Opening Statement



Friday, 21 December 2012

MOE Broten: No Peace Treaty! No Truce!


Hot off the newswires. MOE Broten says NO! to Peace Plan or Truce! Commentary at bottom. Please use the Comment button below to send us your thoughts!

[Reprinted in full -thanx LT!]



Christmas MOE + teacher union peace plan offers dashed. The New Years Contract deadline is 10 days away at Midnight New Years Eve.

Teacher protest: Education minister pushes school boards and unions to make deal in next 10 days

Published on Friday December 21, 2012
Louise Brown
Education Reporter

The McGuinty government seems unwilling to bow to mounting pressure for a truce in the fight with teachers. Education Minister Laurel Broten said Friday afternoon she still wants local school boards and unions to hammer out a deal in the next 10 days, in spite of calls from within her own Liberal party and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario not to impose new contracts after the Dec. 31 deadline.

ETFO President Sam Hammond promised his union would will not step up job action or hold any more one-day strikes if the provincial government holds off on imposing new contracts until after the Liberal leadership convention Jan. 25-27.

The union proposes that both sides — teachers and government — step back from the brink of more labor turmoil until a new Premier can sort it out. That approach was endorsed Friday morning by Liberal leadership contender MPP Eric Hoskins, and also echoes a proposed “peace plan” made earlier this month by former education minister Gerard Kennedy. That makes two of the six contenders calling on McGuinty to dial down the volume on the teacher troubles.


OLP Leaders Candidates Kennedy + Hoskins had called for a peace plan or a truce.


Hoskins added his voice to the call for a truce just hours after ETFO President Sam Hammond invited Broten, in unusually conciliatory tones, to “take a pause, step back if you will, and allow us to work with the new premier to find a resolution.”

Hoskins said ETFO’s offer “presents an opportunity for the government to hit reset on negotiations. A negotiated settlement is always better than a legislated one. The agreement we reached with Ontario’s doctors proves it’s possible.

“I commend ETFO’s offer to halt further strike actions on the condition that the government does not implement Bill 115.”

Similarly, Kennedy’s “peace plan” released last week says no contracts should be imposed before a new leader is chosen. In exchange, unions would agree to stop further job action and school boards would promise not to lock out staff.

However, Broten released a statement Friday afternoon saying: “Today, I spoke with (union leaders) and urged them to use these final 10 days to focus their attention on working with local school boards. I am calling on the ETFO, OSSTF and CUPE leadership to … reach locally negotiated deals before the December 31st deadline.”

While she did not say what she would do if they do not reach deals, many expect her to begin imposing deals as early as Jan. 2.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents some 55,000 school workers across the province in all school boards, also has threatened one-day strikes of its own if she forces a contract on them after the deadline in Bill 115, rather than let local negotiations run their course.

The elementary teachers’ union, the country’s largest teacher union, has promised a one-day “political protest” in the new year should the government get heavy-handed, and public high school teachers have been voting this week on a similar action.

Hammond said that if Broten imposes the new contracts in January, the union will hold a day of political protest involving all teachers in Ontario.

He said teachers also will protest at the Liberal leadership convention “to send a message to the Premier-elect that we’re not going away.”

Should contracts be imposed, insiders speculate that teachers, as well as CUPE, may choose to walk off the job Jan. 25 — the first day of the Liberal leadership convention being held in Toronto, which also happens to be a professional development day for the city’s elementary teachers.

Hammond said the education minister “has a choice; if she decides to take a precipitous action it will trigger further disruptions and aggravate the situation for schools in every community across the province, which is something no one wants to see, and I don’t want to see.”

Hammond said his peace offering was not a sign that labour actions have failed, but “it’s an opportunity (for a new premier) to take a fresh look and find a respectful solution.”
He also tackled what he called the government’s “fib factory,” citing government suggestions that the fight is about money, not democratic rights.

He said ETFO has never put any monetary claims on the table, although the union walked away from provincial talks last winter long before Bill 115 existed and the government’s offer was largely about a wage freeze and reduced sick days.



Christmas + New Years this year do not promising for cheer + good will in Ontario politics. 

However, none of the other six candidates vying to succeed McGuinty seems likely to deviate much from the governing party’s stance. Five were at the cabinet table when Bill 115 was pushed through and the other, Sandra Pupatello, has voiced her support for the restraint measures.

Liberal insiders asked why the union would bother offering an olive branch when it hasn’t shown interest in bargaining with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s administration.

The teachers and education workers are opposed to Bill 115, which limits their bargaining rights and the right to strike, as well as freezing wages, slashing sick days and ending payout of unused sick days. It does allow for newer teachers to bump up their pay as they move through a salary grid.

In response to CUPE’s request for more time, Broten noted the province has been negotiating for 10 months and already has deals with the province’s 55,000 Catholic and French teachers, and more than 4,000 support staff.

“In addition, we have seen almost 40 agreements reached at the local level. Local agreements are possible and I encourage CUPE to stay at their local tables to reach agreements before Dec. 31st.”

CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn called the deadline “arbitrary and unreasonable,” and warned that Broten’s “hardened position” on the deadline “will make this crisis much worse.” His union’s members work at all boards, so a CUPE walkout would hit all schools.
Broten has also been cool to calls for meetings with union leaders and school boards over the holidays to try to resolve issues before students return to school in the new year.
“Dec. 31 is an impossible date. We bargain 114 different collective agreements. And for many of those school boards we have just begun the bargaining process … we need more time,” Hahn told a news conference at Queen’s Park.

Meanwhile, the Toronto District School Board is holding disciplinary talks with elementary teachers who refused their principals’ requests last month to add enough comments on report cards to meet board standards.

Teachers at roughly 15 per cent of the board’s 474 elementary schools followed the advice of ETFO to add only as many comments as they felt were needed — even just one — to show their opposition to Bill 115.

At the time, teachers were not in a legal strike position and the board told principals not to sign the report cards or send them home if they considered them incomplete. Principals asked teachers who refused to write full comments to reconsider, and some did, but nearly 1,000 refused and now must meet individually with school officials over the possibility of having a disciplinary note added to their file.

Here is the ETFO media release offering strikes to stop if Bill 115 not used to impose contracts. It would've been in effect until after the OLP chooses a new party leader when talks would resume: ETFO truce



Here is the Ministers statement as released to the media:


Statement By Minister Broten On Local BargainingDecember 21, 2012 1:15 pmMinistry of Education
Today, Laurel Broten, Minister of Education, issued the following statement about local bargaining:
"We started discussions with our partners in February - almost a year ago. Some unions decided to stay at the table to work toward solutions, while others made the choice to walk away. The agreement with Catholic teachers and the government is based on over 300 hours of negotiations. In total, the government spent hundreds of hours bargaining with teachers, education support staff and school trustees associations. I personally met with unions and associations 80 times.
After 10 months of negotiations and hundreds of hours at the table, we have seen agreements reached representing 55,000 teachers and over 4,000 support staff in the province. In addition, we have seen almost 40 agreements reached at the local level. Negotiated agreements are possible and they are the preferred approach. By reaching negotiated local agreements that are ratified by teachers and support staff, we can see a return to peace in our English public schools and can re-focus our efforts on what matters most: success for every student.
When the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) left the provincial discussion table after less than an hour of talks, we heard from them that they wanted to bargain locally. Unfortunately, they have not brought forward a single local agreement. It is important to remember that ETFO and other teacher unions had six months to bargain locally, before the Putting Students First Act was introduced. I encourage all of our partners, including ETFO, to get back to that work at the local level. That's where those discussions need to take place and there are still 10 more days for agreements to be reached.
Today, I spoke with Sam Hammond, Ken Coran and Fred Hahn directly and I urged them to use these final 10 days to focus their attention on working with local school boards. I am calling on the leadership of ETFO, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) to put students first and to reach locally negotiated deals before the December 31st dead line.

                                  
 Does this mean all out war with the teachers after olive branches were extended by ETFO this morning? Or was it just too little too late? Seriously, I don't know how you reasonably could reach contracts for all the local units across the province between Christmas and New Years anyway. It just doesn't work that way. When it does you get rush jobs like OECTA TSU last night. There's hardly time for a reasonable timeline to be followed. 

My best guess is she is playing hardball. What gain there is so close to the OLP leadership conference when both Kennedy and Hoskins are extending olive branches, alludes me. Is it an internal tip 'o the hat to the party right so they can still look tough and hardline? Are they taking their cues from Tim Hudak and trying to pull the voters carpet out from underneath him again?

 If so it would be quite a misguided notion, I should think. Didn't work before, so now damn the torpedoes + try it again? I look forward to hearing what the NDP's Andrea Horwath has to say! Hope she's on top of her game! It looks like a very interesting New Years ahead!


Please use the Comments bar below to share your thoughts and analysis with us all here on my blog!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

If she imposes a contract it's going to be political suicide! She is the biggest right fighter I know. There is no way she is going to be wrong. It's too bad that OECTA is playing right into her hand!

Anonymous said...

One OECTA unit may have more tricks up its sleeve for her.

David Chiarelli said...

Love the mystery & promise! Kindly provide the scoop to my blog 4 a news flash Or guest blog when the times ok. Or if i can help out, let me know by email.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, David! You have done a fabulous job with your comments and links. Many ETFO members follow you on a daily basis. You would have been a wecome addition to EFTO. LOL! I take a peek daily. I wish OECTA members would have done the same! I hope the few OECTA units left to vote, do have a "trick" up their sleeve as the comment above stated!

Anonymous said...

Any word on Dufferin -Peel???? I know they had a strike vote back in August.

David Chiarelli said...

First: Thank you ETFO readers! I appreciate your support and am glad to help out. Its too bad I can't tell who from OECTA is reading me. I know Kevin ODwyer does. Seem to have big pocket of support in Ottawa, Peel, Halton, Toronto of course, and the rest is spread out everywhere. I just ask anyone who supports me to pass the link on.

COP mostly hate me. Prov Exec half and half. Same with offices at St. Clair street, Party line is I'm bad. They've been snooping around, so I'd guess they want to shut me down. That's what they do. My own executive is fit to be tied and I have little if any support, matter of fact I think they all hate me right now. At the same time I'm widely known throughout our unit, yakking with everybody, and I'm sure it drives them nuts! :-)

David Chiarelli said...

Dufferin Peel? No not yet. It's all being kept hush hush. Why, I can't quite figure. Maybe a bunker mentality or the old secret code of silence? I know the info is exchanged by emails between the COP presidents, exec, and secretariat but no body is supposed to share. The better local units put it out locally but then its all over the place, not in one spot to be all found. Most interesting would be the voting numbers! TSU was ratified 6.2% of 10% of the membership. 2200 members in total. I'd suppose thats the real story. Its tightly guarded and then rapidly pushed through with the 24 hour required notice, seems to often be the pattern. However York wasn't more than a half percentage point higher and they gave their members quite a decent amount of days to look over and discuss. Sad. Sad. Sad.

I will see what I can do though so our members at he grassroots now. After all, we are the union!

Anonymous said...

Be strong, David! You can look yourself in a mirror and say, "I did my absolute best". I hope for OECTA, O'Dwyer gets booted out on his *** and EVERYONE involved in this huge mess. This may be too late as far as the rest of the unions are concerned. I fear that your union is now on their own unless there is a huge change in your members apathy.

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks I will! And most regretfully I too fear the same.

Anonymous said...

How "Catholic" of them to hate you.... Aren't they suupposed to forgive?

David Chiarelli said...

Our exec group started out with an agenda of change and has now come full circle in 4 years. [except for president who is on a 2 year term we have yearly elections] Of course a lot of the originals are gone. With me out of the way [should that happen] they can continue without too much inward looking, to become the new establishment. Regretfully, it has nothing to do with being Catholic. I suppose politics is just a blood sport.

Somebody else, who's local, suggested they are afraid of me because of my blog. They know it is very powerful and I can talk to and influence a lot of members on my own. However, I'm not sure they completely understand the dynamics here, and how it works.

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