Opening Statement



Tuesday, 7 August 2012

ETFO + MOE: Sparks Fly!

Sparks flew when ETFO [Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario] met with the MOE [Ministry of Education] on August 2nd in an attempt to restart their stalled PDT [Provincial Discussion Table] talks! For an overview see: http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2012/08/03/teachers-union-head-upset-over-stalled-talks

Here's the ETFO press releasehttp://www.controlyourfuture.ca/etfo_news/president-hammond-meets-with-minister-of-education/

For a point by point breakdown of the discussion visit the EFTO website at: http://www.controlyourfuture.ca/

[By the way, if we compare ETFO's regular member updates, with the support documents attached, to those on our our own OECTA site, what do we see? Last time I visited the member's area there were still only a small handful of articles mostly dating back to early July. Tch! Tch!]

Essentially it seems the MOE told ETFO if they want a deal to come to back with something based upon the OECTA "road map" agreement. As we know ETFO is opposed to the terms of the deal. The discussion then focused on the new August 31 deadline for contracts to be in place. Neither the MOE or ETFO seem to have made any progress with their diametrically opposed positions on either issue. What happens when metal meets metal? Sparks fly!

The MOE and Mr. McGuinty's fear of a school strike come September 3 have been categorically rejected by all the teacher affiliates. Still, the media is game to mostly play along with the government statements from last week. They proved useful to justify why the Liberals are now moving the contract deadline ahead for the school boards. Perhaps the Globe and Mail editorial is still worth a rare thinkful news read, but these are few and far between. See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/start-of-ontarios-school-year-in-jeopardy-if-labour-talks-stall/article4449756/

Here is the MOE's response to the breakdown in it's talks with the other affiliates since July 5th OECTA PDT agreement:. http://unionhost.ca/uploads/Communication-from-Minister-Jul23-2012.pdf

Here is the full text of the MOE's Funding Framework For Local Bargaininghttp://unionhost.ca/uploads/B13E-Memo.pdf

From the MOE's perspective the PDT talks have gone on far too long. See their time line account of the progress and lack of progress to date. It's worth considering the wording and focus used. I will be further examining the various time line's currently in circulation soon. Meanwhile see: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/nr/12.07/bg0730.html

Commentary: Both ETFO and OSSTF [the Ontario Secondary School Teacher Federation] said as early as this June, that they were going to begin start taking strike votes later this month and next. A strike vote, of course, would allow the affiliates to commence a wide variety of job actions, for example work to rule, and escalate or step up the ante, to a full blown work stoppage, or strike.

The MOE probably sees this as a strategic way to increase pressure on the government to reach a deal with them, on the affiliates terms. Still, it also let's the affiliates be able to claim that they haven't said they are actually going to strike. They've been clear that it certainly won't be next month when classes resume as well.

What to do? The Liberal government set an unrealistic deadline for contracts to be in place by August 31. Legally speaking, it's seems uncertain whether the existing teacher contracts would simply roll over giving everybody, but OECTA, a 5.5% raise in pay. Still the government is strategically letting everyone know the prospect is unacceptable by overplaying it's hand, with it's latest accusations and deadline demands.

By claiming he'll recall the legislature to pass the MOE's PDT terms into law, without ETFO and OSSTF's consent, Mr. Guinty is taking a gamble. It is uncertain, if not highly unlikely that either the NDP [New Democratic Party] or Conservative parties would support any such legislation put forth by the Liberal minority government. Andrea Horwath hasn't been overtly active in the PDT debate, but the NDP are not going to risk voting against their union support, while Tim Hudak's Conservatives have let it be known they think the OECTA PDT Agreement is not anti-union enough.

A simple abstention could let the legislation pass allowing the real political jockeying to take place this fall when everybody is normally back at the legislature from summer holidays for business as usual. Still it would seem a spineless act for either the Conservatives and/ or the NDP to take. Mr. McGuinty could come across as a reminted strong premier willing to take the unions to task. Such a hard line position would seem a lot more easier for the soft conservative Ontario voter to take, in contrast to the ultra right wing Wisconsin style anti-union stance of the Hudak Conservatives. Tim's recent grandstanding can still quite arguably bring back ugly memories of the strike plagued Harris years in the minds of the average man and woman on the streets with a little persuasion.

While Ms Horwath's NDP dithers on taking a strong, openly pro-active teacher union stance, either way she loses. Vote yes for the Liberal legislation and she loses her union support like Bob Rae did. Vote no and she seems to be pandering to the "big, bad unions in the public eye. It's a delicate balancing act. If she stumbles we all could be plunged back into the Harris years.

Opposition leader Mr. Tim Hudak's Conservatives certainly wouldn't vote yes. It would alienate his hardcore right wing base, who are back contentedly lapping up his rabid, anti labour, fear mongering sentiments as of late. If he votes no, he positions himself further from the safe centre right position in which Ontario elections are usually either lost or won.

Should either party vote against the McGuinty Liberal's PDT legislation, the prospects might look good for the minority government party, which becomes the only "reasonable voice" in Ontario politics. Then again, the Liberals also risk creating a real muddle for themselves, and us as teachers, in the fall legislature. If he fails with his tough guy act, Mr. Guinty could well provide Mr. Hudak with an empty political stage to play his much stronger, anti union posture to greater effect. He could quite conceivably gain a lot of public support to crack down on the "bad union thugs", perhaps once and for all, with his much touted anti-union, labour plans, should the minority government fall anytime soon. No doubt there is a lot at stake with this fall's two by-election results!

As teacher union members we know the strong arguments for the good fight to protect our contracts. However, even our various critiques of the Drummond Report and the government's actions thereafter, as obvious as they might seem, are not necessarily convincing to a easily susceptible public during hard economic times. The media can easily turn our pay and benefits against us in the public opinion polls. The weak underlying economic assumption that our teacher contracts are somehow responsible as a scapegoat for the provincial debt during the current world economic crisis is dubious at best. Still, consider the results of the Toronto Sun's recent mock poll on whether the province should pass legislation banning teacher strikes. Sure it's easy to stack an open website poll whichever way you want. Don't think for a minute that the Sun and the other prevelent right wing media aren't all ready scheming to help the Hudak Conservatives create Wisconsin North in the province of Ontario, as per their obvious, often powerful and long standing leanings. See the poll results at:  http://www.torontosun.com/poll/should-the-province-pass-legislation-to-ensure-teachers-do-not-go-on-strike

When anybody "puts their foot down" in political game playing, they then also risk sticking it in their mouth. Perhaps OECTA is politically astute to have made a deal in early summer, and  then hope the members' sentiments will simmer without much said until General Secretary Marshall Jarvis and President Kevin O'Dwyer make the rounds of the local units this fall, showing in retrospect, how it was the best solution. Then again, maybe not! At the risk of being cliche, two months is a lifetime in politics. Anything can happen, and often will. I'll consider the prospects further, with your indulgance, in my next blog.

As with life and art, politics is often an optical illusion.

Please note: frequently explaining our Ontario teacher acronyms is necessary
for my foreign readers, most notably in the US, Great Britain, Europe, Russia [!?] and Cuba.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps OECTA is politically astute to have made a deal in early summer, and then hope the members' sentiments will simmer without much said until General Secretary Marshall Jarvis and President Kevin O'Dwyer make the rounds of the local units this fall, showing in retrospect, how it was the best solution."

I can't disagree more. Settling in early July, after falsely assuring us there was no 'secret deal' was cowardly and downright deceitful of OECTA provincial. That they did not have the courage to face their members directly with the terms of the PDT deal tells the whole story. There will be many of us who will NEVER trust OECTA again and always question their self-serving motives. The OECTA 'deal' was primarily about one thing - preserving OECTA itself, and not representing its members.

Anonymous said...

We have already entered a realm of non-confidence in the OECTA Provincial Leadership. We were sold out. Deceit, dishonesty, and the trashing of teacher's/members rights under the OLRA and OECTA's own by-laws, policies, and procedures, can never, and will never, be acceptable. A good house cleaning is required at AGM 2013 if we are to have any chance of having members treated with respect and repair our relationships within the labour movement.

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!