Opening Statement



Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Guest Blog: Justice for Mr. Brock?

A statement by Mr. John Cafferky


Mr. Brock's OECTA Halton Elementary unit has stood up for him. Now Mr. Cafferky does too!

When OECTA signed the MoU in July 2012, Richard Brock, President of Halton Elementary Unit, spoke out against the agreement, becoming the leader of the dissenting few in our organization.  In daring to oppose the MoU, and more importantly, in daring to oppose those who negotiated the agreement, Mr. Brock made powerful enemies among OECTA’s elites, elites who never forgave nor forgot. Recently, they summoned him before their disciplinary panel and stripped him of his presidency, making of him an example of what happens to dissenters in OECTA, warning all other would be rebels that dissent will be met with harsh reprisals.  That’s how the situation appears at present, and appearances count—perception is reality.

Of course those elites, if they ever bothered to justify their actions, would claim that they followed procedure in disciplining Mr. Brock. However, it is not sufficient to faithfully follow the letter of the disciplinary rules; one must be seen to be just, to act fairly, and to avoid any and all appearances of arbitrary retaliation. Appearances count, and, whatever the facts of the disciplinary proceedings—frankly they don’t matter at this stage— the OECTA elites have given the appearance of targeting Mr. Brock for reprisal, but in their ruthless rush to crush the dissenter in chief they risk crushing all dissent in the organization. An icy chill has descended on OECTA and only “pre-approved” dissent will now take place.

Dissent has benefited our Association. September twelve months ago I organized a petition against the MoU at my school and duly forwarded it to my Unit Executive. The petition was not well received. However, I and other dissenters like Mr. Brock continued to protest and ever so gradually more and more members came to agree that imposing a contract without a ratification vote was wrong. In fact, from September to March, the OECTA membership came to share our concerns. So much so that at the AGM, we voted out President O’Dwyer who negotiated the MoU, and we passed a battery of new By-Laws preventing any future executive from denying our members a vote on their contract. In principle, the AGM agreed with the concerns of the dissenters: in principle, the AGM voted with Mr. Brock.

OECTA’s By-Laws conceived of the General Secretary as the head of the union’s civil service, an individual acting at arm’s length from union politics, a politically impartial administrator. For better or for worse, OECTA appointed Mr. Jarvis General Secretary, a past President of the Association and an accomplished political infighter, almost the antithesis of an impartial bureaucrat. In the MoU controversy, Mr. Brock and Mr. Jarvis took opposite sides, and each man engaged the fight with determination, energy and passion—neither man surrendered an inch.


The Metro 7 were involved in the OECTA MOU OLRB complaint last winter.

I belong to the group of seven Toronto teachers who brought OECTA before the Labour Relations Board (LRB) seeking a ratification vote on the MoU. Mr. Jarvis and his two very expensive lawyers defended the MoU, arguing that the teachers had no right to a vote because OECTA had signed a binding contract with the Government of Ontario and not with the teachers’ employers, the school boards. The Labour relations Board agreed with OECTA. I felt  OECTA had employed a very dangerous tactic to suppress a ratification vote; a tactic that was not in the long-term interests of the membership. It transpires that I was correct.  Our employers, inspired by OECTA’s arguments at the Labour Relations Board, are now refusing to implement some of the “me-too” clauses on the grounds that the MoU is between OECTA and the Government, not between OECTA and the employers.

Whether Mr. Jarvis served the interests of OECTA’s members at the Labour Relations Board can be argued both ways, but he will never be brought before this disciplinary panel simply because only the General Secretary can refer cases to that panel. The exercise of the General Secretary’s discretionary power in referring Mr. Brock, his arch-opponenet in the MoU battle, to the disciplinary panel disturbs me greatly.  Given that Mr. Jarvis had totally committed himself to MoU fight and could never be viewed by anyone as impartial, surely it would have served our Association’s interests if he had recused himself from the disciplinary process. I feel a less partisan administrator would have chosen to lead OECTA along the path of healing rather than along the path of retribution with all its risks of appearing vindictive and vengeful. Mr. Jarvis’ panel performed as expected and exacted a heavy penalty on Mr. Brock, stripping him of his presidency for two years.

In justifying their action, the disciplinary panel found that Mr. Brock had worked against the interests of the association, identifying those interests as the appending of the MoU to any locally negotiated contract. During the local negotiations phase of the MoU debacle, the issue of whether or not to append the MoU to the local contract became political and ceased to be an untouchable “interest” of the Association. In short, OECTA ceased to assert its right to have the MoU appended to the local contract.

When my unit met at Christmas to ratify the local contract, the executive told us that they, and our sister unit, had successfully negotiated an agreement with OECTA staff (an individual not far removed from the General Secretary’s position) to the effect that OECTA would not append the MoU to the contract. We were repeatedly assured that night that the contract would be sent to the ministry without the MoU appended. In light of this evidence, one must charge the disciplinary panel with flagrant hypocrisy for punishing Mr. Brock so severely for doing to OECTA’s “interests” what OECTA had already conceded to other units.

The rules either apply to all or to none: Justice has not been served. Our Association needs to heal, not to engage in another round of senseless in-fighting. We may be angry with each other, but our real enemies are not members of the Association. I call on President Ryan to reinstate Mr. Brock and to bring this sordid MoU saga to an end. Let us all bury the MoU along with the hatchet.

John Cafferky

Mr. Cafferky's previous guest blogs include:

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal 1

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal 2


Richard the Lionhearted Brock at J25-26 during the winter of our discontent

YOUR COMMENTS?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"He who allows oppression shares the crime."
Desiderius Erasmus

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! I oouldn't have said it better. John Cafferky, you do indeed have a way with words and of telling the truth most eloquently!
Bless you for standing squarely on the side of our precious OECTA President Richard Brock, who remains a shining example to us all! And bless you Richard Brock for standing up for your Halton members and for all members of OECTA. Thank you for being you and all the things you do for the Membership! Some of my colleagues have nicknamed you the "bulldog" because of your quality of persisting in the face of evil. I myself have a bad case of hero worship for you! Take care. Do not let the actions of lessor individuals get you down.
LOL

Anonymous said...


“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy

Anonymous said...

Richard the Lion-Hearted sided with management (the Board) against his sisters and brothers (OECTA units). If you support the union perspective you cannot support this move.

Anonymous said...

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Nelson Mandela
FREE RICHARD!

Anonymous said...

Richard the Lionhearted did not side with anyone! He did not even apply for Intervenor(Observer) status. Thinking about doing something maketh not an offense. Otherwise we are all guilty for our thoughts! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! I am certain that anything Richard Brock does is done with his membership interests in mind (presumably unlike the previous commentator.

Anonymous said...

This "union" is really beyond the pale slandering and defaming such a good man. They are not fit to wipe his boots! These pariahs are sitting in judgment of their superior and trying to blacken his good name. This member of the previously mentioned army is ready to do battle for a great leader who looks after his people (members) first as all leaders are supposed to do! Richard Brock, you can lead me into battle anytime. I have seen you in action and believe you would be as good a general as your namesake!

Anonymous said...

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anonymous said...

That OECTA MoU screwed ALL teachers. And what OECTA has done to Richard Brock, who speaks the truth, is shameful for the organization. Thanks for nothing, OECTA. How much more damage can be done?

Anonymous said...

Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.
Bob Marley

FREE RICHARD!

Skinny Dipper said...

David, are you next on the "hit list?"

David Chiarelli said...

So I've heard. It's mostly threats though there was one attempt so far. It's about 50/50 whether folks love or hate me at PE and COP.
No inbetween.

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