Opening Statement



Monday, 4 March 2013

OECTA's Chris Karuhanga Speaks!

Latest all affiliate teacher/union news links next blog.

[Other OECTA Election Candidates:James Ryan Speaks! See: Presidents Race ]



Thanks to OECTA Provincial Treasurer Candidate Chris Karuhanga for replying to the following questions prior to this weekend's election at our 2013 AGM!


Why did you vote for/against the OECTA MOU?
 
 I voted for the MOU with good intentions, under very difficult circumstances, and in absence of any less painful or less unpleasant alternatives that I could possibly think of at the time.

Do you believe it is still the right decision you made? Why or why not?
 
At the time that I made the decision – in that moment and context - it was the least unpleasant of all other possibilities that I had the ability to think of that our membership could experience thereafter. Removed from that moment and context, it was clearly not the right decision! Reasons:- 1. subsequent negotiations with groups still in the trenches, produced improvements that we never thought ‘possible’ at that time and which OECTA had to use the ‘me-too’ clause to benefit from as well; 2.the absence of any process for input/approval/vote by membership in respect of this MOU with significant, unprecedented concessions. As I have publicly stated before, had I known the process that would be unfolding post-signing the MOU – I would not have signed it. For my own failure in that regard, I take full responsibility.
 
What would you do to improve OECTA’s communications with our membership?

 Effective communication is only possible when there is unmistakable honesty, transparency and clarity in the framing of the content of messages that are intended to be shared for the benefit of all the parties involved. Those would be useful starting areas to start, in OECTA.
 
Would you support “one member one vote” for executive elections + union referendums on other issues besides contract ratification?
 
As you may know, I was part of the PDT Task Force whose recommendations going to our AGM this week, include an all-member vote for any Provincial Agreement ratification. The idea of a one member one vote is a most ideal opportunity to engage our members, have them focus on current issues that matter to us in our teaching World, while gauging the Executive leadership contenders’ clear understanding of the same. There may be a need to re-vamp how we currently operate, so that every contender is afforded the same opportunity to raise their profile before members across the Province. Nonetheless, it is an idea worth exploring and I would support it.

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?

 Our solidarity with other affiliates, both in Labour and in the education sector today faces a credibility hurdle, and our current OECTA leadership has lost trust – in my view - in the eyes of very many labour groups. Internally, we’ve been busy creating the appearance before our membership that all is well with labour working partnerships, by simply dropping known names in labour and falsely indicating that we are proactively engaged with them in constant discourse over issues of mutual concern. We have a considerable damaged-relationships-repair job before us. I believe it will take some time but it will definitely require dramatic, visible, meaningful and ‘trusted’ leadership change at OECTA’s helm, just to start. 

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

 Local collective bargaining has been under threat for quite some time now – given the preceding PDT’s that have produced partial Collective Agreements and in which we have, of our own volition, played along. Consequently, I don’t believe we are any longer in the position to protect local Collective Bargaining as we have traditionally known it before, although we also know that Provincial Bargaining as a one-solution-fits-all strategy will never work – especially in organizations that are more internally democratically-oriented, like OECTA. Assuming it is a reasonable government that wants to move in this Provincial Bargaining direction, we have to be proactively prepared to engage them to help them see our view of what would/would not work in our OECTA ‘world’.
What do you think is the greatest problem OECTA faces today?
 
 Today – the greatest problem OECTA faces, touches at the heart of OECTA’s very existence and it encompasses the following:-
 
Internal:
 
- OECTA internal polarization and divisiveness, based on current personal leadership methods of work
- shaky relationships – with partnerships that we have to work with inside our own Catholic Community and without whom we become increasingly isolated and further threatened.

External:

- threat to Catholic Education – and by extension, to OECTA.
- increased OECTA leadership mistrust relative to/by other teacher affiliates.
- OECTA leadership credibility issues in the labour community.

What strengths do you bring to helping solve it?
 
Our strength remains in our ability to regain course, to reclaim our credibility by tapping into relationships that some of us have cultivated over time with leadership in those groups (both internal and external) at a personal level. I know that I and others have through personal, visible outreach actions – during various recent teacher strike actions, pickets, or protests at Government Office targets etc... (with ETFO, OSSTF, CUPE) contributed to the beginning of a change in the perception that the entire OECTA membership was the ‘enemy’! My strengths are in building bridges and sustaining them. My assets are my character, personality and ability to nurture and sustain healthy, trusted, working relationships based on honesty, fairness and directness. This honest relationship building exercise has to continue, preferably with and by those who have visibly shown themselves to have the ability to do so in the past.

How do we know that you are committed to working for us, the membership, if we elect you to represent us?
 
My commitment to working for my OECTA colleagues is not motivated by any personal gain or any consideration of stature – whatever that is worth. Whatever I dedicate myself to freely do for the collective of which I am part, I also know that if done well, will also directly benefit me alongside my OECTA colleagues. That is good enough motivation for me.

Optional: Is there anything else you would like to add? If so please comment.
Finally – I believe that serving you/working for you continues to be both an honour and privilege – and that over the last 9 years on your Provincial Executive, I have built a humble record of this committed service that speaks for itself on many levels, on my behalf.



No big secrets or privileged info here on my blog. For more OECTA Election Info see: MOU etc?

Comment Link Below: Kindly note that any Comments that defame a candidate's good character + integrity cannot be published.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Chris for such well thought out and honest responses! I hope for OECTA's sake that you will be able to mend bridges with the other unions. If every member speaks with such honesty, you may have a chance. An ETFO member

Anonymous said...

From WAFLE
A page member has been in contact with us via message to share a letter that she wrote to her MP. She expressed her concern about the fact that the MP (a conservative), voted in favour of MacLeod's motion to legislate extra curriculars.
She has shared with us her MP's response, and with her permission, I have reprinted it, below.
The tone of the response is quite disconcerting...it could not be more clear that this educator is viewed as a second-class citizen. As well, this particular MP has an interesting definition of a 'resolved dispute'. Read on, below...

Thank you for your email.
I am disappointed that our education sector has not been able to return to de facto employment conditions in place prior to their now resolved dispute with the provincial government and is still holding students hostage as punishment for heavyhanded but ultimately responsible actions. I find it odd that you hold Mr. Hudak more responsible than the governing Liberals whose actions precipitated the approach you are allegedly so upset with. Ms. Xxxx it is my reponsibility to represent the best interests of the citizens of Halton, not just union and public sector workers.
Sincerely,
Ted Chudleigh
MPP Halton

Anonymous said...

A second one:
Thank you for your email.
I am disappointed that our education sector has not been able to return to de facto employment conditions in place prior to their now resolved dispute with the provincial government and is still holding students hostage as punishment for heavyhanded but ultimately responsible actions.
It is my reponsibility to represent the best interests of the citizens of Halton, not just union and public sector workers. I appreciate your extra curricular efforts on behalf of students in Halton. Your point that teachers should be allowed to determine how and if they volunteer their time answers the additional questions about value and fairness to teachers. I believe teachers should have an employment obligation to enrich student experience. If they are going to use the freedom that has been granted as to how they choose to participate in that enrichment, to withdraw that service, then they should lose the right to chose. I am concerned with the quality of the education service provided by tax dollars. The province provides education opportunities for students, it does not educate students as the by-product of a rewarding environment for teachers.
Sincerely,
Ted Chudleigh
MPP Halton

David Chiarelli said...

Could you please repost these under this week's March Teacher Union News Digest blog? They are very interesting but might attract more reader attention there since they don't directly relate to the OECTA election candidate blog comments. If you do I will post them there + delete them from here 4 coherency sake. In solidarity!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, David. I agree and did not know how to do it. Please repost in a more suitable place. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I don't like mr. Chudleigh's apple blossoms. Time to boycott them.

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks! I'll try a cut + paste to transfer the comments. I know what you mean about Chudleighs! I used to go there to pick my own apples until I found out who he was!!!

Anonymous said...

I am not a member of OECTA, and I apologize if this comes off as too harsh (I admit I perhaps do not know all of the circumstances surrounding decisions that were made) but to me, I find it completely insulting to insert the "me too" clause into your bargaining. It is cowardly and unsupportive of fellow teachers' struggle against this abuse of power and disprespect for democracy. If Broten had not been able to vaunt the "fact" that SOOOOOOOOO many Catholic teachers "agreed" to her terms, perhaps this fight could have been won for ALL of us, long ago.

Anonymous said...

As an OECTA teacher who got NO vote on the MOU how did any of us really agree to the MOU? We did not agree to it! OECTA SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO needs an OECTA OMBUDSMAN to check the powers of the Provincial Executive. What do you feel about the creation of an OECTA OMBUDSMAN, David?

David Chiarelli said...

Absolutely! Accountability? transparency? There are quite figures on St. Claire who operate as forces unto themselves, including ones who are not even elected officials. There have been motions before at AGM for an omsbudsman but they have been defeated. Go figure ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Chris for his honesty and for taking responsibility. It's refreshing to hear someone from OECTA provincial admit that the MOU was a mistake and that OECTA has a lot of bridge building to do to re-connect with its sister teacher federations. I only wish other members of OECTA's provincial executive were able to display the same type of integrity.

Anonymous said...

I have to be honest. I don't have a lot of sympathy for OECTA memebers. If you had stood in solidarity with the other unions we would have had a much stronger position. I understand your provincial executive did not give memebers a vote, but it would have been very simple for OECTA members to show their disapproval for what the government did by refusing to take part in voluntary activities despite having signed the MOU. Using the "me too" clause and letting ETFO and OSSTF fight your battle for you is disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

I am an OECTA member. The "me too" clause is disgraceful. We should have supported the other affiliates in the only way left to us (refusal to engage in volunteer activities). I apologize to OSSTF and ETFO members. As a delegate to the AGM this week end I will work toward electing a Provincial Executive that will mend fences with the affiliates and send a clear message to the government, "no more stripping!"

Anonymous said...

Who could ever think up something as putrid as a "me too clause?" Who would imagine it, propose it, agree to it, agree to live with it? "I can't be bothered to fight for something myself, but if someone else works for it and gets it, I'll be a leech and take it too."

Anonymous said...

Can OECTA members not refuse to 'honor' the MOU and choose to do volunteer activities as they Individually see fit? Would go a long way to repairing relationships. Admirable honesty and candour from Chris. Solidarity.

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