Opening Statement



Sunday, 19 May 2013

OECTA TSU Election: Frank Bruno Speaks!

Non OECTA TSU members can scroll down to my other blogs, or click to go to my May Teacher News Digest 3 HERE!


TSU members will vote for a first vice president this week. You can vote on line or by telephone on May 22. You should have received your registration letter in your home mail. Both candidates have been offered the opportunity to post their UAGM speech for your consideration. 


FRANK'S SPEECH


Yet, again, I am here before you. I am running as I always do, from a sincere belief that I can do the best job for the membership.

This has been a year like no other. Teachers became the bad guys again, reminding me of the Harris years, reminding me of years of struggle, of the eventual victory and my personal belief that tenacious resistance is fruitful, not futile.

From July fifth, our world has been in turmoil, dominated by the implications of OECTA’s MOU, an agreement lacking the most basic ingredient of member consent, a violation of our democratic tradition, and a betrayal of OECTA’s long-standing commitment to local bargaining.



I will never cooperate or collaborate in any concession bargaining without the consent of the membership. Imposing a contract without a vote was wrong—OECTA was wrong, and with sadness I have fought my own union.

I have spent my professional life committed to the principles of union democracy, principles that enshrine a commitment to worker solidarity, to workers’ rights, and to the right of workers to organize. Breaking ranks with OSSTF and ETFO made no sense, serving only to weaken the cohesion of Ontario’s teachers. I attended many OSSTF rallies to demonstrate solidarity, and I volunteered to work on the election campaign of Catherine Fife in Kitchener Waterloo, successfully denying Dalton a Liberal majority on the backs of teachers.


The Crown Jewel in OECTA’s MOU is the 120 day short term disability provision. Remember, senior teachers had their banked sick leave stripped, in exchange for this provision— it has been paid for in full, and we have a moral duty to make the 120 day short term leave work in recognition of their forced sacrifice.

I commit to working relentlessly, to fighting every step of the way, to convincing, persuading or even challenging the board to commit to a humane implementation of the 120 day short term disability clause.

I support the general principle of the “Fair Hiring Clause” but I think forcing experienced teachers to spend ten months on the supply list is punitive and completely unnecessary to achieve the stated goals. I commit to lobbying OECTA provincial to make the Fair Hiring clause fair to both new teachers and experienced teachers.
 
If you think we had it tough this year, just wait for 2014 when we have to negotiate a new contract with the board. Anticipate a long-hard struggle. In that respect, I have experience in many areas: bargaining, health and safety, grievances. My record speaks for itself. Most of all, I have tenacity. 
 
I have been dedicated to union business almost as long as I have been a teacher, and no matter how tough things have gotten, I have stayed involved even when some people wished that I would go away.

 You see, my greatest asset is: I don’t go away; I don’t quit; knock me down and I get back up for the next round. If anyone can take a stand, I can: I can take on a long hard struggle, and my speaking to you tonight testifies to the strength of my character and the depth of my tenacity.
If you want grit, determination and tenacity in the executive, vote for me Frank Bruno
Thank you.

COMMENTARY:

Mr. John Cafferky, a regular contributer to this blog has also forwarded his recommendation. I'm not quite sure to do. Indeed I mistakenly thought John's recommendation was Frank's blog contribution. I of course will post any supplementary materials Dave Szollosy might wish to forward in the spirit of fairness with which this offer has been made. I will contact Dave asap. As I have stated earlier I will not be making a recommendation myself this year, so recommendations are attached without personal bias on my behalf.

Why I support Frank Bruno for TSU 1st Vice President?


John, Pamela + Frank

by John Cafferky

The Harris years formed my attitude to unions. John Snobelin’s openly declared desire to fabricate a crisis with teachers propelled me into political action against the Tories, volunteering in Mary Ann Chamber’s riding, putting in some long hours at the doorsteps, rewarded with Mary Ann’s victory speech in Scarborough East and the rout of the Tories provincially. We proved teachers can make a difference, both inside the classroom and outside. The indelible lesson Harris taught me is that when peace fails, you have to stand your ground and fight.

On 5 July 2012 our years of peace ended with OECTA signing the infamous MoU: Infamous because it signalled the McGuinty Government’s decision to follow the example of Harris; Infamous because OECTA imposed a contract on 45,000 members without their consent; Infamous because OECTA forced the Catholic teachers (against the will of the majority) to break ranks with our sister affiliates in the public system; Infamous because OECTA caved at the bargaining table, conceding the government’s demands and leaving the real hard bargaining to OSSTF and ETFO, piggybacking on any gains they made with a “me too” clause.

The MoU was wrong, and in five separate articles I found it impossible to write one good word about it. I responded to OECTA’s MoU with a local petition at my school, (Blessed Pope John Paul II C.S.S.) asking the TSU executive to condemn the MoU. My plan was to spread the petition to the other Toronto high schools after I received the executive’s response. Regrettably, the executive made a political decision to derail my strategy by suppressing the covering letter and the appended signatures and not responding in writing to the petition’s demands, regrettable because my school had loyally supported the current executive for five years, regrettable because it was an ill-conceived strategy to stifle dissent to the MoU.

With my petition dead at the executive table, I and six other members of TSU took OECTA to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) where we found ourselves in the company of four other units but, again regrettably, not TSU. We could not entice TSU to join us at the LRB or to provide any assistance in our David and Goliath struggle against OECTA’s lawyers, being met with the specious argument that any support we received from TSU would compromise our independence. While deeply touched by TSU’s concern for our purity, the Metro seven would have preferred more material support, but none came.

 Like all teachers, I evaluate performance for a living and my evaluation of TSU’s failure to fight the MoU leaves me struggling to even give them the token mark for effort. To me, the TSU executive vacillated indecisively over OECTA’s MoU, winning few if any gains, incurring many losses (gratuity, LTD etc.), eventually— inevitably—ending up on the wrong side of history.

In contrast to the TSU executive, Frank Bruno put in a stellar performance combating the MoU. From the start, he opposed OECTA’s suppression of members’ right to ratify the MoU. Standing on principles of union democracy, Frank maintained every member of a union has a right to ratify their contract, a bedrock and non-negotiable right. Frank denounced OECTA’s breach of solidarity with the other affiliates. He responded to the breaking of ranks by attending OSSTF rallies, carrying his OECTA banner when possible, enduring the OSSTF hostility and barbs with patience, understanding and a cheerful smile, on every occasion seeking to soothe the feelings of betrayal among the OSSTF rank and file.

Frank responded to McGuinty’s treachery to teachers by joining OSSTF members in electing the NDP’s Catherine Fife in the Kitchener/Waterloo by-election, successfully denying McGuinty a liberal majority on an anti-teacher platform. While Frank campaigned in Waterloo, I was a no show, shame on me; TSU was also a no-show, shame on them.


Frank was the guiding spirit behind the Metro seven’s challenge at the LRB. We could not have done it without him. While we fought it out at the LRB, Frank took the battle to provincial. He joined the clamour for reform, a force that became irresistible, leading to a near unanimous agreement to change OECTA’s By-Laws to prevent a recurrence of the MoU, and he assisted in the removal of the president and the election  of James Ryan.

Frank believes in the principle of timely disclosure and the informed consent of members. Had OECTA disclosed that the MoU’s fair hiring clause imposed an obligatory ten-month service on the supply list before a board can consider hiring a teacher, irrespective of that teacher’s experience, I believe the MoU would have received little if any support. A consequence of the fair hiring clause is that our profession is now one of the least mobile in Canada, not by any employer malevolence but by the deliberate decision of OECTA provincial. OECTA could have achieved its fair-hiring objectives without condemning our younger colleagues to play dice with their careers and havoc with their finances.

The ten-month provision is as unnecessary as it is cruel. Those OECTA leaders who compromised with OECTA’s MoU must lie in the bed of their own making, no matter how uncomfortable OECTA’s lack of disclosure makes that bed—life’s not fair, but that is a lesson we always teach our kids. In contrast, Frank Bruno followed simple union principles and in his bed he can rest easy. Frank’s fight against the MoU led him to the right side of history.

Frank Bruno for 1st Vice President of TSU!

Please explore my teacher blogsite. If you like it come again. Please share my link in solidarity with others!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW! You certainly have my vote Frank and it is too bad that John Cafferky is not in there with you. He certainly has an exceptional gift for words!!!!UP democracy and union member rights!!!You the Man!

Anonymous said...

Frank Bruno's time has passed. He is not progressive in his thinking. In his last term on executive he could not even keep up with his caseload. It is time for Frank to retire.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the present TSU executive could retire based on a surplus of fence sitting and seeing which way the wind will blow instead of defending their due paying member rights openly and unequivically as they are being paid to and elected to do!!!!

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