Opening Statement



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy Teachers New Year! Better than Last?

"Happy Teachers New Years! Better than Last?" Or "Why the situation at OECTA Truly Sucks!"


Welcome to the 2014 blog year! My site has reached a total of 295,000 reader visits from around 29,000 a year agoI've quite enjoyed 2013: Moderating the open teacher forum, speaking out freely and helping move forward challenging teacher issues. The site is obviously filling a need. It can be a useful tool in the good fight to rebuild a strong teacher union movement! I am honoured to be of help.

Last year was tough for teachers! Like many of the old guard,believed and worked hard to protect our teacher unions during the Harris Years. Some of you will remember the era well. The rest will hopefully never have it thrust upon you. It's important that we are all here. The next big battle will be for a new guard to fight, win or lose. It's important that we are able to organize and talk. Share info, discuss, debate and so on. The teacher movement could be headed for big political trouble in 2014.

The July 5 2012 OECTA Provincial MOU betrayed union solidarity with our ETFO and OSSTF brothers + sisters. Through concession bargaining it allowed the Ontario government to start stripping the contracts we had fought so hard for over the years. Members were forced to helplessly watch while OECTA sold out it's union heart and soul without even a member ratification vote.

Implementation of the OECTA MOU during 2013 made it's further shortcomings quite clear. The MOU didn't protect the different local unit's equally. That became apparent through the differences in the provincially "negotiated" terms for lost sick days, gratuities, + the LTD plan. Some units have been protected and even done well. Others not.

There has been little if any official public discussion or acknowledgement of the discrepancies. Some units might be glad for the new provincial LTD plan. Not OECTA TSU and TECT though. Their excellent LTD plan and assets, despite a temporary reprieve, will be taken away and replaced with the much inferior new one in 2014. These are big units but not favoured ones it seems. There's no nice way to put it. They are getting screwed. 

The losses were a lot harder for the smaller units whom didn't seem to count when the terms of the MOU were struck either. Consider OECTA Halton Elementary. They couldn't find out what if any remuneration would be provided for the death benefit they lost. It had been locally negotiated years ago instead of a pension gratuity. It too was cut on the MOU chopping block. Kaput! Gone like that!

It is particularly foul that OECTA turned it's back on and abandoned many of the smaller units who can't possibly stick up for themselves. That isn't the OECTA we fought to protect and build. It's not what OECTA was supposed to be about! 

Throughout 2013, like in 2012, OECTA Provincial remained conspicuous through their silence and indifference. It turned upon members and trampled even their most basic union rights when anybody complained. Last winter OECTA Provincial used Bill 115 to stop the OLRB from hearing a joint MOU compliant. Even more odious, the legal cost for that was paid for with the OECTA membership fees. Next followed the bullying. Examples were made to show what could happen to those who further continued to fight or publicly disagree with the MOU.

Last summer while we were on summer holidays, one of the very vocal OLRB complainants, Halton Elementary President Richard Brock, was stripped of elected office. All his union privileges and rights were removed. These heinous acts were committed by an "appointed" OECTA Discipline Panel. They were carried out in stealth under the cover of the summer holidays just like the MOU, then presented as a fait accompli. The procedures followed were dubious at best.


OECTA Code of Silence

President Richard Brock is well known within OECTA. He's a gunslinger who shoots straight from the hip. He won't just do as he is told. He asks questions. He wants answers. That was fine when OECTA was in danger of being crushed under Premier Mike Harris' boot. Move forward now to August 2012. Richard was first to cross the bottom line. He broke the OETCA Code of silence by publicly questioning and speaking out against the MOU. Answers weren't forthcoming and almost everybody else was keeping hush. Richard obviously wasn't being a very good Catholic boy in OECTA Provincials eyes. 

President Brock wanted to know how the MOU would effect his members death benefit. It was his elected duty. He was following the directions of the local unit executive. I should think that is what an effective, responsible President would do.

Unfortunately there might as well have been a big target painted on his back. Richard has become the number one example of what can happen if one dares challenge the OECTA Provincial MOU. 

Of course OECTA is a union, and unions have a Constitution and By-laws created under the authority of a AGM membership assembly. With both the MOU and the Discipline Panel, OECTA Provincial played very loosely with the associations rules. It hired lawyers to find legal loopholes allowing it to do many surprising things! Inevitably though it also woke up a sleeping giant in so overstepping its bounds. 

After Richard's story leaked out this fall, many OECTA members finally began waking up and asking a lot of questions. That this didn't happen right after the MOU was of course quite a shock. However with OECTA one should appreciate whatever miracles we get. It would seem there's nothing like martyrdom or a good Crucifixion to get everybody going! Poor Richard! Anyway, the OECTA membership is now finally wondering just what the hell is going on. OECTA Provincials methods, if we can call them that, are just too too bizarre and weird to inspire much confidence. First an unratified MOU? Now elected Presidents who complain about the bad deal are being fired? Who would trust or want to be represented by a union that acts like that?


Teacher union free speech?

Of course, the questions remain unanswered. There was some sort of vague third party legal reportwhatever that entails, promised to COP. The December deadline for it has come and gone.

It's unclear who's even in charge at the OECTA Provincial offices anymore. The Brock debacle has become a hot potato that nobody seems to want to get stuck with, that's for sure! Entering 2014, one must certainly wonder if, from an administrative and procedural perspective, OECTA Provincial has become like the emperor who has no clothes!  
OECTA can't justify not reinstating President Richard Brock now. The whole boon doogle is just too ridiculous. The Discipline Panel and the way it went about business is just plain ludicrous. The punishment lacks any reasonable sense of proportion to the trumped up charges that were made. The so called "Discipline Panel" policy and procedures should be properly handed over to the OECTA Spring AGM. It can authoritatively examine, fix up and deal with the problems. A fair, just and transparent decision over the fate of President Brock can be made then. Not by a kangaroo court as is now the case.

Instead OECTA Provincial indulges in skull duggery. Like at last winters MOU OLRB hearing, members dues are again being wasted on finding legal loopholes to save OECTA Provincial's sorry ass. As you might guess Richard is up against a stubborn, obstinate wall. He has no choice now but to seek answers and redress in civil court. In case you didn't know there has been a new development. He is now being asked by OECTA to prove that they are his employer for Christ's sake! That means he needs to privately match the membership dollars OECTA Provincial has spent on legal costs to come up with this. Otherwise his case is prevented from proceeding in court. That's pretty pathetic coming from a once great teachers union. Worse, Richard wasn't told what's up until the last minute before Christmas holidays. Talk about adding insult to injury and rubbing it in hard!

To be blunt, these OECTA boondoggles are futile and arrogant. Provincial can't continue to just keep trying to pull the wool over every ones' eyes or bully them into submission.


Without strong principles and a moral centre, OECTA is at best on shaky grounds. How can such a teacher union claim to represent its members best interests anymore without getting laughed out of the room?

To be even more blunt one might well argue that over the last year we have witnessed a defacto OECTA Coup de Etat up at the OECTA Provincial offices. The real authority in OECTA should be exercised and determined solely by the OECTA AGM. It is how the membership provides direction and defines the unions best interests. Instead we have very dubious committees making these decisions while the provincial executive claims its hand are tied and it can't do anything. Whatever happened to the principle of an elected provincial executive carrying out the decisions that the AGM members are supposed to make?!? The unions Constitution and by-laws seem to be nothing but a joke. And to take it one step further, who is authorizing and instructing the big buck legal teams that are chewing up the membership dues coming up with ways to stick it to anybody who says boo?

Here's another OECTA problem deserving of our attention in 2014. God only knows what deal might've been struck with the Ontario Liberal Party in exchange for signing off on such a bad deal as the MOU! OECTA broke solidarity with ETFO and OSSTF and are an embarrassment to the union movement. It is still going to great lengths trying to crush any resistance within OECTA to the MOU. When it comes to Richard, Provincial won't even answer all the excellent questions that are being asked. What could they have been offered in exchange for all this blatant Liberal butt kissing? They better be enjoying their 12 pieces of OLP silver now at OECTA Provincial! Wait until everybody finds out if there is a reward come election time. When is that? Oh yeah, this spring?!? There's going to be lots of angry people across the province who will enjoy the last laugh with that if the Liberals don't win big time. That is even if OECTA can trust the Liberals after all they've done! Duh!


Sooner or later the OECTA coup de etat puppet meisters and their rogue gang of yahoo's will discover that they are only fooling themselves. They are no better than the self serving Catholic school boards and government who they are paid to protect the members from. Maybe they don't care anymore? Without a strong principled union the card house can only collapse from within. Forget about all those other mad dogs baying for OECTA's sorry Catholic asses. Nobody at OECTA is going to be any better off for their folly!

I would like to also address our OSSTF and ETFO colleagues in my New Years message of sorts here! This is an all affiliate blogsite. It was quite actively so last year up until September. Since then my OECTA coverage has usually had to dull that wider focus. Regretfully I can't write knowledgeably about your problems on my own, not having ever been an insider and all. My offer stands to publish any guest blogs you want to send me. Also know I will again report on your situation more and provide the news links like in 2012-13, once the 2014 provincial contract talks get going in earnest.

Meanwhile brothers and sisters, note what's happened at OECTA. With all due respect, don't doubt the same shit storm could happen within your union too. Maybe it's all ready underway. Quite frankly, after all the reasons, excuses, finger pointing and posturing of a year ago, OSSTF and ETFO along with the CUPE leadership also recommended that you surrender to the OLP's demands for concession bargaining. What kind of unions do this?!? The teacher unions recommended you let the OLP start stripping your contracts?!? Now the "no concession" line in the sand has been moved back everywhere.

Figure the rest out for yourself. You can blame OECTA. That sure didn't help! But maybe OECTA just leapt first at the crummy deals being offered? Let's face it. It's not beyond any of them. They have all done something similar during negotiations or strikes at one time or another. You better monitor your unions activity very carefully so that you don't end up getting dumped on even worse this year. Don't be fooled by fine words or empty promises. It's a crock of B.S. when push comes to shove. Beware! 

The teachers unions all face huge challenges in the new year ahead. We need to keep hope. We need to continue working together against the government and big corporate interests. We need to be darn careful about what our own union leaders are up to also. This blogsite has become a good example of what can happen when we all get together and can talk openly. What's left of the real union spirit is still alive and well in the open teacher free speech forums, discussions, debates, Q+A's and guest blogs here. Hopefully there are more sites springing up. I will draw your attention to them whenever I discover a good one. There can never be enough or too many. Another site is not a threat to mine. It means there's still hope yet!


As for the threats and attempts to censure, consider this: Richard Brock is still out there guns a blazing ready for a Showdown at the OK Coral. There is strength in numbers. We are getting closer to exposing those who will betray and sell out our basic union principles at OECTA through hard, honest questions and the truth of our convictions. That's why they fight back so much and keep going after Richard, won't let him back. They are probably quite afraid of him and of us. They should be. There's more and more of us and we are going to just keep on growing the more they try to stop us. They can martyr or crucify all they want. It backfires and just helps spread the very ideas they are trying to stop. Just ask Jesus for crying out loud! If they don't think so then good. They are only helping nail shut their own political "leadership" coffin!

The grass roots are the only true source of a unions power. Cut off from that they cannot continue to grow and sustain themselves. Only we allow them to get way with their bullshit though our apathy or silence. Complacency sets in. Maybe that's what got OECTA into its mess after decades of hard work building a strong, vibrant teacher union. Unfortunately there will always be those who get confused or have been just waiting to take advantage of complacency for their own personal gain all along.

The buzz being created here on line about the union betrayals of principle and the true cost of compromise is being read far and wide. Everybody who matters will soon know if they don't all ready. The buzz is contagious and make no doubt, it has all ready long gone viral concerning OECTA Provincial, the others too. Those who exploit our unions for their own power or gain can run, but they can no longer hide. Everybody will know or can guess what they are doing. What they have done. They will know the shame.


Censorship: who will be next?

The right questions are loudly being asked. The correct answers can't be denied, hidden, or tied up with legal loopholes forever. Skull duggery wont matter in the long run. To paraphrase Alert Einstein, it's not the answers that enlighten us. It's the questions that are asked which count most.

There's no going backwards now. OECTA can't stop the clock. More and more questions keep being asked. It's become a ticking time bomb. Rest assured, it is the excellent, probing questions which are being asked that will help turn the situation around. When we hear the answers, the difference between truth and lies will be as apparent as night and day. In darkness, ignorance and apathy the corruption can continue to hide and grow. Through the enlightenment of your continuing questions and search for answers, the truth will ultimately be clearly exposed for all to see. As hard as it is be patient. It's the truth that will set us free.

I look forward to continuing the good union fight with all of you in the year ahead! The unions belong to the teachers. It's high time to take them back!

Cheers/
Solidarity!

David C

 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would appear that OECTA has joined in with the "legal mafia" which applies the rule "whatever I can get away with is OK".

Anonymous said...

As an ETFO member I have seen the "play nice " attitude since September. We have been kept in the dark about negotiations and it looks like our union has crawled backed into bed with the OLP after the sc$2ing we took last year. We get promises like : "the grid will not be touched without consultation, our sick days will not be touched without consultation etc etc". The biggest disappointment for me is seeing our younger teachers carry on with no idea of how this career has been affected. I have a year to go and it saddens me to see what we gave up in benefits and other concessions yet police and firefighters, politicians gave up nothing. Administrators in London received a $4000.00 dollar pay raise. With our days off we lost $. But that's old news. OECTA, OSSTF, and ETFO would rather we forget that. It's a kinder gentler world. I wish I could keep my dues. They have been wasted on salaries of individuals who have done nothing to help me. Bring on Hudak. I'll be laughing at all the teachers who said: it's the best we could get".

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year David! Your New Years Message sums up the current conditions perfectly.

I have been a member of OECTA since the late 1980's and soon can retire (lucky me). I am outraged by how OECTA sold out its members with no MOU vote, rewarded Kevin O'Dwyer with a pay raise, and continues to run OECTA with no grassroots input whatsoever. Why younger teachers don't actively fight this leadership at Provincial is beyond me. It will only get worse for them.

OECTA is becoming an apartheid of the entitled few at OECTA Provincial and the rest of rank and file members being adversely affected by Provincial's every move. Read @OECTA, etc., and there's no mention of the Richard Brock lawsuit. Why? Truth too scary? But remember what happened in South Africa. Mandela won. Hopefully the same will happen in OECTA. If not...?

David Chiarelli said...

Seriously! Someday we all need to grow up and leave the OECTA school yard for others. If not it's unhealthy, not only for us, but for the organization. Maybe that's what we are seeing now? But why?

Anonymous said...

Apartheid? Are you serious? OECTA may have problems as every democratic organization does but ridiculous statements like this are a joke. If you don't like OECTA's direction then get off you couch and get involved. If you are retiring, be thankful that you will be drawing on the world's best managed DEFINED BENEFIT pension plans.

Reality Woman

Anonymous said...

Get Off YOU Couch! Or YOUR COUCH!
With tablets today-why the anger directed at couches? People are probably standing up and typing these comments!
Also, Canada is a democracy because its legal system allows APPEALS. There is NO APPEALS PROCESS to OECTA's Discipline Boards/Procedures. The decision is FINAL. Does that conform to Canada's Democratic Legal System?

Anonymous said...

Reality Woman go back to YOU COUCH! Every teachers' union is the same. They all shun the true interests of their members. First OECTA sold us out, then AEFO. Then OSSTF sold us out not once but 3 TIMES! First we rejected their "DEAL". Then they shoved an MOU down our throats and tricked members into voting for it. Then Ken Coran ran as a Liberal in London. Then CUPE caved. Even ETFO eventually caved.

Now watch all of teacher unions come and beg us to vote Liberal in the next election and then offer up a brand new round of concessions by saying "Oh Timmy Boy would have been far worse". Then watch OTF come along and do in our pensions.

Reality Woman you get a grip!

Fantasy Man

Anonymous said...

Reality Woman: Yes we do have a good pension; for now anyways. However, can our young teachers look forward to the same in the future; I think not. That's the reality, woman as governments will see the $ in our pension funds and look for ways to grab (see Greece). The reality of our recent contract was that we didn't have a voice (on the couch or off). OSSTF and ETFO eventually accepted poor contracts even though they were off the couch for a while. We all kick and scream for ten minutes and then we go back to our iphones and ipads. I see it daily in my staffroom. The indifference/ apathy towards the injustices of what we lost is the reality in my world. Get off the couch- that's the best advice you have? You must be related to someone in the OLP.

Anonymous said...

Question to James Ryan: When is the exact release date of the independent review of the Discipline Board Decision concerning Richard Brock? When will it be released to all OECTA members to ensure transparency and accountability?

Anonymous said...

Year End 2013 Ontario Union Performance Report Card:

1. Police Officers-wage gains, improvements.
2. Firefighters-wage gains, improvements.
3. Kevin O'Dwyer-wage gains, improvements.
4. OECTA Teachers- unpaid days=wage cuts, benefit cuts, sick day cuts ( I had over 200 before the MOU but now I have 11), sick day banks obliterated.

Why is #4 so different than numbers 1, 2, and 3?

There's the question OECTA members need to ask in 2014.

ETFO Steve said...

Q: Why is #4 so different than numbers 1, 2, and 3?

A:
1. Police Officers- predominately male organization
2. Firefighters- predominately male organization
3. Kevin O'Dwyer- leader of a predominately male "political" organization and self-serving bureaucracy
4. Ontario Teachers of all stripes- predominately female organization

The girls need to get angry. Only then will there be real and lasting change. But, I fear the only anger will be at me for suggesting this. Such a misdirected waste of a much needed emotion.

The ball was very much in the court of the OECTA teachers last December (2012). OSSTF had just sent Mr. Coran back to try again and ETFO was standing firm, when board after board of OECTA teachers ratified their agreements, effectively nixing any chance for anyone else to take a meaningful stand against the MOU. What were they thinking???!!! Apparently the "majority" of the teachers were not angry enough to stand up for themselves. The results, "unpaid days=wage cuts, benefit cuts, sick day cuts ( I had over 200 before the MOU but now I have 11), sick day banks obliterated."

The real question is, "Are we going to let history repeat itself next round?" The government is very much counting on it.

David Chiarelli said...

See my December 17 2012 blog on the units ratification process. Members were told that the MOU would not be attached to their contracts, but that was not true. I took a lot of flack on my unit executive at the time for fighting this, but all the cards were basically stacked against even trying to. Still, we took a big chunk out of the vote. Hardly anybody voted though. It was all done last minute. No excuse for the members. Even after July 5th few said boo.

Its also unclear know who knew what even at the COP level. My understanding is a lot of the Presidents were confused about this too, and of course we know about what happened to Mr. Brock when he asked too many questions.

Sad state of affairs, and personally, I fear its all downhill from here.
IMHO at OECTA, its full steam ahead. The members did vote for a change but you can see what's been happened to that. You might want to go back and check guest blogger Pamela Spearns "Democracy in OECTA" article for more info. I think it's in November. The blog archive is located below this column

Anonymous said...

HEY Fantasy Man rather than being an arm chair critic get involved in your association. For the record OSSTF and the other federations didn't sell out their members or cave, they all did their best to protect member rights during a difficult times.

Reality Woman

Anonymous said...

Hey Reality Woman-Richard Brock was involved in his association. Look how his association rewardred him for being involved. Kevin O'Dwyer was involved in his association in a different way.-Look how his association rewarded him for his MOU. Stop blaming the ones involved. Their leaders are at fault. All blame for the MOU rests at the OECTA Provincial leadership's door-pretty much a manual of how not to run a union. Combine that with no constitutional means in place for OECTA members to stop them and look what we all get.

Anonymous said...

I hope tha the AGM in March will take a stance to defend members from the arrogant dictators who are wasting our membership dues with impiunity and failing to defend the interests and rights of members. Richard Brock is a prime example of what OECTA provincial does to local leaders who are trying to protect members. Let us hope that some true union leaders with the interests of members in mind are running for any open positions and that the AGM has the sense and discernment to base their election decisions on evidence= past performance rather than on pretty speeches and suits!

Anonymous said...

Hey Reality Woman, OSSTF and Coran totally sold out members. I wish I didn't have to belong to OSSTF. It is the worst union in Canada. As for OECTA, AEFO, ETFO and CUPE Ontario they are almost as bad. As teachers we should all vote to decertify all of our unions and join the Teamsters; they don't take crap from anyone.

I have one message for Coran, Elliot, Ryan, O'Dwyer, Hammond, Clegg, Jolin, Mercier, Hahn and Moist. GET BACK TO THE CLASSROOM you lazy sellouts. We need real leaders not ones who kiss up to the Liberals.

Fantasy Man

David Chiarelli said...

Sincerest regrets to all! I will need to exercise moderators rights. I won't be posting Comments that simply attack + insult our other writers. Nor ones where "facts" + "references" are just being pulled out of the thin air without a logical developed argument to support them. Especially when I can sense a blatant attempt to just shit disturb the discussion + concerns being expressed here. I gladly encourage and respect different points of views. They can help enrich our discussion, but not this. Try again, in the spirit in which the forum is intended. Otherwise, thanks no thanks!

Cheer!

David C

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