Opening Statement



Monday, 8 April 2013

OSSTF Backlash: Vote No!

 
The following materials on the Vote No! campaign come from the REWT [Rank + File Education Workers of Toronto] Face Book page: REWT
 
 
 
My independent all affiliate blogsite, as always, remains opposed to concession bargaining, in keeping with my own hard line teacher + union point of view. I am glad to share this information today for your erudition. In solidarity, I have attended many of the various Rank + File Toronto events since the OECTA MOU was ratified by the OECTA Provincial Executive on July 5th 2012. My blogsite has quite a few readers visits [168,000 as of today] and is widely read and shared across the province.

I hope my reprinting these materials here can help the cause. I'm glad to offer a safe alternative forum where the issues can be openly discussed too. In other instances this past year the social media has proven crucial in allowing teachers to organize and speak at the grassroots level. We have seen that with the nonofficial member opposition to the OECTA MOU, and also with the last deal offered to the OSSTF membership. As always, I try to represent all points of view so we all can be knowledgeable + make up our own minds on the issues as teacher professionals. I and am willing to provide good links to both sides of the debate as they become available to me.

Here is the long version of the cover letter than accommodates the flyer seen above:

Dear Colleagues:

At the beginning of this school year, we were given the choice to accept a framework which devalued our work and underfunded the education system. If we did not accept, the austerity framework would be imposed on us. As most of us realized, this was no choice at all. By and large, we also rejected any attempts made by the union leadership to meet this “hammer with a handshake” Note the members’ rejection of OECTA type deals in 3 Districts last November).

Now, as we approach the end of the school year, we are given the option of accepting the same model but with certain amendments. The contracts remain imposed but they contain   improvements to maternity leave for teachers, job security for our support staff, and provisions to keep the existing grid intact, at least temporarily. So once again we are faced with some difficult choices. Yes, the new agreement is better than the imposed Bill 115 but it is much worse than the preceding contracts. Yes, the new agreement contains future plans to ensure collective bargaining but under new terms and funding frameworks yet to be established. 

Act on principle, as many claim, and you will not get anything. Be practical, ratify the agreement, let the court decide the fate of the imposed contract and accept the ‘times have changed’ argument. But can one really disentangle principles from outcomes when the value of one’s work in the public sphere is the source of impasse. We, Rank and file Education Workers of Toronto (REWT) urge you to weigh and analyze these options before you make this significant decision. A comparison chart, followed by a “Q and A” is provided below to help clarify some of the issues you may be wrestling with. 

COMPARISON CHART  [ed. my regrets, will not copy here in chart form but ... ]

Issue Last legal collective agreement 
Aug 2012 Changes as per agreement between OSSTF &  Govt., April 2013 Good, bad or indifferent
Salary

increases To be negotiated through legal collective bargaining. 0% in 2012-2013 0% in 2013-2014 Bad – this represents a loss of earnings of 3-4% based on inflation over this period

Local Bargaining
Free and legal collective bargaining under the OLRA. If approved, the agreement gets appended to the local collective agreement  •Local bargaining to be completed by June 28th   Indifferent. The big items:. Pay, sick leave entitlement etc. have all been agreed on. Any changes at local level have to by mutual consent. 
Sick leave

20 bankable sick days a year. •11 days at 100%, 120 days at 90% - all members who previously had a sick leave plan Bad. No matter how you dress it up, we’ve lost our 20 bankable sick days.
Unpaid days

No unpaid days. Voluntary Leave of Absence Program  - Possible mid-year ERIP of $5000 if VLAP not on target - Redistributed PD funds •One unpaid day December 20, 2013 •Full day’s pay for using fewer than 6 sick days in 2013/2014 Bad – not as bad as the original OECTA MoU but still a strip.

Maternity
Benefits 6 weeks guaranteed Eligibility improved to include 8 weeks guaranteed at 100% and portable  Good. An improvement

Sick day banks & gratuity
Up to 200 days to be drawn upon or paid out upon retirement. Sick day banks frozen at Aug 2012 level, paid out in 2012 dollars upon retirement. Bad, bad. Value of gratuity diminishes with each year that passes.
Payout of non-vested sick days (the accumulated sick days in your first 10 years)
If you retired with less than 10 years accumulated experience, you never got anything. Teachers  with more than 10 years of service get  “grandfathered”. Teachers with less than 10 years, get a one time payout, at the end of this year, based on a formula. Short term , it’s good – a teacher with 5 years experience, at the end of this year would get a pre-tax cheque for about $2,300. For new hires, there will be nothing.

Salary grid Movement on the grid [on the 1st day of the school year.]
Members move on the grid each year on the 97th day. Bad, bad. The government’s intention is to move to a 15 step grid in the next contract. Will the grid jumps be higher?
Future grid
Subject to collective bargaining under the OLRA. Guarantee that no changes will be imposed Bad. Nothing good promised. Govt. will still likely want to get a 15 step grid in the next contract.
Benefits
What we have now, as per last CA * Benefits remain the same. * Funding provided for implementation of an OSSTF run Provincial Benefit Plan Who knows? Maybe good.
Q. What may happen if we vote yes? 

A. If we vote yes, then the amended set of terms will be used as a template for future negotiations. In effect, this amounts to saying that we accept the new reality imposed on us by Liberal government as the basis for future negotiations. While the amendments are an improvement on the conditions of Bill 115, as imposed in January 2013, our ratification would confer legitimacy to a process and a basic set of conditions that were imposed on us. This is not simply a matter of pie in the sky principle or what some have termed ‘justice seeking’. This will practically hinder our legitimate ability to struggle against future austerity cuts and the parameters set during negotiations by present and future governments.   
Q. If we accept the tentative agreement, what guarantee is there that future contracts will not be imposed again? Will we resume local collective bargaining in 2014? 

The amended imposed contract does suggest that the OSSTF and the Liberal government are working to create a formalized framework, avoiding the “need” for another Bill 115. Future collective bargaining, addressing most of the major issues will continue at provincial level. Local bargaining will be an add-on once the big ticket items have been resolved provincially.
Q. Does ratifying the proposed contract have any bearing on the legal challenge against Bill 115? 
A. No. The Charter Challenge against Bill 115 contests the validity of imposing a contract without collective bargaining. The central issue that will be examined is whether the process through which the contracts were imposed sufficiently allowed us to exercise the rights to free association as provided under section 2(d) of the Charter. The imposed contract is still in effect until 2014. Hence, the Charter challenge will continue.

Q. What happens if the courts decide in our favour and the imposed contract is deemed illegal? Does this mean that a ratified contract will be also null and void?  
Q. The court challenge begins in late October 2013. The imposed contract will likely have expired before the decision is made by the Superior Court. A decision in our favour will hamper future governments’ ability to impose contracts on public sector workers. However, previously bargained gains (20 sick days, banked days, wage increases) will not be retroactively redeemed. 
Q. What if we continue to say no? 

The current imposed contract will remain in effect until next year . Remaining defiant will be a clear statement that we do not accept the politics of austerity as a means for devaluing our work in the public sphere. It also means that governments, present and future, will have a more difficult time imposing frameworks and conditions that underfund public education. Finally, it will give us a collective boost in confidence by telling our OSSTF leaders what we want and expect from them in the future.
Please make your choice wisely. It will have a significant impact on the value of your work and public education during this decade. It will have a significant impact on OSSTF in terms of making it easier to transform it into an organization that fights courageously and intelligently on behalf of its members.
REWT Accreditation: Flyer Seth Bernstein/ Letter Tim Heffernan


 
End of communique ...

Please forward any additional material or links that could prove interesting and informative. You may use the comment bar below, or my gmail address at the top right of your screen.
 
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

All OSSTF members should vote no until we start with negotiations from the end of the 2012 contracts. I cannot believe the executive voted
97%. This is garbage that we have accepted.

Anonymous said...

Premier Wynne was with us at the TDSB during the Harris attack on public education and its workers. She and other Trustees voted to have unacceptable funding cuts imposed by the government rather than lay her courage and convictions down and do the government's dirty work for them. VOTE NO ... nothing stops the Premier from imposign these less horrible strips until the court case. Keep your self-respect, demand nothing less than the renewal of the 08-12 agreement through full and fair collective bargaining.

Anonymous said...

David,

A thank-you for keeping us informed...
This is what I see and hear...Telus executive makes 10 million a year, call center in Central America, Big banks make billions, hire and pay foreign workers much less than Canadian workers without benefits, foreign off-shore tax havens for thieves like Marcos, federal government encourage cross the border shopping, Canadian airline pilots not working because there are cheaper Europeans replacements

Who is speaking up?? Who hasn't been bought out?

Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiLZpuplzRw

Walmart Hudak...the people are awakening...

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