Opening Statement



Monday, 22 October 2012

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal!



OECTA=Members?

A Personal Response to the Memorandum of Understanding

[The following article was first published in our OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] Highlights Newsletter. It was submitted by our colleague Mr. John Cafferky at Pope John Paul Secondary School. John is a staunch Catholic teacher activist who I've had the pleasure to work with on numerous occasions, including during the Tory 2003 election defeat. I believe he very eloquently explains how many of us feel, with no punches spared. I asked John if I could publish his article to share with you. I have waited until now out of my respect for the excellent Vol.13/ Issue 1 issue of Highlights, which was distributed to our unit members last week.

Please note OECTA President O'Dwyer was invited to submit a response. I saw no such response in Highlights. He is also invited to provide a response to the article here as well, should he so please.]

Here is John's article:

None Dare Call it Betrayal

During the summer, I watched President O’Dwyer on TV tell the public that OECTA had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with the Government. He had committed me to a new contract without informing me of the details or giving me a chance to approve or disapprove.  Apparently, Big Brother knows best. I am indignant that OECTA left me out of the decision process on my own contract. President O’Dwyer’s letters to the members failed to explain this lack of consultation, and they had all the soothing effect of vigorously applied carbolic acid to a first-degree burn. For me, the lack of consultation feels like a lash of contempt from some distant overlords at OECTA, overlords who do not fear their electorate because the serfs in the classrooms do not vote for them directly.

The MoU makes me nervous. It is an agreement by which the union decided the winners and losers in the contract. Once we depart from the principle of negotiating for the collective whole, how do we balance the disparate demands (usually legitimate) of each constituency? Picking winners and losers without setting out clear guidelines beforehand has the potential to transform our traditional collective bargaining into divisive factional bargaining, where getting a seat at the negotiating table becomes an imperative for each faction.

I worry that the MoU will fatally undermine our cohesion at the school level. The principle enshrined in the agreement is that the A3/A4 max teachers have to take a wage cut to pay for movement on the grid. What happens in two years time if the economy has not improved? OECTA has set a precedent but it has failed to lay down the guidelines on how to interpret that precedent. This year’s agreement raises the expectations of teachers on the grid to move up, but how will their A3/A4 max colleagues react to another cut? Without clear guidance from the OECTA leadership we risk seeing serious and divisive disputes in the schools. If the leadership can impose the contract, they have a duty to articulate its principles.

I worry about the public’s perception of OECTA’s commitment to professionalism. The MoU eliminates three PD days, transforming them into three unpaid days at home. If three PD days can be discarded so cavalierly, why not get rid of all PD days? The decisions made in the MoU have sent a signal regarding our attitude to PD, and we will have a tough job persuading the public that PD matters. Perhaps we have snatched a Faustian deal of short term gain for long term pain.



Parts of the MoU leave me bewildered. Our leadership has prescribed that we take three unpaid days next year. Two of those days pay for the grid movement of our colleagues, but the third day pays our support colleagues to report for work on the days we stay home. Protecting the income of lower paid support colleagues is a generous idea, one that I can applaud. However, we are beset by a lack of clarity about the principle involved.  OECTA appears to have committed to an open-ended blank cheque, and that leaves me nervous that we have raised expectations far beyond our practical ability to pay. We need clarity (and assent) on how far we intend to take this generous principle.

Looking at things in a broader context, I worry that the MoU has placed a bull’s eye on the A3/A4 max teachers. A wage freeze is a de facto wage cut by the amount of inflation, but three days lost salary is a nominal wage cut, and nominal cuts offer rich possibilities for a cash-strapped, voracious government. If the government needs to find cuts in education, the precedent of cutting nominal salary in OECTA’s MoU has identified a target for them, and this threat affects every teacher. Conceding a nominal cut in salary has a huge downside risk but hardly any upside reward—OECTA has made an unwise concession that carries significant long term risks.

Signing away the accumulated sick days was a personal betrayal by my union. In good faith, I worked under several contracts accumulating sick days, and with the stroke of their pen, my union decrees that I have accumulated nothing. Apparently, some terms in the contracts are less real than others. How far does this plasticity go? OECTA and the government have set the precedent that anything accumulated under previous contracts can be dissolved. Are my pension rights safe? The government is desperate for money, and the pension liability is a large plum for a government bean counter. The ease with which OECTA threw away my sick days leaves me with no confidence that they will defend my pension rights, especially if I belong to the wrong faction of the union.

OECTA’s handling of the negotiations has embarrassed me. Our leaders chose to split ranks with the public school unions, undermining the solidarity of all teachers—and they did not even get the going rate of thirty pieces of silver. The split leaves OECTA on the sidelines as public school teachers engage in the first skirmish of a long campaign to preserve public service and the public good. Their fight is mine, and I would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with my public school colleagues—not being able to do so leaves me ashamed.

Sincerely,

John Cafferky,

Teacher Blessed Pope John Paul II C. S. S. 

Read John's books:

You might also be interested in John's Irish historical study, Scandal + Betrayal: Shackleton + The Irish Crown Jewels. See: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1498142.Scandal_Betrayal


He has also written a well respected theological treatise. For more info on Evolution's Hand: Searching for the Creator in Contemporary Science see: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5550124-evolution-s-hand

Read Highlights!

This month's OECTA TSU Highlights contains a wealth of challenging articles on the OECTA MOU + Bill 115! For the online link visit: http://tsuoecta.org/newsletter.php


NEWS LINKS REGULARLY UPDATED BELOW.............

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great blog! Thank you, John Cafferky!

Anonymous said...

I soooooooo wish, more OECTA local bargaining units would join Halton in their protests and actions! Congratulations John on this great blog.

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Have you read october's OECTA Agenda paper? What a bad joke! The whole thing is an ad for how well O'Dwyer did for members with the MOU. Not one word about any opposition. Even James Ryan is quoted in favour of it? Such propaganda and we pay for it!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Here is our OECTA provincial political action team this morning on Twitter defending Liberals on prorogation: "Cheryl Fullerton ‏@CherylFull
Have spent lots of time at Queen's Park over past 10 yrs. Never as dysfunctional as this session Hard 2 B outraged over prorogation"

It would appear OECTA is as shameless as McGuinty.

Anonymous said...

How do we get rid of such harmful leadership?

Anonymous said...

You cannot get rid of leadership (Catholic). Check out the church hierarchy. No one paid the price for abuse that was distributed/ moved around the diocese. In church we were told to forgive/ bury it till it goes away. In Rome whistleblowing about an illegal activity got a butler a jail term. Turn a blind eye to wrong doings is the Catholic way. Disgusting. It wouldn't surprise me if ratification votes were tampered with.

David Chiarelli said...

OECTA has totally bought into the God the Father heirarchical decision making model since July 5th. You can tell most obviously by the way it treats our members. IMHO that's exactly what we need our union to fight but instead we have been betrayed.

Anonymous said...

As time passes I become angrier with OECTA leadership and the MOU. O'Dwyer and his team have tried to spin this to defend their betrayal. However, there is NO justification for contract stripping, anytime, ever! Bottom line this is a violation of the union's purpose which is to protect the membership. Anyone who supports the MOU demonstrates a lack of understanding of this fundamental reality or is motivated by self interest (e.g., protect provincial staff position, gain provincial staff positions). Indeed it would be interesting to discuss who lost positions because they were opposed to the MOU and who gained positions because they supported O'Dwyer. A case in point would be Bob Boyle loosing his position as a speaker after 41 years because he helped file a complaint to the OLRB with regard to the MOU. Somewhat vindictive isn't it...Marshall?...Kevin?
OECTA Provincial needs a complete change. I hope the delegates at the AGM elect an executive which understands the purpose of the organization, and is capable of acting with integrity. They must also commit to building fences with the other affiliates who have been betrayed.
If I were an AGM delegate, James Ryan would have my vote! I urge the delegates to look at the facts and not the spin and rumours being circulated by those who are responsible for this unprecedented betrayal and lack of leadership.

David Chiarelli said...

OECTA is in more trouble than we might be able to handle. If the elections do not lead to a real change at OECTA AGM 2013 then I'd say we are beat 4 sure, if it's not too late all ready. I'm glad James + Chris responded to my blog interviews 4 our rank + file members.As of today nobody else has replied. Speaks volumes. Check my March posts.

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!