Opening Statement



Thursday, 7 March 2013

OECTA Election: Sonia Di Petta Speaks!

Updated teacher union all affiliate news  links @ News Digest! James Ryan + Chris Karuhanga's election answers are included below, as well as John Cafferky's article on the OECTA MOU OLRB "Quo Vadis" Scroll 4 now. Links 2 follow.



Sonia Di Petta is running for 1st Vice President on the OECTA Provincial Executive. We thank her for taking the time to share her answers with our members prior to the AGM this weekend, during the busy last week of classes prior to the March Break!

Why did you vote for/against the OECTA MOU?

I voted against the OECTA MOU for many reasons.  Firstly being provided the OECTA MOU after the Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, announces to the world that OECTA and the Government have come to an agreement was and is extremely problematic. Secondly, when the Provincial Executive did receive the OECTA MOU, I, only had approximately 2 hours to read, understand and seek clarification on the document before a decision was made. In those 2 hours, the following items were the main reasons why I thought the deal was not in the best interest of the members:

1) Deletion of sick leave accumulation
2) Reduction of sick days from 20 to 10 as a yearly allocation
3) Replacement with a short term disability plan which requires adjudication.  This process decides whether a teacher is worthy of 90% payment for sick leave or not. Either way, teachers will be financially penalized for being sick.
4) Provincial LTD plan that will be handled by OTIP – no competition with other Insurance companies allowed + exclusion of some units from the Provincial LTD plan +  others must be part of it.
5) Salary freeze, salary roll-back and partial grid freeze.
6) Grandfathering of retirement gratuity and deletion of retiree benefits

In spite of the fact that the above items amount to contract stripping, OECTA still agreed to do the following during the next round of bargaining: 

OECTA agreed to discuss provincial bargaining framework, provincial benefit plans and provincial grid in the next round of bargaining. In essence, the government achieved everything they wanted with the signing of the MOU – they cut 500 million and deleted 2.4 billion in unfunded liabilities on the backs of teachers and all education sector workers. In my view, this was unacceptable- our teachers should not being paying for the mistakes of government. 

2) Do you believe it is still the right decision you made? Why or why not?

Absolutely – There have been many implementation problems and issues surrounding the MOU that have impacted the lives of our members. As a full-time classroom teacher, a member of OECTA, I, too, have been impacted by the MOU.
  
3] What would you do to improve OECTA’s communications with our membership?

During my 9 years on the Provincial Executive – it has been important to me to provide full information to our local leaders and our membership. During my 6 years, as your Provincial Treasurer, I have spent many hours, days, evenings and week-ends, on ensuring accurate and transparent reporting to all OECTA members. I have always believed that it is the members’ right to know how their money is being spent. If elected to the position of 1st VP, I would continue my promise to the members, and ensure clarity, honesty and transparency in all OECTA matters. 

4] Would you support “one member one vote” for executive elections + union referendums on other issues besides contract ratification? 

This is a very good question.  I support the democratic process. Therefore, in order for me to answer this question fully, I would require complete information on the process involved regarding voting and referendums.  It is important whichever way the Association goes, that it be a decision of the AGM with full information, disclosure, discussion and debate. 

4) How has our solidarity with the other affiliates been affected over the past year?  Does the situation pose a future danger?  What can OECTA do to foster union solidarity in the next 2 years ahead? 

It is quite evident that our solidarity with the other affiliates has been strained.  I believe the situation does pose a danger in the following areas:

1) Protecting the existence of publicly funded Catholic Education
2) Protecting the TEACHER PENSION PLAN
3) Protecting collective bargaining and other labour rights 

Not being united, provided the opportunity for the government to exploit a divide and conquer approach. OECTA must be the first to begin the healing process that would lead to strong relationships with all our labour partners.  The OECTA President along with the Provincial Executive must immediately begin to build the trust that is needed to repair all our relationships.

5) How can we protect and enhance local Collective Bargaining if the government wants to move towards a Provincial Bargaining model?

I believe that the Association should not agree to a provincial bargaining model which imposes collective agreements on members, such as what occurred in 2012. Clearly the MOU is different than the PDT processes that the Provincial Association engaged in 2005 and 2008. In 2005, there was no signed agreement with the Trustees Association and/or government.  Therefore, the Association locally bargained each collective agreement, with local ratification votes on all matters of the collective agreement.  The government provided the financial aspects and the members decided. 

In 2008, OECTA had a signed agreement with the Trustees only. The PDT agreement was ratified by the Provincial Executive and endorsed by the Council of Presidents.  However, during the COP meeting, the unit presidents did direct the PDT team to seek clarifications.  Then, the PDT agreement was locally bargained into each bargaining unit’s collective agreement.  Therefore, each collective agreement was approved through a local ratification vote on all aspects of the agreement.

In 2012, OECTA signed an MOU with the government only.  The Trustees did not agree to this agreement.  Therefore, no PDT agreement was possible.  The MOU was ratified by the Provincial Executive and endorsed by the COP.  During local negotiations – the unit discussed issues other than the MOU.  During ratification votes, the membership only voted on items that were not part of the MOU.  Therefore, the unit membership never voted on the MOU.
  
The MOU required Bill 115 for it to be implemented in all collective agreements. 
I believe that local collective bargaining has always served each unit and each member of the unit well.  If provincial bargaining is imposed we must ensure we have internal processes to protect our members’ democratic rights.  This year, the PDT Taskforce has prepared a report for the AGM 2013 (Resolutions 130 to 145) to consider, which includes a process for provincial bargaining if necessary. These resolutions protect the rights of members and ensure a clear, transparent and accountable process. 

6a)  What do you think is the greatest problem OECTA faces today? 

One of the biggest challenges that OECTA faces is to regain the strong relationships OECTA had both internally and externally. 

b) What strengths do you bring to helping solve it?

In order to repair relationships one must ensure honesty and transparency in all matters.  Throughout, my nine years on the Provincial Executive, I have demonstrated those qualities through my work as your councillor and more recently through my work as your Provincial Treasurer. 

c) How do we know that you are committed to working for us, the membership, if we elect you to represent us?

I believe that the role of the members on the provincial executive is to serve the membership.  I have demonstrated this commitment for the past 14 years, both locally and provincially.  My commitment to you the members is always foremost in my mind as I have performed the duties on the provincial executive.  I take this responsibility seriously. I have demonstrated the courage, knowledge, independent-thinking and unwavering work ethic required to fulfill my duty to you, the member.

 Optional: Is there anything else you would like to add? If so please comment. 

I would like to thank you David for giving me the opportunity to answer these questions.  Catholic Education is my life.  I am a graduate of the Catholic system, both elementary and secondary. Presently, I am teaching as a grade 1 teacher for the TCDSB, while serving the members of OECTA as their Provincial Treasurer. It is a privilege for me to serve the membership, as I have been served by them throughout my life. 

Please be advised the views and opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thank you,

Sonia Di Petta, 1st VP Candidate



Comment Bar Below! 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

One more honest speaking OECTA PE, very nice Sonia. That's 3, where are the others?

David Chiarelli said...

James Ryan, Chris Karuhanga + Sonia Di Petta posted. Andrew Donhilee + Julie Paultig declined. Nothing from the others + time is running out. Interesting.

Of course, nobody has to .... Maybe speaks volumes?

I did not invite the OTF candidates only the table officer. Her position might be still challenged if anybody steps down. The winner will become next OTF President. If so, I wish Julie well.

Those that have posted have been getting lots and lots and lots of readers, so good for them!

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