In his guest blog OECTA AGM: A Time for Sovereignty, Mr. Cafferky refers in part to a recent letter sent by the CCLA to OECTA Provincial about the Discipline Panel's Brock verdict + dismissal. The complete text of that letter is included for you below:
January 21, 2014
I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) to express our concerns about a disciplinary proceeding and penalty imposed by OECTA’s Discipline Board Panel in a recent case involving Richard Brock. We understand from Mr. Brock and a review of some relevant documentation that the Panel concluded that, in his role as President of the Halton Elementary Unit, Mr. Brock did not promote the interests of the Association and thus contravened OECTA by-laws. As a result of this ﬁnding, Mr. Brock’s membership privileges were suspended for a period of two years and he was removed from his position as President and was also prohibited from holding any elected or appointed position within OECTA for two years.
We have significant concerns about the impact of this kind of penalty on the freedoms of expression and association of your members. In addition, we understand that there are allegations of procedural irregularities and that Mr. Brock’s hearing may not have been held in accordance with procedural fairness requirements. We are writing to ask that you, in your role as President, review Mr. Brock’s case and consider the broad question of whether these typesof sanctions are appropriate in a democratic labour organization. Moreover, in light of the procedural fairness concerns that have been raised, this case should be examined and re-considered. Sanctions that suspend a member’s privileges and/or remove them from an elected position should only be imposed when fair procedures are rigorously followed.
The CCLA is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-governmental public interest advocacy organization that has existed since 1964 to promote and defend the fundamental freedoms of all Canadians, including freedom of expression and freedom of association. As you know, freedom of association is a foundational principle at the heart of the labour movement, without which workers would be unable to join together in the struggle for better wages and fairer workplaces. Just last year, the CCLA stood with Ontario teachers in opposition to Bill 115, which in our view was an undemocratic and unconstitutional infringement on collective bargaining rights. The full text of our submission to the Ontario Legislature is available on our website @ Link
In our submission we noted that “evidence of major disturbances or ruinous disruptions” was necessary to justify measures that infringe on constitutional rights. We also argued that the right to collective bargaining goes beyond its economic impact to ensure a fair wage for workers, and that it “enhances the dignity of workers” and is about “participating in the governance of the workplace.”
These same core principles extend beyond the external relations between unions and employers and into the internal governance and discipline proceedings of unions themselves. Freedom of expression and association require that members be given a voice to communicate their views about how their union is run, and be allowed to actively participate in union governance. It is our understanding that the complaints against Mr. Brock arose in part out of concerns that he was taking a position contrary to the interests of some other bargaining units. We appreciate that, in a large labour organization, it may be difficult to arrive at a consensus with which all members and units can agree.
Nevertheless, freedom of expression and association should be protected even in cases Where there are dissenting voices. Indeed, these are the circumstances when these freedoms are most vital. The CCLA does not seek to involve itself in the internal decision-making and governance structures of labour unions, but in our role as a national advocacy organization we feel a responsibility to seek to ensure that those structures and processes conform to constitutionally entrenched freedoms and to basic principles of procedural fairness.
It also appears that OECTA has acknowledged that there were some procedural irregularities in the proceedings against Mr. Brock but has taken the position that nothing can be done to address these issues outside of a formal legal proceeding. We urge you to re-consider this position and consider whether the circumstances of this case warrant the imposition of the serious sanctions imposed upon Mr. Brock.
We also ask that you consider the concerns around procedural fairness that Mr. Brock (and other members of OECTA) have raised so that these issues can be addressed and avoided in any future proceedings.
Director, Fundamental Freedoms ProgramCanadian Civil Liberties Association
PS Highlights + some paragraphing mine, for ease of reading on this blogsite.