unaccepting of these new mediums, rather than let's say relying on monthly or bi-monthly hard copy Highlight's newsletters, official office only emails, notices, and little attended public meetings, my blog would never have been of as much interest, nor taken off like it has since a year ago last April.

I welcome the 10,000 new reader visits to my blogsite this summer. I am honoured to be able to provide you with quick, easy access to info about what's been going on, in face of an otherwise near OECTA void on the information front, even if my blog is unofficial in nature. I hope that rather than uselessly try to condemn, or ban these type of useful tools for sharing publicly available information and materials, which are all over the place anyways, we can begin to accept and use them more widely, as a part of our communication plans. Otherwise history will not be on our side, as far as the new communication's revolution is concerned. In maybe other ways too!

Anyway, I begin to ramble. Please keep checking the official OECTA sites. I will posting news links that I hope you find valuable to be aware and wise about all the PDT MOU talk swirling about us. Some new links follow below:

In the News:

OSSTF invite to Queen's Park protest Tusday August 28 12:00 to 1:30:
http://www.osstf.on.ca/upcoming-aug-23-2012

Hudak confirms Conservatives will help Liberal's pass legislation: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-pcs-will-help-liberals-pass-bill-forcing-controversial-teachers-contract/article4496844/

Liberals ask for promise in writing: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/08/24/ontario-teacher-bill-pcs254.html

Huron Superior Catholic board agrees to MOU: http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=46244

OSSTF President denounces "anti-worker" legislation: http://www.osstf.on.ca/MR-Aug-23-2012

Legal firm of Hicks-Morley reports on new legislation and consequences for school boards: http://www.hicksmorley.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1339&catid=6

An excellent polling study and party prospectus for Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election: 
http://www.therecord.com/news/article/787105--fortress-witmer-under-attack-will-it-crumble

More news links added below and to follow! Be in the know!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi David. Thank you for your constant updates regarding the MOU and PSFA. I have a few comments to make. 1. Has Rene voted "NO" to endorse the MOU or did he abstain? In his e-mail to members, he wrote: "...has caused me not to vote to endorse the MOU". This can be understood as not having voted. 2. Why has OECTA and TSU been so quiet? They haven't even mentioned the rally scheduled for Tuesday at Queen's Park! This rally was started by ETFO and OSSTF but has snowballed! CUPE and other unions have joined this protest to support democracy and human rights!! Where is our leadership? They are hiding! Why not send out this info to their members? Do OECTA members not deserve a voice....being muzzled again?
I agree with your idea of embracing other forms of communication with the membership. Kudos to your blog and all that is happening on Twitter!! There is no time to wait for hardcopies...news happens quickly today and the print media cannot catch up!

David Chiarelli said...

These are good questions! I will clarify Rene's statement next time we meet. Also see my August 8 blog on Brock Breaks Oecta silence. Pllease find info for the Tues Queen's Park Rally and invite link from Osstf further down today's blog. I am in Miami right now, with a hurricane passing by, so I kinda doubt I will be around for a few days but will keep updating my links for you here on my site. Hope this is of some small help!

Anonymous said...

Why would you attend the rally? YOUR "association" AGREED to the terms and conditions that are being rallied against. I, for one, as an OECTA member, would be ASHAMED to go to a rally against the terms and conditions that my own "association" AGREED TO on my behalf. OECTA sold out its own members first, and then sold out the other unions as well - at least to their credit, they are sticking to their guns and telling the government and OECTA that the PDT-MOU is a pile of rubbish. In my opinion, the rallies that OECTA members should be contemplating at this point are those that aim to rid our own 'association' of its cowardly leadership group.

'69 bug guy said...

Thank you David for your blog comments. I am one of the new 10,000 and am an OSSTF member. I found your site in early July when googling "OECTA Teacher Response to MOU". I wanted to know what the OECTA teachers really thought about their leadership signing the MOU. Unfortunately the OECTA teachers were/are very quiet on the subject as nary a comment/opinion could be found online.

I continue to shake my head at the OECTA leadership. I must, however, finally conclude that the OECTA union truly feels it is 'separate' from its Public counterparts. A tough pedagogical pill to swallow when we are all educating Ontario's children 'together'.

The remaining non-OECTA teachers will have an interesting week beginning tomorrow. In lieu of setting up our classrooms we will be at Queen's Park, rallying together, to try to convince our premier to change his direction.

The OECTA events of early July certainly painted Public School Teachers into a corner. We are in a corner that will require a "David vs Goliath" stand . It is a "David" kind of stand that I am proud to see the Public school teachers champion.

Anonymous said...

David - thank you for your site. One often thinks they are alone in their views. I share your views and questions. Would it not be great to hold a general meeting where one can question the intent or decisions of OECTA directly - though i doubt we would get an honest response. I have witnessed my own local president do a complete 360 - she went from feeling sick when news first came out to now supporting Kevin's beliefs. How easily one becomes spineless and brainwashed. I can assure you this is not the same OECTA voice we heard in the past - especially at the Collective Bargaining Workshops. I have lost all faith in OECTA. In fact if we held a vote to join another union - I would definitely think hard about it. The simple truth no matter where one stands in this issue is this: OECTA has no trust in its' membership - proof is they never asked us to vote on this issue or asked for input. OECTA Catholic values - Social Justice? Oh ya - Bullies! Think about it! OECTA has acted just as irresponsible as our government - they think they can dictate. If we do not stand up to these bullies, what's next? They have just diminished everything we stood for (yes past tense). I for one am tired of this.

Anonymous said...

69 bug guy - to be blunt, you should know that the majority of OECTA members are embarrassed and disgusted by the cowardly actions of their 'leadership'. Just read what David wrote about the tone of the Toronto OECTA meeting with O'Dwyer/Church. You are right - OECTA have not only sold out their own members, but, by extension, the membership of the other affiliates as per this week's legislation. As for the paucity of OECTA members' reactions - I think that is the combination of two things: 1) The cowardice shown by OECTA in reaching a deal 4 days after the summer holidays (even though rumours of a secret deal circulated throughout June). OECTA leaders did not have the courage to face their members with these parameters in June, face to face, and even assured us at that time they were erroneous! When the MOU was announced, many of the teachers I know were STUNNED. 2) The second, and in my opinion, the far more significant reason for the silence of OECTA teachers, is embarrassment. I think the majority of OECTA members are embarrassed at what their leaders have done, and the ramifications that these actions have had on the other affiliates. What do you do when you're embarrassed? You clam up.

I too, have lost all faith in OECTA.

Anonymous said...

You are 100% correct. You forgot to mention the Principals and VPs are also feeling the same way - how dare OECTA work out the details of their working conditions (since they too were mentioned in the MOU).

We really should somehow have a vote of non-confidence - time for change. My teacher friends from other unions are making up new slogans for OECTA - the word corrupt is in it.

Anonymous said...

O'Dwyer did explain at the Toronto meeting that Broten held a news conference before the council of presidents could ratify the agreement. He said that when he spoke to someone in the government (was it the premier himself, I can't recall), even he was surprised that the COP didn't have any opportunity before that news conference. Would the COP vote have been different otherwise? Who knows. As for the teacher response, considering the turnout in Toronto on August 23, I don't know what to think. I saw, what appeared to be, alot of experienced teachers - those same teachers that fought the hardest and lost the most. With a combined membership of over 5000 teachers, you can't attribute the small turnout to people being away. David, where/when on the record did the TECT president say he voted no?

Anonymous said...

David,
I have to say thank you for all your hard work in keeping this blog updated. I am a member of TECT and the only way I've found out ANY INFORMATION on this mess is through your blog. As a member of OECTA I am flabbergasted that I was unable to exercise my right to sign on to this contract...as far as I'm concerned I pay WAY TOO much in union dues not to have a say. Truly, I'm ashamed of OECTA's actions and given the choice I would gladly "vote myself" out of this union. If they're not going to stand up for me, I might as well save the union dues I pay.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that the most experienced teachers lost the most in this deal. It is the "most experienced" teachers in units that have retirement gratuities that presently 'qualify' for these gratuities and WILL STILL RECEIVE THEM. On the other end of the spectrum, young teachers on the grid have had their grid movement protected through the 3 unpaid days, which equals a 1.5 per cent pay cut for everyone. Here is the nasty part - teachers in the middle - near or at the end of the grid, but not yet qualifying for their gratuity - got ran over by O'Dwyer's bus and backed up on by Jarvis' steamroller. There are a significant number of teachers in my school in this position and they are NOT pleased. OECTA cynically created divisions and DID NOT spread the pain around evenly as they claimed to have done in their insipid "Q & A" on the OECTA members website. OECTA leaders looked after their senior members (which the OECTA leadership is also largely made up of), and to some extent, their younger teachers. Those in the middle got shanked, big time, by their own "union".

Anonymous said...

The question then is.....what do we do? Can we join another union? Something has to be done! I have no answer - looking for someone who knows more about the rules/regulations and has know how to lead the way. I do believe our members would support a change - especially when someone truly spells out how injustice this MOU is. WOW - and OECTA preached social justice? What Cr@p. Corrupt organization - good work OECTA you have single handedly divided and alienated us against our co-workers, friends, each other, other unions. Just look at what the Liberals are doing in the North with Ontario Northland. They are trying to sell it off - hoping people in North Bay won't notice, but even if they do - people in Southern Ontario where the majority of votes are may not care or even know what Ontario Northland is - so hey screw them - sell it off. Times are changing my friends - no honour in anything anymore.

Anonymous said...

Teachers near the end of the grid were not on the picket lines during the Harris years or part of wage freezes and unpaid days during the Rae years. They did not forgo their wages to put younger teachers on the proper place on the grid. Teachers nearing retirement now have 3 years of their best 5 frozen. Teachers with well over 200 sick days (and there are many) have lost hundreds of days that, in my opinion, others have already been compensated for. Teachers with less than 10 years experience have only worked for the education premier, and up until now, the times have been good. Maybe it is time for the older teachers to step aside and see what our younger counterparts can do for the profession.

Anonymous said...

This is my point exactly - OECTA has divided and pitted its own members against each other. At the beginning of the school year, those divisions will be clear to see. Ugly, ugly business perpetrated by OECTA on its membership.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog! Enough of pay your dues but don't have a vote or any say in running things! Remember that extracurricular activities are VOLUNTARY! Fight the Power!

Post a Comment

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!