Opening Statement



Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What Was Said: The OSSTF Letter

Regular updated news links follow on next blog.

Preamble: 

This letter is published without prejudice as are all public documents of interest to us as teachers regardless of our affiliation for information purposes.



The following link to We are the 80% provides a grass response to OSSTF's decision. It is also being added for balance. See: 80%'ers


Intro


Here is the complete text of the email letter OSSTF sent to it's tens of thousands of members regarding the union's recommendation of a resumption of extracurricular + voluntary activities. It was shared + discussed in the legislature on Tuesday. Also in family homes,  coffee shops + pubs across the province. It can be found on the internet. In short it is hardly a secret anymore. It has become a publicly available document like the others that I share here. Welcome to Marshal McLuhan's global village!

I am sure many of us would like to know what was really said as teachers regardless of our different affiliates.  It is shared, as are documents from all the affiliates + various groups on this blog for your information, so we are knowledgeable and informed about the important teacher union issues we all face. 

I have been questioned by OSSTF on why I am posting the email letter here and have replied as above, in good faith, with what I honestly believe is a practical and realistic understanding of public information in our new communications age during the 21st Century. Many folk have expressed appreciation that my blog is one of the few places anywhere that such teacher information, ideas and discussion can still flow freely at the grassroots level between us all, and it is with this good faith in which I post the following:

February 24, 2013

Dear Colleague

On behalf of the Provincial Executive, I want to begin by thanking you for your continued engagement, and extraordinary solidarity. During these past difficult months, you have been engaged in one of the longest collective and most complex actions in OSSTF/FEESO history. This has been a difficult and complicated time and your Provincial Executive knows the many challenges you have faced and the sacrifices you have made in order to fight for your right to collective bargaining. 

In September, the Provincial Executive developed and agreed on a long-term fight-back strategy regarding the negative repercussions of the recently introduced Bill 115. This united strategy was shared with Bargaining Unit Presidents and Chief Negotiators at a meeting held on September 7, 2012.The strategy was based on three guiding principles:

Ø  To create an environment in which to bargain an acceptable deal.
Ø  To ensure that the government of the day will know that there are consequences for attacking the rights of education workers.
Ø  To demonstrate to OSSTF/FEESO members that their union will not allow their rights to be eroded and abolished.

It stated the following:

Rationale:
OSSTF/FEESO has made it clear from the initial discussions about bargaining that establishing the rules under which bargaining was to take place was necessary to ensure a fair and democratic process for all parties. The current rules that provide the parameters for collective bargaining are found in the Ontario Labour Relations Act. OSSTF/FEESO has made it clear publicly that we would be following the Ontario Labour Relations Act processes and that is the basis for the future actions that OSSTF/FEESO will be taking on behalf of members.

Steps in the Plan:
  1. All affected bargaining units that have not previously taken strike votes will take strike votes by September 26, 2012.
  2. All affected bargaining units will apply for Conciliation and a No Board Report in an order that will be determined by Provincial Office. The order will be communicated to Presidents and Chief Negotiators via a memo to be released early this week.
  3. All affected bargaining units will likely begin to be in a legal strike position by October 11, 2012.
  4. Strike actions, including everything up to, but not including, a full withdrawal of services, will commence as was discussed at the June membership meetings. However, the initial strike actions will be designed according to the bargaining situation at that time. We will forward that document early this week as well.
  5. If the Government takes any action against any affected OSSTF/FEESO bargaining unit, extra-curricular activities will be withdrawn across the province. These actions may include steps to impose a collective agreement (the OECTA Memorandum of Understanding) or moves to create a regulation that declares our activities illegal, which would then trigger our extra-curricular response and the Government will have to answer to students and parents.
If OSSTF/FEESO is able to bargain an acceptable deal, it must be taken to the Minister of Education for approval. If the Minister rejects the deal, then the Government has to answer for that decision. This would also trigger the withdrawal of extra-curricular activities across the province.”

Your local leadership was asked to share this plan with you. Since September 7, your solidarity in implementing this plan has resulted in a number of significant achievements that have lead us to this juncture in our fight.Together our actions:

  • Stole the ability of the Liberals to form a majority government through our united actions and hard work in the Kitchener- Waterloo by-election on September 6, 2012.
  • Influenced Dalton McGuinty’s decision to resign his Premiership – a resignation that occurred a few short days after a meeting with heads of unions across the province and a mere few weeks after he publicly mused about seeking a fourth term as Leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario.
  • Forced a Liberal Leadership Convention which caused a full internal review of the party’s political position.
  • Kept Laurel Broten from seeking the leadership of her party by focusing on her role in the Liberals’ anti-teacher/anti-education worker agenda. This also highlighted the unacceptable shift in the party’s direction.
  • Forced the Liberals into an early repeal of Bill 115 – a piece of legislation that they fully intended to keep on the books for at least three years because it included the ability to extend imposed conditions on us for a third year.
Throughout the fall, while all of these political events were occurring, OSSTF/FEESO representatives were meeting with Government and school board officials to modify the OECTA MoU and create a fair, acceptable collective bargaining process. Those discussions also impacted the Government’s agreement with CUPE.

The magnitude of these achievements can be directly related to your collective action and solidarity with the Provincial Executive strategy.More recently and since the selection of Kathleen Wynne as the new Premier, many meetings, both formal and informal, have been held to develop a process to properly address OSSTF/FEESO concerns.During the past two weeks, representatives from OSSTF/FEESO have engaged in high level discussions with the Government. These representatives include the Teacher/Occasional Teacher and Support Staff Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups, provincial negotiators and the Provincial Executive.
These discussions focused on OSSTF/FEESO identified issues and were structured to achieve appropriate solutions. Substantial progress was made at the most recent meeting with government representatives on Thursday, February 21. At this time, the three guiding principles that were integral in our strategic plan were realized.As a result of this progress, the provincial negotiators unanimously recommended the following motion to the Provincial Executive:

“That the Provincial Executive recommend to members that we suspend our political actions related to extra-curricular and voluntary activities.”

After a thorough debate, the Provincial Executive also unanimously supported the recommendation. The Provincial Executive and provincial negotiators presented all the information related to the discussions and the associated motion to both Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups. These Work Groups include a total of 28 local presidents and local chief negotiators who represent the geographical and bargaining unit diversity of our 60,000 members.  The Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups also strongly endorsed the motion.

On Friday, a full report was presented to all local bargaining unit presidents and other members who comprise Provincial Council. Provincial Council is OSSTF/FEESO’s decision-making body between Annual Meetings. The following motion was presented:

“BE IT RESOLVED THAT Provincial Council endorse the following motion passed by the Provincial Executive: That the Provincial Executive recommend to members that we suspend our current political action related to extra-curricular and voluntary activities.”

This motion was strongly endorsed by Provincial Council.

A strategy was developed to communicate the outcomes of the discussions held during Provincial Council in a timely and appropriate manner. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the Provincial Executive’s control, the information was communicated to the press which negated the ability for the appropriate communication strategy to be employed. The information was leaked by a person in the Provincial Council meeting which was being conducted in Executive Session in order to prevent just such an event from occurring. This was highly problematic in that members heard the results of the discussion from the media and not their local leaders or Provincial Office. This is not characteristic of how OSSTF/FEESO commits to operating. 

From the very beginning of this fight, we have been clear that it is a fight to restore our collective bargaining rights.As a result of the meetings held with the Wynne administration the government has committed to put in place an appropriate team of representatives that excludes bankruptcy lawyers, but includes education and labour relations experts . This newly appointed central table team, along with OSSTF/FEESO representatives is tasked with reviewing and resolving OSSTF/FEESO priority issues.

Some of these issues include:

  • The development of a bargaining structure/process that will allow for local bargaining in this current round, and in future rounds. The government has communicated its understanding of the necessity of local bargaining to reach resolution. In addition, we will utilize the OLRA process that allows mid-term amendments to collective agreements.
  • A commitment to ensure fairness and consistency in the application of terms imposed. and those under negotiated MoUs, i.e. job security for support staff.
  • Any future changes to the grid structure would not be imposed.
  • A commitment to form a Working Group to examine a future OSSTF/FEESO Provincial Benefits Plan.
  • The parties are committed to look for fiscally neutral alternatives to unpaid day(s).
  • The government has offered multiple meeting dates in the near future (as early as this week) at OSSTF’s discretion, and will ensure that key personnel will be present at those meetings.
  • The Government acknowledges the importance of local bargaining and the parties recognize the need to develop options to ensure that solutions achieved at a central table discussion are implemented at the local level. OSSTF/FEESO representatives will be involved in the development of these options.
As I have said publicly, we know it is likely that about 20% of the membership will likely never return to participating in voluntary/extracurricular activities; we also know that about 20% have already returned/will immediately return to participate in voluntary/extracurricular activities and we also understand that about 60% of you will make your personal decision about whether the system deserves a return of your good will based on tangible results.  That is your personal decision, as it has always been, but in either case, do not short change the achievements your participation in our collective action strategy has resulted in to date. The Provincial Executive recognizes that each member will make individual and personal decisions regarding extra-curricular and voluntary activities.

In Solidarity,

Ken Coran, President

News links, member responses etc are included in the next blog!

Post Comments below:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Translation: We employed a failed strategy that has angered the public, opened the door to the Tories and now it is time to support Kathleen Wynne and open up the OSSTF check book. Just for good measure we'll throw the lions some red meat in the form of our list of "accomplishments" that subvert the democratic process. What a brain dead letter from a useless political action team at OSSTF. The Tories will hit unions over the head with this letter for weeks to come.

Anonymous said...

I'm not angry at you for posting the e-mail, but I am pretty angry at the person who sent it to you.

When OSSTF sent that e-mail out, it specifically said not to share it in any public way. The content of the e-mail and the confidentiality of the e-mail are two separate issues.

Many of us in the union do not agree with what is happening. We don't like it. We are upset about it. However that doesn't mean we can now disrespect the confidentiality request. How does that demonstrate solidarity?

I want my union to develop better, clearer, and more frequent communication habits. But I see now why they are hesitant to do so. So in the future when I get vaguely worded updates about what's happening, I will know that it's all thanks to people who couldn't help but share with the world what is suppose to be private communication.

Anonymous said...

Yes, OSSTF tried the OECTA method of back room talks and deals without allowing the rank and file either voice or vote in major decisions. They cling to the idea that the union leadership has a secret wisdom so deep that sharing it with the general membership would only screw things up. Mushroom farming.

Anonymous said...

OSSTF is a Liberal lapdog. You've got Coran hugging Liz Sandals on the floor of the legislature during the throne speech while his membership works in turmoil and makes the real sacrifices. Shame on OSSTF.

Anonymous said...

A disgusting attempt by OSSTF to pat themselves on the back and fondle the OLP. We at ETFO are now on an island. Bring on HUDAK! OECTA and OSSTF and the OLP have done everything to ensure lower salaries, a new grid and Bill 116, 117, 118. etc. etc. Mandated extras are on when PC's win the election. Surely to good God you are not thinking you would like to get raped again by the OLP. Oh wait! You have crawled back into bed with them. Loss of wages, benifits, ability to negotiate fairly were part of the big assault. OSSTF, you must see it as rough sex. Just disgusting!

Anonymous said...

I, too, was dismayed at the tone of the confidential e-mail with ken Coran telling all the wonderful things HIS union has done EX-CUSE ME! Who voted and went on a day long strike, kindergarten teachers NOT a bunch of JOCKS who are foaming at the mouth to get their jock straps on! Shame on OSSTF PE, SHAME on OECTA PE and GO! ETFO GO! the only ones with "balls"!

Anonymous said...

I challenge all unit presidents and provincial presidents to take 3 unpaid days next school year. Walk the walk!

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