Monday, 30 March 2015
Lack of TCDSB Union Consultation: A Chronology of Events!
My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! Edit, Artwork to be added!
As stated in my April Blog Update [Here], I am eager in the months ahead to move on from the constant barrage of disturbing OECTA news here at my Teacher Free Speech site. I plan to focus more on other topics of reader interest. However, the story concerns three local teacher units, OECTA TSU, TECT and TOTL Also 2 CUPE and 1 APSSP staff and support worker units. So it's not really about OECTA Provincial per se. Indeed, their very stalwart union struggle is not at all like the usual depressing OECTA tales of self inflicted misery we've come to know so well since the July 5 2012 Surprise MOU debacle. The dynamic between the groups provides an excellent example of solidarity, commitment and drive for everyone in the Ontario public sector union movement to heed during the difficult months ahead, including OECTA, OSSTF , ETFO and CUPE members alike.
At the March 26 TCDSB board meeting, all 7 union groups found themselves once and for all irrevocably left out of the budget deficit consultation process [Here]. In a highly disgraceful TCDSB tour de force, all 7 union groups representing the boards teachers, staff and support workers were limited to a total of 5 minutes to present their recommendations, before the trustees were invited to rush forward slash and cut motions for $19 million in budget cuts. TECT President Mario Bernardo certainly deserves our first Speed Reading Award, for his efforts to avail himself of the ridiculously limited opportunity on all 7 unions behalf! [Here]
OECTA TECT President Mario Bernardo: Our Speed Reading Prize Winner!
The "Chronology of Events" reprinted below was forward through the 7 unions last weekend, after the meeting, to all of their members. It's important that we also include it here on record for our future reference. Not only are the OCSTA Catholic trustees actions highly unprofessional and irresponsible. You have also seen the OCSTA Catholic trustees draconian initial contract offer [Here]. Don't doubt, as is the TCDSB way, that the unions are about to be attacked ruthlesslessly over the course of the difficult contract negotiations ahead. The board will once again try to "manufacture consent" for their repressive and regressive neo con political and economic agenda. The public will be regaled with false tales of a caring Catholic school board trying so hard to do right despite the unreasonable obstacles the big bad unions keep throwing in their way. This is clearly pure BS!
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS November 7, 2014 – March 26, 2015
We would ask that you review the attached chronology of events outlining the consultation process that has taken place.
Not much luck: OECTA TSU President Dave Szollosy tries to explain "consultation" to TCDSB!
BOARD ANNOUNCES SHORTFALL – Early November 2014
In early November 2014, the leadership of the various TCDSB unionized work groups were first informed by the Director that, instead of an in-year surplus, the Board had actually realized an in-year deficit of $9.6 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
BOARD PROMISES COMPREHENSIVE CONSULTATION – November 26, 2014
Less than three weeks later, on November 26, 2014, in an Open Letter to the TCDSB Community signed by Director of Education, Angela Gauthier, and then Chair of the Board, Trustee Davis, indicated that “Collaboration and consultation will continue to be our focus to ensure all TCDSB stakeholders are part of our future budget preparations.” The letter promised that, “Consultation plans for the 2015-2016 (sic) will be the most comprehensive ever undertaken, to guarantee all of our TCDSB stakeholders can be part of the solution as we move forward.”
FIRST CONFIRMATION OF $42.55 MILLION SHORTFALL AFTER THREE MONTHS – February 27, 2015
Despite the pledge made by the Director and the Chair of the Board, it was almost three full months later, on Friday, February 27, 2015 that the leadership of the TCDSB unionized work groups were able to view for the first time, a documented accounting identifying that a total of $42.55 million in expenditure reductions would be required to balance the Board’s in-year budget for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2016.
BOARD UNVEILS $42.55 MILLION IN CUTS WITHOUT CONSULTATION OR INPUT – February 27, 2015
That information was provided in senior management’s report to the TCDSB Budget Committee, entitled, Structural Budget Deficit Reduction Opportunities. The report also outlined for the first time, and without input from any of the TCDSB unionized work groups $29.872 million dollars in specific expenditure reductions to be considered by the Board of Trustees to balance the budget.
TCDSB Chair Del Grande: Watching too much game of Thrones?
NO SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS MADE TO NON-CLASSROOM SPENDING AREAS
The report also recommended that additional expenditure reductions of $12.678 million be made in: I. In-School Administration; II. Board Administration and Governance; III. School Operations and Maintenance; IV. Transportation; and V. Education Assistants.
No specific recommendations regarding cuts in these areas were made.
Together, this would total the exact $42.55 million in expenditure reductions to balance the in-year budget for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2016.
UNION GROUPS HAVE FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND TO BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS – March 3, 2015
On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, with only two business days to prepare, and no advance opportunities to meet and discuss the report with senior management or the finance department, the leaders of the various TCDSB unionized work groups were provided with their first opportunity to present their views to the Board of Trustees.
UNION GROUPS RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT LACK OF CONSULTATION AND INPUT – March 3, 2015
Each union leader, without exception, commented on the complete lack of input and consultation in the development of the Board recommendations. Efforts were made to share, with the Trustees, the impact of the proposed cuts on the services to our students and the effect they would have on their well-being and their learning.
Not much luck: Trustee Rizzo: Tried to explain "library as learning hub" to the board.
UNION GROUPS REQUEST INTENSIVE AND AUTHENTIC CONSULTATION – March 3, 2015
Further, as major stakeholders, all of the union leaders asked for intensive and authentic consultation to allow us to share our views on the impact of proposed cuts and our views on other possible areas that might be targeted for cuts which might be less harmful and less impactful on student well being and student learning outcomes.
UNION GROUPS SUGGEST A ROAD MAP TO FIND LESS IMPACTFUL SAVINGS – March 3, 2015
Some of the union leaders even provided a preliminary road map to identify further savings in their first presentation to the Board.
FIRST CONSULTATION WITH THE UNION GROUPS – March 5, 2015
On Wednesday, March 4, 2015, one day after the presentations to the Board, the union leadership was invited to a three hour consultation period with senior management, the finance department and trustees. This was the very first consult with the union leadership and the consult was to take place on Thursday, March 5, 2015 - two days after our initial request and only one day after we received our invitation.
Despite the short time lines, the union leadership acknowledged and thanked the Board for the opportunity and we were assured that this would be the beginning of the formal consultation process.
UNION GROUPS MAKE SECOND SET OF PRESENTATIONS TO BOARD – March 9, 2015
On Monday, March 9, 2015, two business days after the first consultation session, several TCDSB work group leaders once again presented to the Board. Once again, the opportunity was utilized to share possible impacts of the proposed staffing cuts on our students.
Not much luck: Trustee Davis: tried to explain challenges of new Canadians to board!
TECT OFFERS VARIANCE TO ALLOW BOARD MORE TIME TO CONSULT BEFORE MAKING FINAL BUDGET DECISIONS – March 9, 2015
The TECT collective agreement stipulates that teachers who are declared surplus from their assignments are required to be given notice by March 31st. Arguments had been made by both senior management and trustees that the March 31st deadline date necessitated that cuts be made prior to that date, in order to meet Collective Agreement time lines.
The President of TECT clearly signalled that he would be prepared to seek a variance (through Provincial OECTA) to the TECT collective agreement to allow the Board more time to consult and deliberate prior to making any cuts to the budget. Given that the Grants for Student Needs were to be announced by March 31st and given that other boards, including the TDSB were not making immediate cuts in anticipation of any announced reductions in the GSNs, a recommendation was made to delay any cuts until there was a clear identification of the actual board deficit.
UNION LEADERSHIP NOT CONSULTED AND PREVENTED FROM PRESENTING REGARDING SECOND SET OF BOARD PROPOSED CUTS – March 12, 2015
Senior management had indicated that specific recommendations regarding the $12.678 earmarked for non-classroom cuts would be discussed at the Corporate Affairs Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 12, 2015. Senior management did not post the report with the specific recommendations until after 5:00 pm of the same day. Given the posting occurred less than two hours before the meeting, none of the union leadership was in a position to respond or present to the Board on these proposals.
UNION LEADERSHIP PREVENTED FROM DEPUTING TO BOARD ON A GO-FORWARD BASIS AFTER ONLY ONE CONSULTATION MEETING – March 12, 2015
Later in the same evening, after only one meaningful consultation session with the union leadership, and prior to the union leadership having any opportunity to respond to the Board’s proposals, a majority of the voting members of the Board of Trustees voted to limit future delegations. Specifically, Trustees voted to limit future delegations to ten and any individual or groups that had previously presented were effectively barred from presenting again on the Budget issue.
BOARD HOLDS SECOND CONSULTATION MEETING WITH UNION LEADERSHIP EVEN THOUGH NONE OF THE LEADERSHIP IS ABLE TO PRESENT AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.
At our second consultation meeting on Friday, March 13, the union leadership expressed its disappointment to the Director and the Chair of the Board of Trustees at having been muzzled from speaking on the budget and proposed cuts after only one consultation meeting. In total, only eight calendar days/ five business days had passed between the first consultation meeting and the Board decision that effectively silenced the union leadership from speaking to budget issues and budget cuts. The purpose of the consultation meetings was always to explore and share information that would ultimately better inform our ability to offer constructive and meaningful recommendations for the Board’s consideration.
Having reviewed the chronology we would also ask you whether you feel we have been acting as partners in good faith. We believe that we have. Throughout this process we have had a singular goal in providing you with options and choices that will allow you to make the ultimate decisions about where the best place to make expenditure reductions rests. Whenever we were given the opportunity to input this process, we believe we have offered viable recommendations.
The GSNs will be announced five days earlier than was originally expected and through the offer of TECT’s variance – an additional 15 calendar days are available to make final decisions.
The Board has the opportunity to fulfil the pledge that was originally made by the Director and the Chair of the Board in their letter of November 26, 2014 to truly make this the most comprehensive consultation ever undertaken. More importantly, it will allow you to fully utilize all the work group leadership partners to ensure that your decisions will be least impactful on the quality programs and services we provide and least impactful on student well-being and learning outcomes.
We are prepared to continue the hard work that needs to be done, in partnership, as major stakeholders in our Board.
Posted by David Chiarelli at 22:40