Opening Statement



Wednesday, 26 December 2012

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal 2

Okay! Christmas is over. That was nice. Now there's no more need to don your gay apparel and sing about being jolly, or Jingle Bells. Whatever. Its back to our business at hand. We continue with another in a series of letters ...



We continue with the public letter debate between OECTA TSU member John Cafferky and OECTA Provincial President Kevin O'Dwyer. The latest missive was first published in the December issue of TSU Highlights. It deals with member concerns over OECTA Provincial Executives ratification of the MOU, the Metro 7's OLRB complaint,  OECTA's legal response, and also some basic union principles.

Here are a number of previous posts which should help put the issues being debated in an easier to understand context.

You will find Mr. Cafferky's original letter to Mr. O'Dwyer at: None Dare Call It Betrayal

You will find Mr. O'Dwyers reply here:  OECTA MOU: Mr. O'Dwyers Reply

Mr. Cafferky's follow up letter is now posted below. A reply to a reply if you will, as Mr. Cafferky expresses his concerns over Mr. O'Dwyer's answers in his reply.

The issues regarding the OLRB complaints and OECTA's legal response are examined in depth on this previous blog: Metro 7 OLRB complaint + OECTA's response

Please know this isn't an official OECTA site if you are confused [?!]

Take it away John: 
Sir,
I thank president O’Dwyer for his reply in the November Highlights. For some elusive reason, either I have failed to communicate or he has failed to understand the matter in dispute. I will try once more: The MOU suppresses the right of OECTA members to ratify their contracts.
To date, every communication from Mr. O’Dwyer has ignored this grievance—the grievance. Section 79 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) grants all members of the bargaining unit the right to ratify their collective agreement. Mr. O’Dwyer’s MOU, Section N (page 15) prescribes that on January 1st, 2013 every member of OECTA will have a collective agreement that incorporates the terms of the MOU, irrespective of any wish of the membership to the contrary; irrespective of any desire of the members to vote against the contract; irrespective of the democratic aspirations of all OECTA members to have a say in their own destiny. On 5 July 2012 Mr. O’Dwyer and his executive violated section 79 of the LRA and in the process trampled a fundamental right of all unionised workers in this province—the right to ratify their contract. Can I make the complaint any clearer?
Mr. O’Dwyer accuses me of disingenuousness so let me invite him to be ingenuous: He has mounted a vigorous defence of his MOU, claiming: “The overall response received from the various members across the province has been a genuinely positive and supportive one.” If he speaks sincerely, he should have nothing to fear in permitting us to vote. Mr. O’Dwyer is a veteran social justice activist and he knows the fundamental difference between rights and privileges—in hard times, privileges disappear but rights persist. We live in an age in which the powerful intend to curtail our civil liberties: How tragic that our union should lead by suppressing our right to vote.


Mr Cafferky [far left] assists with our much vilified + denounced attempts to present an alternative "Vote no" position on OECA TSU contract ratification night using reasonable + respectful debate, discussions + flyers/ signs. An ETFO member also came to try explain how the contract signings effect the morale + cause of the other teacher affiliate protests raging across the province. Who really are the bad guys here + why are there attempts to silence any dissent? Please also see My blog to be censored?   
OECTA will probably deny their members a vote. This past November, seven TSU members associated with four OECTA units challenged the MOU at the Labour Relations Board (LRB)—the first challenge of its kind in OECTA’s history. The TSU members asked the board to order a ratification vote. Marshal Jarvis, general secretary of OECTA, Paul Cavalluzzo, renowned constitutional lawyer, and Bernard Hanson, the much revered labour lawyer in OECTA circles, represented OECTA. Bernie Hanson argued for dismissal of our complaint without even a passing reference to ratification of the contracts generated by the MOU. Instead, he hid behind Bill 115, arguing that the legislation protected all contracts reached under the terms of the MOU. He claimed that the legislation prohibited the LRB from intervening. Cavaluzzo argued that OECTA Provincial had exercised powers enshrined in Mike Harris’ Bill 160—the same Bill that Cavluzzo and Jarvis some years past had opposed so valiantly.  Arguing against our right to vote, Cavaluzzo claimed that OECTA had a Charter right to free association and as a self-governing local democracy it should be free of LRB intervention. Hanson and Cavalluzo displayed masterful lawyering but their arguments undermined the local democracy they sought to protect—one does not preserve democracy by suppressing a vote.
Mr. O’Dwyer has persistently justified the MOU but interestingly, OECTA’s lawyers refused to defend the MOU at the hearing, hiding instead behind Bill 115. OECTA delivers one message to its members and a very different message to the LRB, suggesting a deliberate lack of candor. TSU’s president has suggested that on both sides of the MOU a consensus had developed “that it would have been better to let members vote.” Indeed, OECTA’s lawyers could have allowed the LRB to order a ratification vote, a strategy that would have provided an elegant remedy. That OECTA fought off a vote with all the expertise their lawyers could muster indicates that this consensus has not penetrated OECTA’s higher ranks. OECTA’s disproportionate determination to prevent the LRB ordering a vote  leads one to suspect that they are hiding something.
On or before July 5th, OECTA’s lawyers vetted the MOU but OECTA has not divulged this legal opinion to the Council of Presidents (or to anybody else). Presumably, the lawyers advised that the MOU violated section 79 of the LRA. However, the government pressed for an immediate and binding agreement so OECTA agreed to coerce its members. Whether we can ever prove any malfeasance, the reality is that come 1 January 2013 OECTA will impose a collective agreement on every member—without a vote.

Today, our union chooses to coerce us; tomorrow our employers will follow suit because the union has unwisely set the precedent. In the game of power, the weaker party must remain true to its principles. Individual members must hold the union to its principles while the union must hold employers and government to the highest social standard. Over the next decade unions will engage in endless struggles to preserve workers rights, struggles against stronger and better financed opponents. We are the union and we cannot afford to abrogate our rights—the gains of a single deal can never justify that sacrifice. For teachers, the first round of the struggle began with Bill 115, a flimsily disguised attack on collective bargaining rights. Regrettably, OECTA  cannot participate in the struggle, having sold our collective soul by suppressing our collective vote on the MOU. Every member of OECTA will live to regret the abdication of principle enshrined n the MOU.

You may comment using the Comment button below: 

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great refreshing read-thanks to you both. So how do we-rank and file members- control the power of the OECTA provincial office? We can't vote at the AGM. We need some activist leadership to ensure that our voices are heard. I think we need David Chiarelli types on every unit executive. Can you educate us on how to be more active in our units? My unit seems to only make delegate forms/training allowances/how to run for office info. available to the select few, to keep dissenters out. Also, what can we do, in addition to advocating for the OECTA Bill of Members' Rights, to ensure we get a right to vote on everything in the future? What about forming local Catholic Teachers Against the MOU Activist Groups-I will start one in the Hamilton area? Any other activist suggestions to keep the ball rolling?

David Chiarelli said...

How to organize when you aren't even being provided any local unit info? Normally I'd say call provincial for help getting it, but not nowadays, sad to say. I will have to ponder this on bit. Anybody else any thoughts?

One idea: Unit elections are crucial. So few members show up at many of them you might be able to democratically topple an executive by organizing and busing or carpooling out enough teachers from a handful of schools, sometimes even one or two depending on the numbers, to vote come election team.

In our original group, regretfully now mostly the powers that be, we started a small group who met Saturday mornings over breakfast starting in January. Picked out our most likely contacts, supporters and organizers at each school. Organized among ourselves who would be a good candidate for each executive position. Came up with a clear election platform. Sometimes "time for a change" works well. Kept it as low profile as possible until election time.

Started activating our support at each school when the writ dropped, as quietly as possible. Then get everybody to show up at election time and sweep them out.

You need flyers and a contact at each school to distribute a copy to each teachers mailbox, do 2 drops over the course of the election. Similar theme with catch words in all your candidates flyers [ie time for a change] Photo + keywords + catch phrase on the front + your resume or a letter to the members on the back. Phone calls each evening. A good short speech. Get voters to show up en mass election night. Bingo.

I suppose a lot would depend on your local condition but that's one idea that I know has worked a few times before over the years at our unit.

Any other ideas?

Anonymous said...

Vote out O'Dywer and fire Jarvis. Liberal lapdogs have to go!

Anonymous said...

Communication and social media are very powerful tools. This website along with other social media venues have been great tools for those OECTA members who want their union back. Many of the "Higher-Ups" at OECTA Provincial are terrified by this website and by the discussion that is taking place between OECTA members.

Anonymous said...

Sudbury Elementary Teachers voted 92% against the OECTA MOU.

David Chiarelli said...

The numbers are better than TSU. Still, that means 8% of those who voted approve of the MOU. Do you know what percentage of the Sudbury elementary unit voted?

David Chiarelli said...

Information is power. We get little or no info except that which they carefully choose for us to reinforce the group think about the MOU + the contracts. Syncophants repeat it in ad naseuum until it becomes accepted as fact by many of our members who hear nothing else. To play on T.S. Elliots words, this blog will end with a bang not a whimper. There should be more social media like mine not more, be facebook pages, Twitter or what have you....

Anonymous said...

Hi,David many ETFO members support and admire what you are trying to do. I wish there were more! Personally I would lay charges against those who are trying to shut you down, harassment and threats! Obviously, someone is running scared.

Anonymous said...

I would also help to launch and lead something in Hamilton. O' Dwyer needs to go. When he came to Hamilton and was asked why 550000 members did not vote on the MOU he basically said, " I did it because I can". If people were not so apathetic, I bet we could dissolve OECTA entirely and jump on board with an association that actually has "stones", like OSSTF.

Anonymous said...

WE need to form "Catholic Teachers Against the MOU/Bill 115" Activist Groups in every single OECTA bargaining unit to keep the heat on those attempting some change like removing O'Dwyer, Jarvis,and anyone else who voted for the MOU on Provincial. We also need these activist groups of individuals to circulate petitions in their units demanding the right to vote for individual OECTA members on everything. These petitions then can be presented to UNIT PRESIDENTS who will now be aware of their members' voices. Or send copies of the Bill of Rights to all UNIT Presidents/Unit Executive members telling them you want these items implemented. If they say NO, ask them why not? Could you blog a draft form of petition that members can use, David-OECTA's YODA of DISSENT? Thanks for all your work! We need ACTION NOW to keep them in check!

David Chiarelli said...

I will talk to John Cafferky about drafting a petition. He is quite a craftsman with words. Meantime the delegate applications to go to the OECTA Spring AGM are supposed to be available now and are due very soon. Get a copy from your unit or call the provincial office for one if that proves impossible. Please don't delay. There will be a lot of votes there as well as the PE elections!

David Chiarelli said...

OECTA did not pay the legal fees for its members who laid an OLRB complaint, also the members were up to the mercy of their unit for release days to attend the hearings. That is why so many of the units had to consolidate their complaints while OECTA used the full weight of their legal department [see Johns letter] against them without concern for time or cost. I think that's why you hear of so few members or units filing complaints on any of the MOU issues being discussed here on my site. The oddest thing here is where do these monies come from? Our own membership fees! As John has said "None dare call it betrayal".

David Chiarelli said...

"Stones"? I believe in Cuba they call them "cahones" :-)

Anonymous said...

As I have said before OECTA has some problems that need fixing. AGM 2013 is where it happens. As for OSSTF (or ETFO), they have huge problems and we are not even talking about their opposition to the existence of Catholic education.

David Chiarelli said...

Agreed! Our dissident members need to apply for AGM, and ask what the selection criteria is too.
Otherwise I think we might just see some faces change and some legislation changed but OECTA will continue business as usual.

Anonymous said...

David,

Please keep up your fight! Why are your locals agreeing to these deals?! We all felt betrayed in July but thought "OK...that was their leadership...they seem to be upset, surely they will vote NO on all local agreements and in essence nullify their leadership's decision". UM, APPARENTLY NOT!

I am an OSSTF (York) member, and I can tell you there were two reasons we voted no on our deal.

1) It was a total insult, and other than offering a few financial crumbs, did nothing to address our total disgust with the government, bill 115, our board for always being one of the first to jump on every "initiative bandwagon" and drag along us along with it, union solidarity, etc. etc.

2) A steadfast determination that the Catholic teachers would get NOTHING for their "me too" clause. The social media sites were just rife with OECTA members saying what they wanted to "cherry pick" out of the tentative agreements. No no, no you don't. You don't make us carry your cross for you AND get a better agreement out of it. We are disgusted with OECTA provincial for stabbing us all in the back (every Teacher in Ontario) and now, I guess the membership is backing their leaders.

Most of us would rather suffer under your imposed MOU while still fighting every step of the way rather than see you benefit in both public opinion and from any potential contract enhancements.

Are people scared that they would get rid of public funding for Catholic schools? That seems to be the prevailing theory in our staff rooms. Can you shed some light on that?


Anonymous said...

I'm hardly a dissident member , but I make an effort to be informed and to ask questions. I didn't apply to attend the AGM because the application asked for your experience with the local unit (of which I had none). Our staff rep, who boasts about doing it for the "free beer", complains about how shady the unit is, doesn't truly believe in the cause, and is completely unaware of the history of teaching in Ontario applied and, most likely, will attend. I'd rather O'Dwyer make decisions for me. Better the devil you know....

Anonymous said...

ETFO and OSSTF have huge problems?! Wow, we are looking where you are at this moment and our problems are very small compared to OECTAs . ETFO and OSSTF did not sell out there members like OECTA did. I really can't think how you can fix that betrayal. Unless you are all martyrs for religious funding and that should not have been a factor for your workers. I really hope your union can fix this but I can't imagine how. I would be very frustrated if I was a member. I really feel for those of you who have the intestinal fortitude to stand up, I actually think you are very brave and give you credit for doing what's tough.

Anonymous said...

The reason why local collective agreements are being ratified is because the MOU prevents Boards from further contract stripping. Basically it's status quo plus for local collective agreements outside of the MOU. I know our Board was chomping at the bit to go after our CA. It would have been decimated if not for the MOU.

Anonymous said...

Does James Ryan have a platform? Or is he just the 7UP Uncola? What changes does he promise rank and file OECTA members? Maybe a guest blog request for everyone running for OECTA Provincial Office, or do they only campaign to Unit Presidents? OECTA members need to know.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, local bargaining would not have entertained the CA being stripped. What an asinine argument to support the MOU. Are you kidding....feeling nauseous.

David Chiarelli said...

I will ask James after the holiday. Maybe he would do a guest blog or interview?

David Chiarelli said...

I don't think Catholic funding was an issue coz all 3 main parties have told OECTA they support our school system, but there are others who disagree.

Where there is smoke there is fire?

The Me Too clause? Actually there wasn't much I could see in your MOU lite I'd want for one, but then I don't want an MOU period. It watered down the sick day plan by letting the boards back into the process, which I'd see as a big set back at our schools.

Kept in the dark, without much if any info to the contrary, heads down busy at work, I quite sadly feel members followed like sheep. The low voter turnout suggests to me most just couldn't figure it out and didn't want to get involved. I speculate from a "leadership" point of view that was an intentional strategy. Squeeze out votes, the less who show the better. Just the party faithful. Call in all the chips. Sell everybody a scare story. The gun to the head with Hudak ready to take over. Sell out to the Liberals with this shoddy option as our best away out, gambling they can still form the next government. That's just an opinion though. I think a lot more will come clear as we approach spring. Even after Dec 31.

David Chiarelli said...

I'm not sure why anyone would want the better of two evils. We all need to get out and fight the good fight. A staff rep can be challenged at the end of the year staff rep election at each school.

An executive at the yearly elections. Its voter apathy that allows much of this to continue.

As for the free booze at the AGM, anyone who would give up 3 days of March Break for 3 days of meetings just to get free drinks at night seriously needs to get a life.

The younger teachers still get a charge out of this but I don't think most of them are there for that. Everybody can spot a mooch when there's a lot of work to be done + someone is always drunk or nursing a hangover. They don't get asked back anyway.

I'm pretty sure its member apathy thats at the root of OECTAs problem. Members feel they can't challenge the status quo and for good reason.

Of course its a lot of work year in and out to be involved, through good times and bad. Members are getting excited now but don't have much experience and question is: will thy still stick around after whatever the crisis of the day is? Often not.

The exec members everybody gets angry with do. They see no need to mobilize the troops of course. You do need to get everybody to feel enfranchised to mobilize, and IMHO a lot of average members would say why bother. That keeps the status quo in place. As a result the leadership gets increasingly cut off from their grass roots and begins to believe their own hype. Only they know. That of course is setting oneself up for a fall in the long run, the union as well too. IMHO

David Chiarelli said...

Provincial collective bargaining might help OECTA with our school boards. We are often at a bad disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate a contract + they just want to strip it or will ignore it anyway. Still I don't see how agreeing to the MOU is the way to get that. We have had our sick day banks and gratuities stripped beyond whatever the school boards could have hoped for.

IMHO it wouldve been better to stay in solidarity with all the unions to demand a better deal. It can be argued if OECTA didn't go for a deal on their own some other affiliate could have if it was seen as opportune. I wouldn't doubt thats impossible. All our unions need to grow up and stick together to survive and over the years that trust has not existed. It shows immaturity as a teacher union political movement and leaves us all very vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that one of your readers stated that ETFO and OSSTF have huge problems.They are LISTENING to their members and are aligned with CUPE and OPSEU, 1.5 million workers and families in Ontario! OECTA were betrayed by the government and WORSE their very own PE. I think you will be left behind and come 2014, deceminated because the government now knows you will just roll over and say how far to the bottom do you want us to go???? And happily, OECTA will skip to their demise.As far as the "ME' clause? Guess what, you get NOTHING from ETFO and OSSTF!

ETFO Steve said...

I sincerely hope that the stand taken by the members of OECTA was not driven by a fear of losing funding. If it was we're ALL in a boatload of trouble. Here's why . . . "What's to stop funding from being taken away as easily and as cynically as your constitutional rights?" (answer: A strong united front. The only meaningful discussion about funding has to take place AFTER Bill 115 is dead.)

Because of OECTA's acceptance of the MOU (moot votes against it notwithstanding) we are ALL much weaker as we enter into round two on Jan. 1. How is OSSTF supposed to suspend extra curriculars if OECTA does not? OECTA members need to get on board with this and pause their voluntary activities, rather than gleefully rubbing their hands together over what will only be an artificial and temporary increase in enrollment.

My fear is individual members of OECTA will not be able to see the forest for the trees, and those who can will be silenced. We are all in a metaphorical lifeboat, and thanks to OECTA's ratified local agreements, all rowing in different directions. If this continues we are ALL going down together,OSSTF OECTA,and ETFO, in this race to the bottom.

Rank and file OECTA members, if ever there was a time for leadership, it's now! I hope you've got someone who can step up to the plate.

My dream, ever since OPS and FWTAO shot themselves in the foot back in 1997 much the same way OECTA is now, is that one day we will be united under one banner. Until then there is MUCH to lose.



David Chiarelli said...

We will land both feet running on Jan 1st with Bill 115, then there is the Liberal leadership protests Jan 25-26, a new premier, and quite likely a spring election with all 3 parties currently within a few points of each other in the polls.

The OLP probably thinks they are going to catch a big wave of popular support with all the media coverage they will get during the convention. My bet is OECTA thinks it will also be along for the ride. However, a very big gamble was taken, and nothing can be taken for granted.

Bill 115 could prove useful for Hudak to gut us should the conservatives be elected. Or wouldn't another minority government with a more powerful NDP as kingmaker be interesting? Then what?

I can't see a Liberal government involved in an two front war with an election and war with the teachers doing well. Unfortunately, the teachers unions are also divided going into the new year. Maybe the Common Front will be a good way to try to salvage what we can from the situation?

By going after catholic funding the other affiliates did not help things at all. Ditto OECTA with the MOU debacle which has divided us from within and without the other teacher unions.

Don't forget pension talks are coming too. 2013 could very much be make or break for all our teacher affiliates, but where is the common vision to rise above all the b.s. while we look over the precipice?

This is the neo reality when any side decides to go it alone for their own advantage. Not a pretty site.

As an OECTA member I'd rather be out on the streets with my brothers + sisters + go down if need be than gamble on appeasement + backroom deals. Obviously though this is a dissident point of view. However, I don't think our union is interested in an internal debate, or questions being asked. Everything we've seen so far suggests quite the obvious.

We may see some face changes and a few barn doors being closed after the horse has all ready escaped come OECTA AGM 2013. I remember lastyear when we all gave the education minister the silent treatment, then burst out in a rousing version of solidarity? What the hell was that all about?

If you are or want to become politically active within the union movement next year [2013] is probably your best time to do it. Immediately. If you don't you might not have that option next year by this time. Am I being too negative?

Anonymous said...

ETFO Steve is right. Keep Fighting United Together. Generally, that is the best rule. However, I am an OECTA member and CUPE members are far from perfect. Most of the teachers at our school have backed away from voluntary team coaching. The E.A.s from CUPE have stepped in as replacements. Reminds me of that 2 unpaid weeks during Harris and the Days/Weeks of Protest. I took a two week pay hit(and pension reduction), while CUPE members got full pay, crossing our picket lines. ETFO and OSSTF and individual OECTA members are doing something. Where's CUPE in this fight?

Anonymous said...

I am writing under "anonymous", but none of the previous comments are mine. Another "anonymous" person earlier mentioned that OSSTF and ETFO are both against the existence of Catholic schools in Ontario. Let me tell you that despite there being members that believe in abolishing Catholic schools, they don't necessarily represent the majority. The previous "anonymous" fails to qualify his/her statement, thus makes it sound like most or all OSSTF/ETFO members oppose Catholic schools. This simply has not been shown to be true. This issue is under jurisdiction of the courts and parliament. We don't need unions attacking other unions!

Sincerely,
"Anonymous 2"

David Chiarelli said...

United we stand -divided we fall! A simple truth 4 all of us. Ultimately the future of all the teacher unions in Ontario depends on it. However, it remains allusive. Why?

Anonymous said...

The four teacher unions will come together in the face of continued adversity. OECTA and OSSTF we need to go through some internal reflection and change 1st. ETFO went through that change 4 yrs ago.

Anonymous said...

Change begins at the top!

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