Opening Statement



Thursday, 22 November 2012

OECTA MOU? President O'Dwyer's Reply!


Current updated news links + my other recent blog follow below.

The following letter from OECTA President Kevin O'Dwyer has been made publicly available through our unit's TSU Highlights news magazine. It is in response to OECTA TSU member John Cafferky's open letter to Kevin that was posted in Highlights and on my site October 22 under the  title "None Dare Call It Treason". You can find it at:

http://tsu3rdvp.blogspot.ca/2012/10/oecta-none-dare-call-it-betrayal.html

I believe it is only fair, due to the great interest in John's article and the claims that he has made, in perfectly good faith, that I also post Kevin's response for your consideration, so he too can be heard. It is a lengthy letter. I am posting it as is, without any additional spacing other than a few paragraph separations I have made so it will be easier for you to read online. None of the language or words were changed or altered in any respect.

President O'Dwyer has responded in great length and detail. I will need some time to consider it further before I provide a commentary. Mr. Cafferky is of course most welcome to reply. There is also a Comment button at the bottom of this blog should you wish too contribute to the discussion.

TSU Highlights has again provided a top notch journalistic news isssue that presents very interesting and insightful views on many different aspects of the OECTA MOU, especially as they will affect our unit members. Others will find a lot of valuable insights and information there too. You can read Highlights online at: 

http://tsuoecta.org/forms/2012.11.08.NovemberHighlights%20sabina%20R1.pdf

Here is OECTA President Kevin O'Dwyers letter in full:

Kevin O’Dwyer

A response to John Cafferky’s open letter re: the OECTA Memorandum of Understanding

By: Kevin O’Dwyer,
 OECTA President

It is important that OECTA members and elected officials deal with the facts, rather than a romantic perception of the situation as illustrated in Mr. Cafferky’s letter. The OECTA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was not established by a single person or entity – or Big Brother as Mr. Cafferky suggests. Instead, the 11-member Provincial Executive (PE) and the 65-member Council of Presidents (COP) – both of which represent the membership – supported the establishment of an 11-person provincial bargaining team to negotiate with the government and/or the Catholic school board representatives as far back as December 2011. The bargaining team appointed had a combined 250 years of collective-bargaining experience.

Throughout this round of negotiations, consultation occurred with the PE and COP; the COP is comprised of Unit Presidents, OTBU Presidents, OECTA’s OTF Governors and Provincial Committee Chairs. Furthermore, the 2012 provincial negotiations followed the exact same process used in both the 2004 and 2008 rounds of negotiations. This process was established by the PE and the COP and was again endorsed by the COP in preparation for each round of provincial negotiations, including this one. Not a single complaint was filed against this process in either the 2004 or 2008 negotiations, nor was any complaint raised when this process was endorsed in 2011.

As per the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the OECTA Provincial Executive is the bargaining agent. As such, the PE sought endorsement of the COP to engage in the 2011-2012 PDT process on December 14, 2011. A bargaining team appointed consistent with the December 14, 2011 resolutions represented OECTA in these negotiations.

Within OECTA, the bargaining team reported to the PE during the regularly scheduled monthly meetings as well as on additional conference calls held on a near weekly basis. The COP was informed with regular email updates and in person at the regularly scheduled COP meetings of February and June, at four additional Special COP meetings, and at an information session during the Beginning Teachers’ Conference. The special COP meeting of June 21, 2012 provided explicit details regarding the status of the bargaining situation. All members of the COP received details at this meeting and had opportunity to discuss and provide input as well as at all other aforementioned meetings.

It is disingenuous to articulate a lack of consultation or process followed in this round of negotiations, but not in the previous two. Prior to proclaiming his embarrassment of the OECTA MoU, it is important that Mr. Cafferky and all members accurately understanding the details of the MoU and the political-economic environment in which the MoU was achieved.

The critical challenge in this round of negotiations was to protect local collective agreements from aggressive employers seeking to quench their budgetary thirsts by unilaterally changing the terms and conditions through the conciliation process, particularly within the fiscal confines of this round of negotiations. It was clear from the outset that we needed to be creative in order to stall school-board efforts, especially in areas like the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board, London District Catholic District School Board and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

In this round of negotiations, we were dealing with government parameters, not those of our employer. The government, unlike our employers, has the right to impose legislative changes to collective agreements based on their perceived fiscal needs. This is consistent with the BC Health Care case, which provides the government a three-tiered test as prescribed by the Supreme Court of Canada. This means that if the government can show genuine financial duress (in the case of Ontario, it is a $16 billion deficit), followed by a consultation period (which was February 2012 to August 31, 2012), and illustrate that this financial problem is for a defined period of time (in this case, the restraint period is two years – the duration of the collective agreement).In 2012, the reality was that there was no money on the table. 

In April of this year – with the support of the NDP and in light of the Drummond Report on the Commission on Reform of Ontario’s Public Services – the provincial government passed a budget that would only fund their original parameters. These original parameters included the elimination of banked sick days, a decrease in sick days from 20 to 6 followed by 4 unpaid days and then a short-term sick-leave plan that would only recover 66.6% of salary for approved medical illness, wage freeze, no movement on the grid for those who are increment eligible, and interest in restructuring the entire grid.

These parameters were presented to the entire teaching sector, not just OECTA. It was clear that the government had both public and political support to apply the fiscal restraints presented in the original parameters. In fact, the Drummond Report stipulated a much harsher reality for the teaching sector as well as other public-services employees. Rather than walking away from the bargaining table and joining a feign solidarity while awaiting the imposition of the government’s original parameters, OECTA remained at the bargaining table to negotiate a fair and reasonable alternative that best meets the needs of all members.

First and foremost, OECTA did not “bargain away” the accumulation of sick days or banked sick days. The government deemed this to be an unfunded liability, which they were determined to eliminate for the entire teaching sector via legislation. In fact, OECTA mitigated the government’s proposal and was able to increase the number of sick days from 6 to 10 per year followed by a short-term sick leave plan at 90% of salary for up to 120 days per year.

In effect, every teacher – regardless of number of years teaching – will now be able to access up to 10 sick days at 100% followed by 120 sick days at 90% per year for an approved medical illness. This is a far greater gain than the number of sick days accrued by various members in the event of a long-term illness. It also protects all teachers, whereas accumulated sick days were only available to more experienced teachers under previous agreements. Chronic illness, like cancer, is not determined by the number of banked sick days a teacher does or does not have. Cancer is not 220 days long for a senior teacher, but only 20 days long for a more junior teacher. With this new agreement, salary replacement will be available for all members both equally and annually.

Assisting increment eligible teachers was a key interest of the PE and the COP. In 1993-1996, members on grid were frozen for four years; we had to buy back their position on grid and could not recoup any lost salary. The effect of this situation was devastating carrying long-term impact for any teacher on grid at the time. In 1997, positions on grid were bought back through the local bargaining process by various units thereby allowing members to recover their appropriate position on the grid. In order to buy back these positions, both teachers on and off grid took a modest wage increase in order to ensure that it did not take newer members an additional four years to move through the grid.

The government wanted to repeat this scenario and once again freeze increments, OECTA refused. There is no way that the Association could repeat this history. In order to keep the salary grid intact, we have agreed to three unpaid days in year two of this agreement. Teachers do not attend work on these days so, in effect, you will not be working let alone working for free. The purpose of these three unpaid days is to assist younger teachers in achieving their movement along the grid, including increments.

Mr. Cafferky is inaccurate when he states that “the third day pays our support colleagues to report for work on the days we stay home”. The three unpaid days are strictly to ensure our members on grid have the opportunity to move forward on the grid based on experience and qualification.

The MoU also protects pension contributions through continued contributions during the sick leave and the three unpaid days in year-two of the agreement. Contributions will be made as though you worked and were paid according to your grid placement. There will be no negative effect on teachers’ pensions. For the next two years, there will not be a wage increase for any teacher – whether on grid or not –whether a member of OECTA or not. This comes following a 24% wage increase over the course of the past three rounds of negotiations.

Although OECTA members were not responsible for the $16 billion provincial deficit, we recognize our role and contribution as citizens of this province. In place of a wage increase, the bargaining team was able to negotiate significant non-monetary improvements for all teachers, including a fair-hiring policy that will ensure positions are made available to individuals based on seniority and qualifications, as well as control over diagnostic assessment and evaluation in terms of frequency and timing.

Mr. Cafferky believes that this Association, which represents a collective of members ranging from elementary to secondary to occasional teachers from all areas of this province, would decidedly pick “winners” and “losers” amongst our members as we entered this round – or any round – of negotiations. This assumption is inaccurate and offensive to our colleagues and the membership that we represent. As members of OECTA, we are part of a collective and this means protecting all members equally to the best of our ability. In light of the political-economic realities of this round of negotiations, OECTA has and will continue to achieve this.

It is also absolutely inaccurate to accuse OECTA of breaking ranks with its affiliates. From the outset of this round of negotiations, OSSTF, AEFO and OECTA were of the same perspective: to negotiate centrally with the government/trustees. Only ETFO refused to join the provincial negotiations altogether as a result of their 2% salary shortfall in the previous round of negotiations.

There was no solidarity in this round of bargaining and no breaking rank with our teacher affiliates. OSSTF, AEFO, CUPE and OECTA were all actively pursuing a negotiated settlement. In fact, there was no solidarity in the 2008 round of bargaining and in 2004, ETFO negotiated a deal independent of the other affiliates, including OECTA. Members of TSU will recall the 1998 “lock-out” as will five other areas of the province. There was no solidarity from any other affiliate during these job actions. The closest we ever got to solidarity was in 1997 following the social contract years; we had a common purpose, common process and common outcomes until two affiliates at the time (now combined to form one: ETFO) left the protest and returned to the classroom.

For years salaries of our members lagged behind the co-terminus boards as the public trustees had accessed to a greater industrial based-taxation. There was no solidarity for the issue of equal-pay for equal-work. Each affiliate works to represent its members. The facts reveal a much different series of events than a simple call for solidarity, which remains a convenient conversation avoiding the realities of not only this round of bargaining, but previous ones as well.

Since the signing of the OECTA MOU on July 5, I have had the opportunity to meet with nearly every local membership in the province, including the members of TSU on three separate occasions. The overall response received from the various members across the province has been a genuinely positive and supportive one. While members are upset with the government’s elimination of gratuities (in those areas that still had gratuity) and banked sick days, OECTA members – for the most part – recognize the value of mitigating the government’s original parameters.

It is clear that members have expressed that they want to provide input on this process. I have been meeting with the various local presidents across the province to discuss process and affiliated concerns in preparation for the next round of negotiations. A Task Force has been struck to discuss and provide recommendations to AGM 2013 regarding provincial bargaining. In the meantime and for the duration of this agreement, OECTA has successfully mitigated the government’s original parameters, kept the grid in tact, achieved two key non-monetary issues and negotiated a fair and reasonable settlement for all members in light of political-economic realities.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

O'Dwyer's disdain for OECTA members continues. No mention of no vote or an explanation why he was absent for the Mou vote? Will he ever get it?

Anonymous said...

He is a Neo-Liberal through and through. Notice how he goes out of this way in not only this letter but the other most recent letter to the membership to try to tag the NDP name in to the Liberal (whom he fails to name) government's budget. This guy is in bed with McGuinty, Duncan, Drummond and will hop in to bed with Kennedy, Wynne or Pupatello at the fist chance he gets. Kevin O'Dwyer will sell out teachers to protect his Liberal friends. Do not reelect this man. Who knows maybe he will run as a Liberal MPP. I hear they are hiring and his brand of misinformation spreading politics is compatible with there's.

Anonymous said...

Here is my letter.

Dear OECTA President,

What is your position on Bill 115? What is your position regarding Liberal MPPs who voted in favour of the bill? Who speaks for children? Who speaks for teachers? Who speaks for democracy?

Why are you silent?

In solidarity?

A teacher

angryoectateacherOTTAWA said...

Mr. O'Dwyer.
You are so removed from reality! Stubborn much? Shame and double shame! You play the soundtrack of Charlie Brown, wah, wah, wah, so well

'69 bug guy said...

Mr. O'Dwyer,

Unfortunately your agreement with the OLP has forever tagged your members with the acronym "OECTA MoU". Not a popular phrase amongst OSSTF, CUPE and ETFO for a long time to come.

No matter what deals get ratified in the upcoming weeks by Public School teachers, the OECTA MoU will have sent us all to the ballot box in handcuffs.

If you are lucky maybe Section P, entitled ‘Transferability of Other Agreements’, of the OECTA MoU will be the one good thing your members will cling to. Just maybe our leaders will be able to meander their way through the OECTA MoU and come out the other side with something positive. According to your comments in paragraph four of your letter to OECTA members dated Nov 20, 2012, it seems that you are counting on Section P to calm your members frustration surrounding the OECTA MoU.


Anonymous said...

O'Dwyer's friendliness to the Liberals who took away my sick days is dangerous. I notice you put None Dare Call It Treason...a slip?...NO WAY! This guy is dangerous to OECTA members...deny your vote on the MOU...send the Provincial lawyers after any dissent (look out Richard Brock)...and then start a task force..bet the task force never allows a rank and file OECTA member the right to cast a direct vote on those running for Provincial OECTA President. Even his first sentence in his reply... "romantic perception"...such arrogance. Time to retire like McGuinty did! An OECTA member without a vote is an OECTA member without protection! Return the power back to members and fix this union! Adopt the Bill of Rights!

Anonymous said...

It was so completely obvious from the very moment the OECTA MOU was announced that the agreement was never reached because PE thought it was, “in the best interest of our members”. There was absolutely no pressure to sign the MOU a few days into the summer.
What was completely obvious was that members of the PE were motivated enough to sign for “some” reason. What could it be? What motivates people? Fear and greed motivate people! How about amalgamation? How about some other sweet promise that the gov’t will fulfill in the future? Who knows what it actually was, but make no mistake about it, it was not about the “members’ best interests”.
Now, OSSTF and ETFO have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and time trying to salvage something out of this mess that has been created. If the leaked details of the first few signed agreements that OSSTF has reached are correct, it looks like the agreements are very similar to the OECTA MOU (we’ve all lost now). Once we all agree to this, we will likely never recover these losses through collective bargaining again. Young teachers you will lose in the range of 100K+ all with one swipe of pen. Not to mention the millions other unions will invest in fighting bill 115 all the way to the supreme court. Is OECTA going to be contributing to the legal bill that other unions will incur in order to fight for educators’ democratic rights? Or will OECTA just be satisfied sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else fighting, and then reaping the benefits of the outcome?

Anonymous said...

The only thing 'romantic' about this situation is the relationship between OECTA Provincial and the Ontario Liberal Party.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Dwyer,

If this is the best deal you can get, why not allow the 45,000 members of OECTA that will be directly affected by this deal vote on it? What are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

As an ETFO member I am disgusted at the deal OECTA has accepted. The end game for the government in all of this is what Wiconsin teachers were handed. Check out salary grids in that state. I have to say that I am even more disgusted with the OECTA memborship who ratified deals that will cost young teachers 100K or more going forward. You say you didn't have a vote. You did. Vote no on ratification. At least that might have shown that you wear some big boy pants. You could have helped the cause with a delay in signing contracts. I'll gladly give up the $500.00 for another strike day. You guys keep saying your prayers, have your church masses. That'll help. A poster said it best; it was fear or greed that motivated things. With teachers it certainly wasn't greed. What are you afraid of? Contradicting Catholic Doctrine?

David Chiarelli said...

This is a dissident site. I think most of our OECTA members here would agree with a lot of what you say. Read further though, the comments the blogs, and I think you will understand our predicament more. None Dare Call it Betrayal 2 might be a good blog to start with. Thanks for joining us here and providing your input. In solidarity!

Anonymous said...

O'Dwyer is dillusional when he states: "The overall response received from the various members across the province has been a genuinely positive and supportive one" ....

David Chiarelli said...

I think so too. It gets worse. They are sticking to the story at provincial. Even locally. "6.2" of the "10%" of our TSU members who voted gets reported as "62%" of the membership "appoving" the new contract! I've been told at OECTA TSU that I am "distorting the facts" by reporting this discrepancy in my blog!!! Seems everybody is drinking the red kool-aid at OECTA these days.

Furthermore the OECTA party line is that it is okay between us and ETFO and OSSTF. Maybe the leaderships have some deal cooked up but as far as I can tell ETFO and OSSTF members are royally pissed. I get told off and PE shakes their head in disbelief when I argue otherwise. It's like that old sci-fi movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". I've worked for 10 year with a lot of these people and I don't even know who they are anymore.

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