Opening Statement



Wednesday, 26 September 2012

OECTA: Cracks in the Wall?

Today's news links continue in blog below this one.

Does OECTA's membership support the MOU? We don't know. For most of the summer holidays, the silence from OECTA Provincial, and our local units was deafening. The MOU was never put to a membership vote, angering many members who were stuck following the news story in the public media. The reason given by OECTA Provincial, for explaining why our membership wouldn't be allowed to ratify or refuse the MOU was:

Will I get a chance to vote on the provincial agreement? 
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 ProvincialExecutive, 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.

If you will recall, on July 5th, one week into our summer holidays, a surprise announcement was made. The OECTA PDT team had reached a MOU [Memo of Understanding] with the Ontario Liberal government MOE [Ministry of Education].Some very controversial terms were agreed upon, to say the least. They formed the OECTA Road map, that under Bill 115, all the teacher federations must now follow in locally negotiating their new contracts by December 31st of this year. These are the terms:  Memorandum of Understanding between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association


Here's a link for OECTA President Kevin O'Dwyer's letter  to our members which immediately followed July 5th: http://www.elemdp.com/files/ADM-12_13-003-MemberLtrJuly5-12%5B2%5D.pdf

comparison chart was also included in the home mailings. It compared the original PDT terms with the OECTA ones, in point form: http://www.elemdp.com/files/ComparisonChart%5B1%5D.pdf

The quote from above is included in the OECTA PDT Question and Answer sheet that came with the package: http://www.elemdp.com/files/QA_DealJuly6[1](1).pdf

A carefully worded OECTA PDT time line completed the package: http://tsuoecta.org/forms/TIMELINE%20OF%20EVENTS%20LEADING%20TO%20AGREEMENT%20WITH%20THE%20GOVERNMENT%20Prov%20CB%202012.pdf

Finally President O'Dwyer provided the following CBC interview explaining why he "had to agree" with the MOU. Afterwards little more was publicly said or posted on the members' login website for the rest of the summer. You can find the video at: http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=2254758095

Here's what happened while most of our members were away on holidays:

Our OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] Executive had an emergency summer meeting on July 9th to advise President Rene Jansen ahead of the OECTA [Council of Presidents] which met the next day. I told Rene that the MOU was unacceptable because it agreed to contract stripping. Our TSU members sick day banks would be unilaterally removed, and their retirement gratuities grandfathered. It was also uncertain what would become of our successful local LTD plan. As your representative, I simply could not agree to that for you.

At the July 10th OECTA COP [Council of Presidents] the vote in support of ratification for the MOU was 42 to 24. We later learnt that the Presidents were told the MOU would be ratified regardless of their vote. In our discussions, President Jansen told me he had voted against it. I asked if he was going to notify the membership of how he voted. This was sent out by email to our members later in the summer, as they began to return home from their summer holidays.

Meanwhile, a private member's letter was sent to OECTA Provincial requesting that a list of how all the unit presidents voted be released. It is my understanding that  letter was not replied to until President O'Dwyer's August 23 Toronto meeting at Roy Thompson Hall. [see below]

On August 8th the TCDSB [Toronto District catholic School Board] agreed to the terms of the MOU. Why? It removed our sick days and grandfathered our gratuity, their goal for the past few decades, that they were, of course, never able to get us to give up on our own. Read my August 8 blog for more details:
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2667249035907855270#editor/target=post;postID=2504041067942672608

Despite the plethora of public news, commentary and statements by the other teacher affiliates on the OECTA MOU, little more was heard from OECTA Provincial. However, the cracks in the wall started slowly to appear:

On August 8th OECTA Halton President Richard Brock became the first president to publicly announce his opposition to the MOU. For my full account see my blog "Brock Breaks OECTA Silence"http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/08/brock-breaks-oecta-cone-of-silence.html

By the way, a reader's "Comment" to my Richard Brock blog was posted there last week claiming a special OECTA Provincial letter has been sent since then to Brock's Halton Elementary schools about the MOU. I have been unable to confirm if that letter was sent, and if so what it said.

On August 23rd President O'Dwyer agreed to meet with our Toronto membership at Roy Thompson Hall, Present were Chief Negotiator David Church, as well as TSU and TECT [Toronto Catholic Elementary Teacher] Presidents Rene Jansen and Mario Bernardo. Unfortunately this Q+A with President O'Dwyer was scheduled while many of our teachers were still away or doing summer things at home. There seemed to be an inchoate anger to the members' questions as they began to ask about the deal. Jansen and Bernardo confirmed for the membership that they had voted against the MOU at the COP. O'Dwyer explained that the list of how the different unit presidents voted would not be released until the first weekend of November. That was because, he explained, the meeting had been held "in camera" and the minutes would not be approved until the next COP meeting. See my full blog report on the OECTA and the TSU/Tect meeting at:
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2667249035907855270#editor/target=post;postID=6647530925825533206

After Bill 115 legislated the OECTA Road Map into law, the other unwilling affiliates were forced to be bound by it in their local contract negotiations. It also rewrote substantial sections of the Ontario Labour Act to further change our Collective Bargaining terms, for the next two years, with a possible one year extension. Widespread ETFO, OSSTF and CUPE protests had flared up across the the province. Many of our members were shocked by our provincial president's seemingly indifferent letter to them, after basically remaining silent until after the Bill was passed. See the letter at: http://www.oecta.on.ca/wps/portal/!ut/p/c1/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3jDIBNLI2cfIwP30GBjAyNLdyNzc4sgQ3cvI_1wkA6zePdQJ9dQI0N_A3_jQDMDI49QC_

In  my September 17th "Vichy Mentality" blog, I noted that President O'Dwyer wouldn't be available for the Oct 1 to 3 TSU MOU information meetings to be held across the city. You can find the blog at: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2667249035907855270#editor/target=post;postID=1210404977623632002

Kevin finally agreed to come to answer your questions at St. Basil's for our Oct. 2nd TSU info meeting. As I wrote on my September 20th "OECTA Sudbury Letter" blog: 
Wonder if Kevin reads my blog? A lot of our members are feeling like they have been muzzled and boondoggled since the end of June. This is causing deep rifts and a very strong sense of betrayal by our union. This is a very, very, very bad situation for us all to be in. Blaming it on lies and misinformation is not an acceptable answer.
Many TSU members were eager to meet with him since they had missed the summer holiday meeting. However, President Jansen and Chief Negotiator David Church would still be on their own to answer questions during the other two dates of Oct. 1st and 2nd. David Church is an excellent person to answer technical details about the terms of the MOU. However, I doubt he can speak about the Provincial Executives political decision to approve the MOU, and of course Rene had voted against it, to no avail.

A private member's petition was circulated to tell Kevin he was wanted at the Oct.1 and 2nd meetings too. I was not involved in that petition, nor the private member's letter. I have not not heard anything more more about them.

Since we have returned to school, the cracks in the OECTA wall of silence slowly seem to be now opening more wider and wider. Finally they revealed a possible looming chasm just this week:

On Sept 24, Oecta Sudbury Elementary President Kent MacNeill released a media statement that his unit has filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Board against OECTA Provincial Executive "for failing in their duty of representation". He explained what the unit has all ready done to try to rectify the situation directly with OECTA Provincial, and their response. Kent also claimed COP was told Provincial would ratify the deal regardless of how they voted. My blog containing the letter can be found at: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2667249035907855270#editor/target=post;postID=7765285286762421598

On Sept 25 President MacNeill publicly spoke further on his unit's repudiation of the MOU. Provincial President O'Dwyer replied he "won't engage in a public debate on the matter." That news article can be found at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2012/09/25/sby-catholic-teachers-complaint.html

On Sept 26, the OECTA silence was shattered for all but the most muffed ears. In a news interview MacNeill adds that he expects Halton + Toronto will also be filing complaints against the OECTA Provincial deal. Sudbury had their extended medical benefits removed. The Toronto units lost their gratuity. Everyone had their accumulated sick days stripped away. Perhaps the sleeping giant of OECTA indifference is finally beginning to awake among all the clatter and din! See: http://www.680news.com/news/local/article/405576--ont-liberals-to-unveil-details-of-wage-freeze-legislation

On today's OECTA Website the following "updated" OECTA Q+A can be found posted. You will note the July Q+A is not publically posted, explaining about what happened July 5th. The "updated" one explains the advantages of the new agreement. You can read it to delineate the OECTA provincial state of mind at: http://www.oecta.on.ca/wps/portal/!ut/p/c1/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3jDIBNLI2cfIwP30GBjAyNLdyNzc4sgQ3cvI_1wkA6zePdQJ9dQ

OECTA Provincial's wall of silence has often seemed impenetrable throughout the summer. President O'Dwyer has been visiting the local units, but there has been little if any media or OECTA news coverage. Even yet, a bunker mentality still seems to exist. It will be very interesting to see what happens next! I look forward to reporting on President O'Dwyer's meeting with the OECTA TSU membership on Oct. 2. If you are a concerned TSU member it would be well worth your while to plan to attend too!

PS: If I missed any important info or links I will add them to this blog. If any dates are off I will corect those too.  In the meantime I beg your indulgence. I wanted to get this summary time line of events out to you asap!



OECTA Pravda: A bunker mentality?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

David, this in EXCELLENT overview of the events perpetrated by OECTA provincial 'leadership' on its membership up to the present time. Does OECTA membership support the MOU? In our unit, that is a definite NO. I want to thank you for providing this forum for OECTA members to express their displeasure and disagreement with the decisions made in the 'St. Clair Bunker'.

Anonymous said...

When there are only a dozen or so people making critical decisions, and there are thousands of people left in the dark who are professionally, financially, and emotionally impacted by said decisions, yes, there ARE going to be questions and strong reactions. There are not only cracks in OECTA, there are huge gaping faults and fissures in OECTA. Simply put, WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSULTED! Our leaders must answer for what they have done. Whatever results from this OECTA will never be the same. To many members, like myself and many of my colleagues, our TRUST in our leaders has irrevocably been broken.

Anonymous said...

Who would have thought that in today's world union leadership (provincial not local) would not allow their union members to vote? Until that problem is fixed OECTA will be tainted forever. Stand up against Bill 115 but don't forget who didn't let you vote on the MOU! They were supposed to be representing you. Any organization with that defective voting structure needs a house cleaning and its bylaws changed to ensure each member has a vote.

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