Opening Statement



Friday, 26 October 2012

OECTA's Bad Boy Brock Strikes Again!

Scroll down my blog column for today's news links!

It's true! The MOU + Bill 115 protest is alive and well in the OECTA Halton Elementary Unit! Last Monday, President Brocks membership turned up in force at the OSSTF, ETFO and CUPE rally outside Liberal MPPs Kevin Flynn Oakville office. Finally, our blue OECTA flags fluttered proudly in the wind, amongst the sea of affiliates colours! Bravo!


Inside Halton reports a lively crowd of several hundred educators gathered to chant"Hey Ho! Hey Ho! Bill 115 has got to go!" The protest was the second of an ongoing series started a few few weeks ago outside Flynns office. As the Insider notes, our Catholic teachers are now represented among the growing protest ranks there too.*

From the podium, ETFO President Sam Hammond personally thanked the OECTA members for attending, and noted that, "The next time [Education Minister] Laurel Broten says 55,000 teachers supported the MOU, here's your proof that's not true."



Indeed, the OECTA Halton Elementary recent voted 96.3% in favour of rejecting the MOU. The numbers are remarkably similar to the votes held by OSSTF and ETFO across the province. OECTA York recently conducted a similarly successful vote. Unfortunately these stories are not prominent in the mainstream news. Likewise OECTA Haltons attendance at the protest rally was not noted in the Insider headline nor central to the main thrust of the article. Nonetheless the ever irascible Mr. Brock is quoted as explaining on behalf of the Halton membership that;"We feel that the whole MOU and MOU process is unconstitutional within OECTA in terms of our own handbook and bylaws. And in terms of Bill 115, it too is unconstitutional in terms of its grab on local agreements."

Brock adds, "They totally snatched away items out of our local agreements that we've bargained long and hard for."

Furthermore, Brock continues, "A number of items that were clearly removed from our local agreements were items that I personally and my members in general have fought very hard to get into our agreement and have nothing to do even with the governments initial PDT proposal back in February.



As noted in one of my recent "School Edition" blogs**, OECTA Halton currently has a OLB [Ontario Labour Board] complaint pending against OECTA Provincial for "Duty of Fair Representation", concerning the provincial executives approved of the OECTA MOU last July 5th. So far, no legal assistance or funding has been provided by provincial to help pay for the units legal costs in writing and pursuing the complaint. A similar situation exists with our Sudbury elementary unit. For these smaller OECTA units a great if not impossible financial burden therefore exists in pursuing their "Duty of Fair Representation" concerns, since they do not have access to provincials large legal budget which is provided by our membership dues from across the province.

Legal arguments over the OECTA constitution will probably centre on the significance of what is and what is not included in our bylaws. Uncertainty seems to exist over whether the latter allowed the provincial executive to approve the July 5th MOU without having to consult the COP [Council of Presidents] *** or hold a general membership vote. Provincial found itself in a new situation during this years PDT talks with the MOE [Ministry of Education], for which there was no apparent precedent.  Faced with the provincial ultimatum OECTA broke ranks from the other teacher unions to sign a side deal which our negotiating team had developed with the MOE.  In it's defence provincial argues it was a necessary attempt to mitigate the MOE's originally even harsher terms. The agreement then became the so called "OECTA Roadmap" which is now being imposed on all the teacher unions across the province via controversial Bill 115.

More legal challenges can be possibly expected by other OECTA units in the weeks ahead, especially some of the more larger ones. It has been an arduous process to make sure an OLB complaint is based upon strong legal arguments and followed through accordingly, even for those units who can afford the legal fees. A call to the OLB will also reveal that at least one other group, perhaps best identified as the cryptic "Metro Six" have had their private member case added with Haltons by the OLB.

With a virtual OECTA news black out in place much of the opposition across the province remains detached from and uninformed of the significant large pockets of OECTA dissent elsewhere among our units. The OECTA Halton strike vote, like Yorks, is not legally binding because OECTA provincial unilaterally approved the MOU agreement. However, the strike votes certainly show that all is not well among the OECTA units with the MOU deal as provincial insists. The votes might also prove significant for the units should the courts eventually decide that Bill 115 is unconstitutional.



Out of approximately 1200 members in the Halton elementary unit, 1062 voted. 36 or 3.4% approved of the MOU. 1023 or 96.3% disapproved. A further 3 or 0.3% of the members were undecided. OECTA's Brian Macdonald and Bob Boyle assisted in conducting the in school vote, with the staff reps arranging the drop off and pick up of the ballot boxes at the unit schools.

Details of the strike vote results were independently sent from the Halton membership to my blog. The members are particularly well versed in all aspects of the MOU debate. All correspondence from the provincial office has been publicly shared with the membership by President Brock, along with his own responses, for transparency purposes. He has so far apparently provided the members with over a dozen of his own communiques as follow up. Also provincial has been communicating directly to the members with at least one three page letter that was distributed to every school through their own office, rather than through the local unit president.

Earlier this month the membership was informed by Richard that the OLB had responded to the complaint on October 12th. OECTA Halton Elementary is now meeting with legal counsel at their own expense as they prepare for the next stage of the process.

At a recent OECTA Unit Presidents meeting an argument broke out between the podium and the floor over the issue of "insubordination". The discussion was about the OECTA PDT process resulting in the provincially approved MOU, and the provincial offices actions since. This was not in camera. School Edition has also learnt that complaints were also made against this blog. The TSU President clarified that it does not officially represent OECTA or TSU. That has always been clearly stated in the masthead of and in my various blogs. The information provided to my readers comes from all ready publicly available sources. I might also add that if enough information was being provided by provincial to our membership, I wouldn't have so many readers. Anyway, despite this side bar discussion, one does not sense that the original claim of "insubordination" was directed towards Mr Brock or others who have expressed concerns over the OECTA MOU, in the many questions of authority and representation that were raised.

It is also interesting to note that both the OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] and TECT [Toronto Elementary] unit presidents voted against the MOU at the July COP meeting. There are even estimates that over 50% of the membership across the province was represented by the presidents who opposed the MOU. At any rate the COP vote is a moot point. It came after the MOU had been approved. As we have since learnt the presidents would've voted knowing that opposing OECTA provincials decision would not change the status quo. It will be interesting to see which other units both large and small follow President Richard "Bad Boy" Brocks vocal lead in filing complaints during the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, the silence from provincial and our different separated units is deafening. Many thanks to President Brock for standing up to be counted at the Halton protest last Monday. I'm sure that many of us are pleased, as John Cafferky**** suggested in his recent guest blog, that OECTA Halton stood proudly shoulder to shoulder with OSSTF, ETFO, CUPE in no uncertain terms, as they continue to resist in the struggle to preserve public service and our common good.

FOR FURTHER READING:

The complete text of the "Insider" article can be found at: http://www.insidehalton.com/community/education/article/1523635--bill-115-has-to-go-halton-teachers  *

John Cafferky's blog as referenced can be found at: http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/10/oecta-none-dare-call-it-betrayal.html ****

These previous blogs are also about the struggle of our brothers and sisters at OECTA Halton Elementary:

For info on Halton's OLB complaint see: http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/10/oecta-halton-elementary-duty-of-fair.html **

For an overview of the OECTA situation since July 5th see: http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/09/oecta-cracks-in-wall.html

For an overview of the July 10 OECTA COP vote see: http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/07/oecta-pdt-deal-ratified-by-cop.html ***

For President Brocks previous statements and activities after July 5th see: http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/08/brock-breaks-oecta-cone-of-silence.html


More photos of the rally at: http://www.haltonoecta.com/pictures1213/educational_rally.htm

Even more at:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151249235785660.515770.195089465659&type=3&l=29942c0106

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Richard Brock for OECTA Provincial President. Somebody please restore honour to this union and get out from the rectum of the Liberals.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud to be a member of Halton OECTA's Elementary Unit!

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