Opening Statement



Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Brock Breaks OECTA "Cone of Silence"!


Oecta Halton Elementary Unit President Richard Brock has become the first member of the Council of Presidents to publicly speak out against our OECT PDT agreement. Richard Brock's comments came on the heels of Premier McGuinty's recent statement that he wants the other Ontario teacher affiliates to voluntarily use the agreement as a PDT "road map" for their own deal, or he will recall Queens Park to legislate the PDT terms for their next contract, by August 31. And so the drama continues! The irascible Brock is quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying;

“It’s a road map to disaster,” Richard Brock, president of the Halton Catholic Elementary Teacher’s Association, said in an interview on Friday. “I’m disgusted and embarrassed by it.” 
Mr. Brock said the union agreed to concessions without seeking “one iota” of input from local bargaining groups. He plans to explore every avenue to unwind it, including going to the province’s Labour Relations Board.

The OECTA PDT consulting process has been very contentious, even among our own membership. Mr. Brock is angry that provincial did not seek "one iota" of input from the local unit CB [Collective Bargaining] committees on the many concessions they agreed upon in our MOU [Memo of Understanding]. He would seem to be perfectly correct on this point with the caveat that the local CB teams were in contact with Provincial during the spring before it was signed. The surprise MOU itself only required the Provincial Executive and COP's consent for ratification purposes on and then after July 5th respectively.

OECTA's PDT process could be changed for future purposes by motions and amendments at our OECTA Spring 2013. The reps from each unit can also express the membership's pleasure or displeasure with the way the deal was made when voting for the next provincial executive at that time. Otherwise, whether one agrees or disagree with President Brock, and the way it was carried out, the OECTA PDT agreement is a done deal.

What was the ratification process? I am including the OECTA PT Timetable from June 21st to July 5th below so you can better  follow what happened at the executive end. You will note that our provincial negotiating team reached an agreement with the MOE at 8:45 am on July 5th. It was approved at an executive meeting held between 10:45 am and 12:30 pm. An OECTA press statement followed at 1pm. There is a timing discrepancy between the MOE and provincial announcements that caused some confusion and concern, but you can read that below. I will defer that for now so as not to digress.

Next, at the July 10 COP [Council of Presidents' Meeting] 42 unit presidents voted for, and 24 against the July 5th OECTA PDT MOU. Members have since privately talked with their different unit presidents to find out how they voted, but most of us wouldn't know, as nothing official has so far been been released. We have not seen the recorded vote made at the in camera COP meeting. Nor have any of the presidents publicly stepped forward to denounce the deal until now.

Our OECTA private member website contains a copy of the MOU, the PDT timetable, a Q+A on the agreement, as well as President Dwyer's provincial letter to the members, and a collection of past CB Bulletins. Most if not all of these have also been previously forwarded by snail and email to the members,
if you have been around to read them. A new posting wasn't added until the letter about the London Catholic Board, dated August 3rd. OECTA Provincial has also emailed out copies. I will address the London issue in my next blog.

President Dwyer and General Secretary Marshall Jarvis have been scheduled for speaking engagements late this month and into September with at least some of our units. We know they will be meeting the Dufferin Peel members on August 23rd. We are awaiting the announcement of a similar Toronto Secondary Unit meeting, currently thought to be in either during the last week of August, or the first week back to school.

It would be my guesstimate, and that's all it is, that any further public announcements by the individual presidents would occur during that time frame. Provincial will ostensibly be coming around then with more information since all of our members will have returned from their summer holidays. Meanwhile those presidents, executives and members who like Richard are "disgusted and embarrassed" will probably have to continue to wait before any further discussion ensues with provincial over whether or not our PDT agreement is "a road map to disaster", as he claims.

The frustration is quite palpable amongst many of the members corresponding with me. I can appreciate Richard Brock's candour. As a TSU executive member, I officially met along with our other officers, to advise President Rene Jansen on how we thought he should vote before COP met. Rene also assured me that he would be making an announcement explaining to our membership how he voted and why. It's been a long wait. It would be my best guess that none of these announcements are scheduled until the end of the month. Then again, President Brock has now broken the silence. What next?

Much of today's info is a rehash of my previous OETA PDT blogs which you can still find in my Blog Archives for July and August. More info on the ratification process can be found on my July 10th blog: What Next?" I told you then that I advised Rene not to vote for the deal. You know the score. Sigh! Alas! My statements are my own. They are supported by publicly available primary resources,documents, statements, info and opinions etc. etc. etc., that are freely and widely available in the mainstream media if not the OECTA site, and so it goes, and on and on and on.

Officially speaking, I don't know what more I can say about OECTA's PDT information strategy. As far as ratification goes, we were all sent Provincials PDT Q+A which states:

Q.  Will I get a chance to vote on the provincial agreement? A.   No. This is a memorandum of understanding between OECTA and the Ministry of Education; this is not a collective agreement. The agreement has been ratified by the OECTA Provincial Executive, who are your elected representatives. You will have a chance to vote on any local agreement that may be negotiated by your local collective bargaining team.

I don't think provincial can be any more blunt than that in explaining the nuts and bolts of the OECTA PDT decision making process. It will be very interesting to see how our members react in the month ahead as we  all return to school after simmering over the OECTA PT for the past two months. The Ontario Liberal, Conservative and NDP political circus will still be carrying on. The MOE August 31 contract deadline will  loom large over everything that happens from here on in. Without doubt, we live in very interesting times. They may be just about to get a whole lot more hot blooded however one might feel about our PDT deal!

Richard Brock will no doubt continue to "explore every avenue" including the Provincial Labour Board to "unwind the deal" from within. Successful or not, one suspects he will not be alone in his quest! Intentional or not, and in my opinion it most certainly is, it seems like there is an "OECTA Cone of Silence" secret mentality hanging over us. My baby boomer readers will recall Agent Maxwell Smart and the Chief always entered the "Cone of Silence" when talking about important, secret matters in the TV Comedy "Get Smart". It was always inevitably to useless effect. Indeed, our own Cone of Silence is certainly creating a lot of anger and suspicion on it's own, by it's very secretive nature, outside our provincial office.

Will our members suspect that where there is smoke there is also fire? Or will they be glad for the way provincial has made and handled the PDT deal in our summer absence? I've discussed my own views on executive accountability and transparency in my "Confidentiality Agreement" blogs last November and December. I distrust big secrets equally of course, be they from the church, the school board, or even our own teachers' union. We are quick to the fight when our school boards act secretively and expect us to just go along with their plans. It is wrong to allow our own association to act the same way, if that's what's happening now, as it most certainly seems.

Do you know how to grow mushrooms? Quite frankly it makes me wince, as I consider the answer, to even suspect that is what is happening here. I can quite easily understand Richard Brock's angst, despite my usual high regard for our OECTA leadership. It's very disconcerting and apt to make one fear for the worst, when we are left in the dark about what's happening, by those who we choose to represent us. These feelings quite naturally take root in the deafening silence. Do good Catholic teachers just willing wait and not question authority because that's what we are told to do? Not me, nor many of the rest of you either! As Maxwell Smart was apt to say, "Sorry about that chief", but we need some good answers, better too soon than too late!

The complete Globe article with Richard Brock is at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontarios-deal-with-english-catholic-teachers-union-starts-to-crumble/article4462698/

You will note that the Globe article also discusses the trustees, most notably the public school board. I look forward to further commenting on our Catholic Boards, in particular the Lindsey Catholic Board, in my next blog.

You will find the OECTA PDT time table below. It covers up to and including July 5th. As with the the MOE time table from my last blog, you might want to consider the language and information very carefully as you read and begin to compare, for your own erudition, our slim OECTA info piece.

Here it is if you haven't seen it all ready:

June 21, 2012
• A Special Council of Presidents’ meeting is held to provided council members with a detailed and omprehensive understanding of the status of the PDT talks.



June 28, 2012
• OECTA presents the government with a comprehensive offer that meets the government’s fiscal
parameters and achieves real savings, while protecting student learning in the classrooms and is in the
interests of Catholic teachers.

July 4, 2012
• The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association leaves the PDT table at approximately 11:30 p.m.

July 5, 2012 (times are approximate)

8:45 a.m.
OECTA signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government.

9:30 a.m. 
Unit presidents are notified that both the government and OECTA will hold press conferences to provide an update on the status of the PDT talks.

10:30 a.m. 
Minister Broten holds a press conference announcing that an agreement has been reached with OECTA and provides a significant level of detail about the agreement.While the Minister’s press conference is taking place, the OECTA Provincial Executive meets to consider the MOU signed earlier in the morning. The Provincial Executive is required to ratify the MOU prior to release of any information to unit presidents. This meeting was held from approximately 10:45 a.m. to approximately 12:30 p.m.


12:40 p.m.
Unit and OTBU presidents are notified that the agreement was ratified by the Provincial Executive and are provided with OECTA’s news release regarding the agreement.

1:00 p.m.
OECTA President Kevin O’Dwyer holds a press conference at OECTA provincial office as the OECTA news release is distributed to news outlets and posted on the OECTA website.

2:20 p.m.
Unit and OTBU presidents are provided with a letter to members from the president and a chart providing details about the agreement. Both of these are posted on the OECTA members-only website and will be mailed to each member.

Get Smart? "The Code of Silence" Model #1:


Model #2 Alternate: Even more private but don't forget your breath mints!


Marshall! Kevin! What's with our OECTA Cone of Silence anyway? Enquiring minds need to know!

The last word? See the reader "Comments" link below my last blog......

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Cone of Silence"? With all due respect, David, that is far too charitable to describe OECTA provincial leadership. "Cone of Deceit", "Cone of Self-Interest", or perhaps "Cone of Cowardice" would be a little closer to the truth on the behavior of our 'leaders'. Kudos to Richard Brock. It's good to know that there are still people in OECTA who know what being in a labour movement is supposed to be about. Shame on the OECTA provincial oligarchs.

Anonymous said...

OECTA members against the PDT/MOU...see you at the Protest Rally Today...next location to protest needs to be the OECTA Provincial Office...Why didn't every member of OECTA get to vote on the MOU? Kevin O'Dwyer needs to answer that question!

Signed...Every OECTA member deserved a vote on the MOU

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to start an online petition for OECTA members against the MOU...maybe call it "Why Didn't Kevin O'Dwyer let me vote on the MOU?".....Just saying....

David Chiarelli said...

In all fairness current OECTA procedures were followed, as approved at COP in december. The challenge now is to draft motions for change and get enough members to vote for them at OECTA AGM 2013. Not the happiest solution but that is the way the game is played.

Anonymous said...

David, you know as well as I those types of changes have little chance of happening. 42-24 vote for MOU at the COP will likely roughly mirror how any radical AGM motions will be defeated. Those loyal presidents will whip those votes at the AGM. What are we left with? A divided "union" that has been scissored by its own leaders. Won't it be interesting to see how each unit voted, once they get around to letting us peons see such info. I was obviously wrong to have expected more from O'Dwyer and Jarvis, and have no faith left in OECTA. Nasty, cynical business, this is.

Anonymous said...

So...if you think about this long enough and starts lining things up, one would wonder if this was done to set the stage for what has happened. Of course they did not want the general membership to vote - we just pay their salaries. This only leads one to believe that we do not know the entire truth of what occurred. Hmmmmm...transparency, I think not. No matter what - they are to represent the wishes of the majority of the membership! From where I am standing, it is easy to see why OECTA and the Liberals worked out this deal - they are of one mind. Do you smell fish?

David Chiarelli said...

Gotcha. Please know I am very uncomfortable and upset about the whole "process" too. These are just the arguments being used to explain why we don't get a vote. I think it was a big political mistake to proceed as they did, and the deafening silence from the main office continues, and is truly frightening.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog! OK so "proper" procedure was followed during the MOU....How affected by these contract strips are O'Dwyer, Jarvis, and #3? Let's see them transparently take equal proportional cuts in their wages too over the next two years! It's only "proper!"

Anonymous said...

David - you have provided great insight into this from day one. We thank you. Why do you say the silence is truly frightening? I really don't know if I want to hear your answer - not because I won't believe you, but because I probably will. More and more people are seeing it is not a light at the end of this tunnel....but a freaking TRAIN - a big red one! So....do you agree with the post above your last one - smell fish?

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks for all the kind words! If you are referring to the TCDSB voting to approve the MOU remember this: The deal gave away our sick day bank and gratuity deal which we have been fighting to protect for years! Of course they are glad. Secondly they haven't provided anything in writing. Hedging their bets in case they can get more? Smells worse than fish!

Anonymous said...

You're right - the silence IS deafening. Cowardly and cynical, too. Even if we didn't get a vote, the details of the PDT should have at the VERY least been floated out to us for feedback before they proceeded with it. Instead, when the details were leaked by ETFO, we were told "no, no, it's not true!" Guess what? It WAS true. The smelly red fish (herring?) obviously meant more to OECTA leadership than its members' interests. Disgraceful, and worthy of contempt.

Anonymous said...

Actually David - I am referring to the entire process. I heard rumours about the details of the deal weeks before the actual press release. It seems almost like a set up in which OECTA and the gov. agreed to work together on. The whole thing just doesn't seem right. OECTA deals with the gov't, AEFO had their Union President hired by the Ministry just near the end of the school year - and yet these are the only 2 unions who have agreed to this MOU. From what I understand the boards that have signed on are now pissed because legislation if passed will not apply to them - they must abide by the terms of the MOU in which they have signed and agreed to - giving away much of thier right on who to hire and how. HA - if they feel betrayed...get in line.

David Chiarelli said...

See my What Was Said blogs from June 18th and 28th. I have a really hard time reconciling what we were told with what happened. Apparantly Sam's comments came from a meeting with OECTA mid June and were misconstrued and based upon conjecture, for politial reasons. Apparantly the MOE changed some of its position, like on sick days, in early July, with the premier's consent. When the trustees walked, after trying to throw up roadblocks all the time, out of their own self interest, a breakthrough was made. A supposedly acceptable deal became possible. As per a desicion by COP in December only the Provincial executive had to ratify it, then take it back to COP. I'm only telling you what the party line seems to be since July 5th. Go figure.However, in the case of OCSTA don't cry too many tears. They have NEVER been acting out of concern for us, or a fair deal, only their own self interests. It's sad to think we need the MOE to insist our boards have fair and transparant hiring policy and begin to acknowledge teacher professionalism in their decisionmaking, but so it is. This is what we have been up against as Catholic teachers. Theirs is a very draconian top down type of supposedly Catholic value driven agenda. This has been a very big break through for us and I believe the MOE will/ is taking them to task. As for everything else, I too find it pretty hard to follow anymore too and the silence issue is completely unacceptable, wrong minded, and no doubt contributes to everything seeming as suspicous as hell. I also would be opposed to our own union thinking and acting just like the boards as they go it alone, supposedly in our best interests. One has to be careful one does not become just like ones enemy, even in the good fight. The accountability and transparancy issues here are quite disturbing. Thanks for all your kind words and great questions. I hope this is of some small help.

Anonymous said...

My hat off to you! Yes - your thoughts are in line with mine. I guess we answer our own question as to why a desicion by COP in December was made to only have the Provincial executive ratify. It's because the truth is so obvious - they knew professionals like us would see through it. And yes - you are 100% correct in stating "One has to be careful one does not become just like ones enemy, even in the good fight." Well put! I am truly amazed and give credit to James Ryan for showing up at the rally. That alone speaks volumes. I guess we know watch and see what happens. Here's a good question - suppose the MOU does not pass legislature, that means the previous contract rolls over - they get thier % increases - are we still under the MOU agreement? In other words the "me to" clause that Kevin speaks off - will it apply? I understand that since the gov't took the hiring part out of the MOU - they stated boards that signed on are still obligated to obide by it - but that's the board, they don't have a "me to" clause. One can only predict. Thanks for your insight and your comments - greatly appreciated.

David Chiarelli said...

Yup. Nobody really knows what happens if the legislation doesn't pass but they all have their lawyers working on it 24/7. That would probably explain why the Catholic boards have been applying for conciliation, or why the TCDSB approved, but not in writing, the MOU. Lots of fancy foot work here. Now let's see how many trip up!

Anonymous said...

The fish smell....who bets that the three horsemen of the OECTA/MOU apocalypse will parachute out to Liberal appointed government positions in the future?

Anonymous said...

Hi....is each member of OECTA going to be allowed to vote for the next OECTA provincial president? If not, how do we make that happen? Had enough with the status quo...we need change...NOW....while we still have some benefits left.

Anonymous said...

Could you please tell us what Richard Brock and other OECTA members are doing to oppose the secretive/undemocratic MOU/PDT contract strip process?

David Chiarelli said...

Every OECTA member can apply to be a delegate to the OECTA AGM next spring. The provincial executive elections are held then, with each member of the AGM assembly being allowed to vote by secret ballot. You would apply through your local unit to attend. I have heard nothing more about Richard Block's plans, but nobody, even at provincial, seems to be saying much if anything new and official yet. You might want to google him at his unit's website and ask him, or otherwise stay tuned here. I will share any new info as soon as I find out.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the BUL&*^%$ coming from the OECTA provincial office. Can't stand it! In Kevin's letter to his so called members, he states:

"Bill 115 does not spell the end of collective bargaining for OECTA members. At the conclusion of this collective agreement, August 31, 2014, the Association will once again be operating under the full provisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Act, which governs collective bargaining."

My question is how can I believe you? You did not even trust your own membership to vote! SHAME! Kevin states at the end of August 31, 2014, the Association will once again be operating under the full provisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Act, which governs collective bargaining. Why does this not apply NOW? What is different between now and 2014? ANSWER THAT!

Anonymous said...

What's with the letter sent by kevin o'dwyer to every halton catholic school telling us how bad our local president Richard Brock is to oppose the MOU? O'Dwyer is basically trying to muzzle any dissent by any member who he did not allow to vote on the MOU in the first place. How democratic! Anyway a real union leader can handle disagreement...grow up ! New t shirt slogan...O'Dwyer Let your Anti-MOU OECTA Members Have Free Speech!......Keep Speaking Up for your membership Richard!

David Chiarelli said...

I have not seen nor heard of this letter. Can you forward me a pdf asap for consideration? Also, do you have an email address for Richard?

Anonymous said...

David....how can a member introduce through his/her unit or individually a new bylaw to be voted on at the 2013 AGM or as soon as possible? A new bylaw to make sure that every OECTA member gets a vote on any new agreements before they are passed by OECTA Provincial Executive? So that the MOU never happens again without a full membership vote. Also so that anyone running for OECTA Provincial Executive be subject to a vote by every OECTA member?

Anonymous said...

Letter sent to you at tsu office. Halton OECTA filing a complaint against OECTA Provincial Office with Ontario Labour Relations Board...richardbrock@sympatico.ca

David Chiarelli said...

Forms should be availabl to submit thru your unit soon, for UAG 2012. Then there should be a resolutions meeting where members can discuss and vote on whether to forward ot for AGM. In TSU applications to attend AGM are due early January and the successful candidates announced shortly thereafter. Its good to go if your resolution is passed to drum up support and speak to it on the floor. The timelines may vary between units. call your office soon. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see OECTA dissolved. I was always a happier camper as an OSSTF member.

David Chiarelli said...

The end result of this could be that a lot of OECTA members would rather belong to ETFO or OSSTF. Or maybe not even union members at all. That would certainly help the conservatives introduce the so called Right to Work route to gutting unions. Would it be heretical to suggest one big province wide teachers union would be the best way to go? Strength in numbers, especially when we come under attack?

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