Opening Statement



Monday, 17 September 2012

A Vichy Mentality?

Sept 20 daily news links included at the end of this blog.......

As an OECTA member, the many protests when Bill 115 became law last week sure brought back lots of memories from when we were on the teacher front lines during the Harris Years. Being faced with far worse cut backs and threats to the very existence of our union seemed to bring out the best in us all. OECTA's commitment and participation were second to none during the province wide protest strike when all the teacher unions were all out on the streets for 2 weeks. Excellent communications, and organization helped us mobilize our members to rise to protect our jobs and our schools. It was really disheartening to sit back and do nothing now as the Liberal government and the Conservative opposition banded together to strip our contracts and ban key sections of the Ontario Labour Act. I still strongly feel the necessary urge to get out on the streets to protest now too!

We have all seen the MOU [Memo of Understanding] that was reached on July 5th when our members were off on their summer holidays. Unfortunately, many of our TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] members were unable to attend the OECTA Provincial presentation at Roy Thompson Hall in late August. Many would not even have been aware of it.

I have received many antedoctal reports from our TSU members who were far off in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Others were cottaging without internet or snailmail connections. When they got a phone call, or went into town to check their email, they were totally shocked. There were maybe 4 or 5 info pieces on the members only OECTA Provincial website, which was hardly enough for piece of mind, even if they did have a password to read them. I'm glad if this blogspot was of some help in letting you easily access the great debate and different informative points of view that raged across the province this summer.

As you may know, OECTA TSU will now be holding 3 meetings across the city to hear and answer your questions and concerns. They will be: Oct 1 at Senator O'Connor CSS, Oct 2 at St. Basil's and Oct 3 at Marshal McLuhan. Unfortunately we have not yet received info on whether our Provincial Executive members will be there. My understanding, at present, is that TSU President Rene Jansen will be there instead. I will enquire further at our next executive meeting. One appreciates Rene's effort but does this seem right to you? No, it doesn't seem right to me either, whatever the reason or excuse.

As I mentioned in my last blog, we now know both OECTA TSU and TECT's [Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers] retirement gratuities became little more than collateral damage when the MOU deal was reached. We were among the few OECTA units with retirement gratuities, which we have fought very hard to keep for many years. Our board couldn't believe it's good fortune! Neither unit president voted for the MOU when OECTA Provincial presented it to the local presidents at COP last July. And now? We are told it's a done deal. Basically, our hard  fought gains were a part of the trade off when OECTA provincial decided to gamble with a roll of the political dice on the MOU and the Ontario Liberal party.

No? Am I being disingenuous here? Go check the reader Comments below my blogs from this summer. Listen to your colleagues often deep sense of anger and betrayal around your staffroom table. If anything, I have been accused of going too easy on OECTA Provincial's decision to sign the MOU, as well as our union's lack of participation in the Bill 115 protests. I can accept that. My goal is not to indoctrinate or be pedantic. My blog attempts to provide links to all sorts of info from many different points of view so you can think and decide for yourself about the great controversy we face, even within our own ranks. Let me assure you though, it has not been easy to see provincial sit quietly on the sidelines, outside the forum of action and debate, unlike when we had a gun held to our heads by the Conservatives, and even the NDP in years past.

When OECTA says Bill 115 is unacceptable, that is not enough. I also have to question the letter we were sent by President O'Dwyer after Bill 115 passed into law this week. I posted it in a previous blog. Here is a link, in case you wish to refresh your memory: http://www.oecta.on.ca/wps/portal/!ut/p/c1/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3jDIBNLI2cfIwP30GBjAyNLdyNzc4sgQ3cvI_1wkA6zePdQJ9dQI0N_A3_jQDMDI49QC_

I am uncertain about the tone and underlying message of this letter. Is OECTA just glad Bill 115 is out of the way so we can start local collective bargaining using the MOU? Maybe I am wrong. I hope so. I realize Bill 115 has a time limit to it, that can be extended an extra year. But what a fine tool the Conservatives now have for dismantling us, if as the polls suggest, they were to win the next election. Any strategizing on OECTA's behalf, as with the Liberal party, could soon backfire terribly for us all. Our tried and true friend; the Ontario Labour Act, is now on "pause". Wouldn't it be a horror show if it were "turned off" or gutted and we were left with the Ontario Ministry's Employment Standards. Read these and weep: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/tools/srt/coverage_government_teachers.php

OECTA has developed a Vichy Mentality in the recent education crisis. Normally as a teacher union, we can either vigorously oppose or isolate ourselves when we feel powerless to change an unfriendly education policy being forced upon us. At the union level one may protest vigorously or even engage in civil disobedience, like during the Harris Years. Or you could argue you're just too busy at school to worry about this now, and don't want to get involved, like many of our members as of late. On the other hand, if you think Vichy, one will instead cooperate and modify our own policies to appease the perpetrator of our fears in hopes of saving our own butt, or at the least minimalizing the damage. Perhaps we argue a gun is being held to our head and we have no choice but to do so.

Perhaps I stretch the analogy too far. The original reference is to the Vichy Government during WW2, which tried to appease and cooperate with the German invaders as they occupied France. In our sense this does not include the same racial overtones. However, draw your own conclusions about how, or even if, there is a parallel to the OECTA "Road map" and Bill 115. Ouch! This hurts but it needs to be said.

Unfortunately for the Vichy, that didn't later stop the Germans from taking over all of France. The Vichy Mentality is a very risky and dangerous path to follow as the French later found out. Is it unlikely that this could happen to us? Or are we now safe with the Liberals after having signed the MOU? Let me take this one step further. Are you even sure the minority Liberal government will still be around a year from now? Unless they make an about face with us as teachers, which would seem highly unlikely, we had better now darn well hope the NDP insurgence continues to grow, as we sit uselessly on the sidelines of the great political struggle going on all around us as OECTA teachers.

It is very hard for me to say this. I have worked for many years with our leaders up at OECTA Provincial and usually hold them with the utmost of respect. I also worked many years with the Education Minister Laurel Broten when she even fully supported us in the Tory defeat, and fought alongside her to help keep them at bay for nearly ten years since. Still, it is wrong to sit in silence when we think something is wrong. It is our union. We would be in neglect of our ethical responsibilities when hard questions need to be asked, and we don't do so, for the good of us all.

OECTA's MOU agreement on July 5th, and indeed our silence and inaction during the passage of Bill 115, need to be directly addressed by our provincial executive with the membership now! Otherwise we face a great divide between those who support the policies and those who don't which will not just go away, even with the passage of time between now and our spring AGM [Annual General Meeting]. Hopefully we will see some real leadership. It sure would be helpful, in Toronto at least for a start, on Oct 1-3, since we have taken an especially hard blow with the grandfathering of our gratuities. It will be truly sad if our own unit president, who voted against the MOU at the Council of Presidents, is left to explain and answer for OECTA Provincial's actions come Oct 1-3. Let's hope Provincial will meet and communicate more directly and more thoroughly with our members in the days ahead. The window of opportunity for a honest, and constructive membership dialogue is closing fast!


At first Vichy France seemed like a good idea. Are we going the same way with the OECTA "Road Map", and our lack of involvement in the Bill 115 protests?



IN THE NEWS: THE LINKS-

Thursday Sept 20:

Yes! I corrected the dates. Guess you can tell  I haven't been around school much this week.

Fife + Drums in KW Record as new NDP MPP takes her seat at Queen's Park. She's also using Liz's old constituency office. Liz really could be a pretty good sort herself. See: http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/802818--fife-takes-her-seat-as-mpp

Student protests 4 teachers in Ottawa, at school and out front MGuinty's office. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/09/19/ottawa-students-protest-to-support-for-teachers.html

Student protests in York Public not 4 teachers, or so Yorkregion.com frames it. The student movement at Richard Green High School is really interesting, and the Twitter debates go both way, as the students flex their political wings. I am trying to refind the link. Great stuff, but be wary of this articles spin: http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1505506--angry-students-want-to-kill-bill-115

Who is using the students as pawns? Rabble.ca reprints article from Michael Laxer's blog. A well argued leftie spin. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/09/19/wdr-meet-teachers-protest.html

Boo hoo! Waterloo Public board can't hire their friends any more without needing to consider seniority too. Record writer D'Amato tries to frame the issue in a stinkerooni of a neo con reverse argument wherein she is worried that only white people will be hired now. Those big, bad unions! See: http://www.therecord.com/living/article/802858--liberal-law-erodes-public-school-trustees-influence

Half the meet the teacher nights are cancelled in Greater Essex Public. Board acknowledges they are strictly voluntary. Teachers do need to be willing to meet parents during the day, of course, and there is this thing called the telephone that the parents can use too. Too sarcastic? Maybe. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/09/19/wdr-meet-teachers-protest.html

Hudak's Conservatives sure are holding a lot of nomination meetings between the beer drinking and golfing events as of late. What is he thinking? Hold your nose and go see: http://www.ontariopc.com/events/

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives latest "thought provoker" is a video on CB as a fundamental right. A Dummy Guide? Ha. This group is pretty good. Go see: http://ontarionewswatch.com/onw-news.html?id=390

London Free Press Sun Media opinion piece by Brian McLoud sees McGuinty switching back to Premier Dad. He's trying to move the polling numbers back to a more popular + relatively Liberal centre while the NDP and Conservatives fight it out from the extremes. Quit credible regardless of whether McGuinty is successful or not in reversing his bad slide. See: http://www.lfpress.com/2012/09/20/polarized-politics-leave-room-for-liberals

Arf! Arf! Just 4 fun. Lassie the reading dog to the rescue in literacy fight! Makes 4 a good pet too. Actually, this is pretty interesting, though I just chuckled at first. See: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/literacy/raiseareader/Literacy+drive+goes+dogs/7265653/story.html

Lassie Come Home!!! The students need you!!!




Wednesday Sept 19: 

NDP lead provincial polls. Election would result in Tory minority government, a Liberal opposition, + party in 3rd place due to distribution of votes + seats. See: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/17/ndp-support-soars-while-liberals-plummets-poll

Toronto Star primer on the teacher dispute. A very general overview for folks who are just starting to wonder what it's all about. Doesn't mention CUPE or support staff. Thanks 4 pointing that out Wendy. See: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/1258722--what-s-going-on-at-school-a-primer-on-the-teacher-dispute

With local Windsor OSSTF winning a 95% strike vote, talk of teachers' "ramping up" job actions start to spread. ETFO strategy is to continue to try to negotiate new contract locally as if Bill 115 never happened. Local union goal is to "increase pressure" beyond no extracurriculars + McGuinty Mondays. The Windsor school board director is off to Toronto Monday to meet with MOE. Start reading the tea leaves dear reader! Look for these same sentiments across Ontario as local unit strike votes receive very similiar if not higher numbers of teacher support. http://www.windsorstar.com/business/Teachers+ramping+action/7263613/story.html

Former ETFO head David Clegg speculates on elementary teacher walkout as local strike vote tallies continue to pour in from across province. Voting should wrap up in early October and then.....? If Liberal cabinet intervenes.....? Ker Booooom! Expect mucho fireworks in weeks ahead. The wick has been lit! See: http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1504771--cabinet-intervention-could-mean-chaos-union

Belleville Intelligencer.ca writer group's Colin McKay discusses possibility of a huge general province wide strike in support of the teacher's fight for democracy in opposing Bill 115. Hmmm. I'm thinking back to the 90's..... Widespread labour support, rumoured to include rotating strikes at car factories and nuclear plants didn't materialize in time, as the all affiliate province wide teacher protest strike claiming "We won't back down" collapsed from within. At the time it was the largest in North American history. The province's teachers' were eyeball to eyeball with Tory Premier Mike Harris and, with all due respect, ETFO blinked. Many of us were at the massive Queen's Park Rally that day and can remember the terrible shock when it happened. Just as we were about to go over the top, OECTA-OTF President Marshall Jarvis looked out from behind back stage and waved his head no. Still, that was then and this is now. You figure it out. I'm only an ETFO member in spirit. Read: http://www.intelligencer.ca/2012/09/18/teachers-fighting-for-democracy

For a good place to start, but not end, studying the 1998 protest strike, see the Troublemaker's Website labour history account of strategy and events, which inexplicably doesn't refer to OECTA or ETFO, nor do I see reference to the "Common Front", as our teacher + labour umbrella group was called: http://www.troublemakershandbook.org/Text/Strikes/La%20Botz%20Days%20of%20Action.htm


Scott Stinson considers the yays + nays of the no extracurricular strategy, and with reservations decides nay, it will backfire on the teachers. See: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/19/scott-stinson-at-this-point-ontario-teacher-protests-are-only-hurting-students/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Tuesday Sept 18:

Heeeeeeeeere's Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim! Hudak's on a real roll now: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1258045--hudak-says-wage-freeze-just-beginning-of-austerity-blitz

He'd also like to fix arbitration so teachers don't win all the time, I 'd suppose even when we are usually right. Seig heil mein fuhrer!? Welcome to the second coming, with Lil' Mike: http://www.am980.ca/news/local/story.aspx?ID=1775497&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Windsor Mayor doesn't think Tim's idea would make arbitration any more fair: http://www.windsorstar.com/business/Ability+good+city/7257321/story.html

Dalton + Tim pretend they don't know each other. As if. See: https://twitter.com/jmdjenkins/status/248096230918463488/photo/1

If politics doesn't work out for Dalton maybe he could become a car salesman? See: http://daltonsdeals.tumblr.com/post/31775826830/this-is-why-teachers-are-withdrawing-from

Hudak gives up politics to drive a tractor! Guess what he'd be good at raking up? One can only wish! See: http://pics.lockerz.com/s/245579607

<<<Incorrectly included article on MPP pay raise has been removed. No huge increase.>>>

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo at the Runnymede CI student Dalton Monday walk out in Toronto: http://daltonsdeals.tumblr.com/post/31775826830/this-is-why-teachers-are-withdrawing-from

Rabble.ca writer Nora Loretto proposes a real radical list of ways to protest Bill 115 in her "Dear Teachers" letter: http://rabble.ca/news/2012/09/open-letter-ontario-teachers-dont-let-mcguinty-get-away#.UFiHnrKPWSo

Brampton students protest in support of teachers on McGuinty Monday. McGuinty appeals to teachers "better angels." Blech! Gag! You just stripped my CB rights and you want me to do what?!? http://www.windsorstar.com/business/Ability+good+city/7257321/story.html

Of course a lot of students disapprove too, with extracurricular sports and fundraising being the most recent focus of attention: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/1258164--fundraising-clubs-latest-casualty-of-teacher-law

ETFO now posts links to media coverage of protest events on their website. Wow. What a great idea! ;-)
Got to love their website. See: http://www.controlyourfuture.ca/etfo_news/province-wide-media-coverage-of-protest-actions/



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great blog. It's time to fight back. btw, David, where/when exactly did OECTA say that Bill 115 was 'unacceptable'?

David Chiarelli said...

You would have to check back through all my links over the past month for the exact quote. Short of this I know I have heard it directly through official lines, which I will need to keep confidential for now, as it might have been in camera. I'm hoping we hear more from Provincial soon, but it seems pretty late to jump on the bandwagon now.

Anonymous said...

David - heard a rumour teachers gave up vacation pay (4%) of salary years ago for.....the right to accumulate sick days. Did you ever hear this? If not - hey - why don't we get the 4% vacation pay?

P.S. You should run for OECTA President! You have provided more information than OECorruptTA

David Chiarelli said...

Ha ha thanks for the compliment. Yes, teachers don't get vacation pay or UIC during the summer as a result of an arbitration years ago. Up til now we have had the sick days. A decent trade off. We often made many similiar trade offs as a part of our Collective Bargaining settlements over the years, which lead to contracts that have now been stripped. The MOE has opened up a real can of worms. There will be unlimitied issues, like you mention. Do we get this or that back? Nothing is guaranteed and everything is up in the air. Quite simple put, nobody really knows, probably not even the MOE. The lawyers are going ot make a fortune over this!

Anonymous said...

Good Point. So....someone should put this bug into ETFO and OSSTF 's year. This could be the straw that broke the camel's back. Even part time workers & students at McDonalds get the vacation pay. Let's go after it!

David Chiarelli said...

Yes, and a lot more too. We have made so many trade offs over the years with our contracts. Now? Gone. Dunno if we can ever get it all back but the Supreme Court challenge to throw out the legislation should prove very interesting. Note, though, it could take years to get through the courts. Something else interesting came across my desk today. The MOE is demanding that any pay raises that went through be paid back retroactively! Even the grid increases which are not scheduled under Bill 115 until second semester! Ouch! What a mess! Dunno if they are going to just garnish it or what but I'm sure a whole lot of teachers are about to get a whole lot more angrier. Methinks the Libs have bitten off more than they are going to be able to chew!

Anonymous said...

Is OECTA even part of the Supreme Court challenge? The tone of the insipid letters from O'Dwyer (thanks for "communicating" with us all now, after the horses have left the barn) seems to be one that Bill 115 is a good thing because it stabilizes the situation for the next two years for OECTA members. Great deal boys! Everyone over at St. Clair should enjoy their retirement gratuities while those of us who got hosed should just suck it up, huh!

Anonymous said...

The day that OSSTF or ETFO ever listens to a thing OECTA has to say on ANY subject are dead and gone forever. OECTA, as a teacher association, is an absolute pariah. Face it - to public teachers, OECTA are pond scum. Going forward, I would expect the other unions to actively support the abolition of the Catholic system.

Anonymous said...

David,

I'm an ETFO member and public school teacher in Simcoe County. I check here daily to stay informed with what's happened. Just wanted to say that you are doing a tremendous job keeping myself and my collegues informed with what's going on around the province. Keep up the great work.

P.S. From the conversations I've had in the staff room, OECTA's reputation has suffered badly over this. We now look upon your leadership as traitors rather than as union brothers and peers - and for the life of us can't understand why OECTA would agree to such concessions before the 11th hour ever approached. And while we must acknowledge that the wound is still fresh, and cooler heads may still prevail, I can honestly say that support for one system has never been more vocal in our board. Hopefully OECTA gets its butt in gear and comes out against Bill 115. Otherwise, it will be a tough sell for us to put ourselves on the line and defend your membership against whatever comes next.

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