Opening Statement



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

On Teacher Free Speech + Grass Root Renewal!



My Teacher Free Speech Ontario Contract Guide [Here!] and related blogs [OECTA] [OCSTA] are proving very popular and well read. There is a lot of discussion in the open forums below each blog. Why? Let's be quite frank! Our once proud teacher union system is badly broken. It isn't working right! It is in bad need of a fix!

Regretfully, the MOU debacle has proven that secrecy and reliance on "expert" elites within our union executives and secretariat has not served us well. Most of us were reduced to tears as our unions engaged in concession bargaining, surrendering decades of hard fought gains with the stroke of a pen! Then came the grim membership votes, if allowed, on issues and implications that were not well known nor clearly understood by most of us until it was much too late! Alas, it is obvious that our grass root teachers have been mostly cut off from full involvement and disclosure by the very "expert" people whom we entrust to take care of our union business while we have been of course busy teaching at school! 

How ironic! We are teachers. We are well educated. We can read and think for ourselves. We are capable of intelligent and respectful discussions. We can even do so by ourselves without "expert" supervision!

Since I began my blog nearly 4 years ago, there have been over 583,000 reader visits. Over 2909 reader comments have been posted. I am humbled and honoured. Obviously, we have many teacher needs that are not being properly filled through the regular broken down union channels anymore!

Nowadays, teacher union members past and present, regardless of our affiliates, often express a strong shared need to exchange information and discuss our common contract issues once again at the grass roots level. It only makes sense! We want to make knowledgeable, responsible decisions for the common good. We don't want to screw anybody over! Be told who's butt to kiss. Nor get used! We are the unions. It's not the other way around, whatever the "experts" might think!



Voltaire wisely observed that those whom you can't criticize are the ones in charge. It's a sad state of affairs that our teacher unions are now ruled by a new class of executive and secretariat "experts" who stifle + squash member free speech. Since 2012, both many due paying OECTA and OSSTF members have felt betrayed, and been strongly punished and silenced when they quite rightfully argued that the MOU's often unfairly and unevenly gutted their sick days, benefit plans, and gratuities. It is most unfortunate that dissent is no longer welcome in the deeper search for union solidarity such that our self professed "experts" would sink to these depths!

Sometimes free speech is very trying. Ultimately though, it has a way of taking care of itself, given the chance. Our open forum discussions here on this site usually come full circle to constructive, consensus building, even if the consensus is that we must agree to disagree and try again! Problems are hashed out and vented. Problems are aired, rather than hidden or stomped out. Nothing is left smouldering. Action plans are still being formulated and taking place! It is far from perfect or complete but it's an ongoing process! Also please note: the existing problem issues aren't going to disappear anyway, no matter how hard anybody tries to huff or puff or just blow them away!

As teachers, we understand that without justice, there isn't any prospect for peace. We know that it is important to consider all points of view, so as to make informed and intelligent choices. Isn't that what we tell our students to do! Then why isn't that what's happening in our very own teacher unions nowadays? For shame!

To achieve justice for all our colleagues, we need to be eternally vigilant too! My site strongly supports the teacher union movement. I've made my case for unions. I won't belabour that further, you can read it [Here!]. I also firmly believe we need a grass root renewal of our teacher unions. That has always been a key principle in my union work, dating back to when I served on my local executive [Here!]. We especially need grass root renewal now, if the union movement is to responsibly and transparently meet our many different, difficult wants and needs! 

It would be foolish to assume that change will be coming from top down regardless of what we are promised. That has not been our experience in practice! Far from it! In the meantime, this blogsite has the advantage of being an independent all affiliate one. My point of view is just that -mine alone. Nothing more. Nothing less. Yours too! As such, I am glad to continue to make this site available for the informed self directed discussions we otherwise are so sadly lacking, if you so choose. The Comments section is available below each blog for your use. Guest blogs are most welcome [Details!]. Please also continue to share any insightful info and links for the site via my email [davechiarelli@gmail.com]



For your erudition, you can view my Teacher Free Speech News and Views Archives from 2011-15 now located in the top left column on your screen. The great historian Thucydides once said that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. I therefore trust you will find the links here are an invaluable resource. Please feel free to use them to research the track records and issues here for yourself. Or subscribe to my Twitter hashtag [#davidchiarelli]. I regularly provide links revisiting different issues that are important as the need arises too!

One final note for those worried by the expert "manufacturing consent" hype. We are hearing it again about the need to be very quiet from the same "experts" who pulled the wool over our eyes before! Information released on the internet to ten thousands of members from whichever affiliate, is no longer secret nor privileged. Are you surprised?! Many of us still think like we did a long time ago. However, the same rules no longer apply. Technology has changed everything. The bad guys and gals find out everything immediately if they don't know all ready. They share it accordingly. Yet our due paying teachers, like mere plebs, are told not to share or discuss anything unless one of the same "experts" who screwed us around last time hears it first and is firmly in charge. 

Quite frankly, that attitude is very insulting! It's childish! It stinks! It is NOT, repeat NOT, a healthy mature, responsible, union decision making scenario. Make no mistake, union building is an ongoing process. Surely, teachers as highly trained professionals are capable of more than just being force fed highly screened, pre-mediated BS and then regurgitating it in tightly controlled discussions!

The time for change is now! As teacher unionists we can make a difference! Let's get our unions back in good working order reconnected to their grass roots using what resources are still available for the daunting work at hand!

In solidarity!

David C



Grass roots! Grass Roots! Danger! Danger!

COMMENTS!

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

How someone can write a post like that, and then write "In Solidarity" at the end baffles my mind.

I don't even no where to begin about how many mis-truths are indicated in this initiative.

I will only comment and say that: Where is this happening? I've never been told what to think or what to say. I'm very satisfied with the level of communication from provincial to local to our staff reps. Its not perfect but I certainly don't feel like I'm being "screwed." I don't know how you can be into union building when you're entire post tears our union apart...on unfounded grounds.

One thing I agree with is that our union system is breaking. But no because of lack of free speech....because of our government. Let's pick our battles here my friend. What a ridiculous waste of time and effort. Target the right apparatus and maybe we can work together.

David Chiarelli said...

With all respect, the MOE staff knew about OECTAs divisions + sense of betrayal over the MOU and they didn't get it from me. Do you think pretending all is well will fool anybody? This is a necessary discussion and to continue covering it up only aids and abets the MOE into thinking we are beat.

Members were told there was no deal, then when they left for holidays turns out there was. MOE used that to force Ontario Roadmap on rest of province. See my June + Sept 2012 blog archive for the links!

I'm afraid your sympathies and trust, tho well intended, are setting you up for more grief. Nobody is fooled by OECTA solidarity. It needs to be real, based on real, timely info and trust, not more of the same.

BTW, if all is so well why are so many candidates dropping out of the election race? Why the secret? Doesn't sound like everything is so hunky dory and I don't know who the powers that be think are being fooled. If silence is manufacturing consent for the status quo among the union elites, then you should be glad for blogs like mine, and the many others now posting including on twitter. And its not just OECTA other. To their credit this time they did put this info out first but I wouldn't quite celebrate just yet.

Solidarity for unions, just not this BS!

David C

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the new after the MOU Transparency, I belong to Halton Elementary and I have not received the AGM 2015 motions booklet that I have received every year for the last 15 years. It is a printed book listing all AGM resolutions and has always been sent to Oecta school reps to put in all Oecta members mailboxes. I checked all my emails from the unit office and no mention of this AGM 2015 booklet or where to find it online. Has the AGM 2015 book been handed out in other units?

Anonymous said...

Great Blog David. I am a Catholic Ratepayer and send my children to a Catholic School. If I were voting for the union I would hope a true Catholic teacher would lead the Catholic teachers in this province.

Keep Christ in Christmas.
Keep Catholicity in the Catholic School System

Ms. Chievious said...

Bravo David! Thanks for countering the propaganda.The sad thing is that OECTA has been able to get away with spreading BS and construing reality for so long, the old guard is delusional and narcissistic enough to believe they can still manipulate us. Disgusting.

Ms. Chievious said...

Dear Anonymous of March 10,

At this point in the debate of OECTA's well documented history, for you to make such intellectually irresponsible statements like: "I'm very satisfied" or "I don't feel like I'm getting screwed" means you are either drinking the Kool-Aid or mixing it. If I was forced to, I would bet on the latter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous of March 10,
if all is well, why are people being told to cease and desist their questions or else legal action will be taken. The kool-aid people are getting either very cocky or, we hope, scared that they are losing the grip. My bet is that they've gone too far. four walked away it's starting to look bad.

Anonymous said...

Dear Catholic parent,
Please, help. The public needs to know. We can't speak as we get threatened.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, Everything on this site seems to be nothing but conjecture Anonymous of March 12 is a perfect example. Who was told to cease and desist? By whom? What legal action?Surely one of these statements could be backed up with a fact or two. The other whopping bit of conjecture is these candidates dropping out - why don't you simply ask them and post their reply? You say blog news, well don't you have to ask a few people you write about a few questions to verify? Conjecture isn't news, facts are. We are all interested and concerned with how our union works and a good union member should defend their union unless there is hard evidence to the contrary. Is there any evidence of any kind here or are you just simply stirring the pot for your own amusement?

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks for your comment! See the news link archive in the top left column. The facts behind our concerns are all there, going back for 4 years and have been hashed out here endlessly. Please research all you need. I put it there for your ongoing convenience, and it's pretty potent and mind expanding stuff!

A lot of our "leaders" won't provide much of the other info of which you speak. Think about it: why would 4 candidates drop out of a race and nothing be said? You can bet its not because they haven't been asked. Certainly there is a responsibility on their part to do so and in a timely manner. They haven't. They are good people, so why not?

I would disagree with you. The members, not the secretariat are the union. If they believe the union is not representing them properly then they have a duty to speak out and try to fix it. If one truly cares about the union that is.

Please review the archives starting June 2012 through 2013 for starters, then check out the Brock files from Sept 2013 to March 2014. There is now a gag order in place preventing him from telling us what happened next!

Please note that OECTA dissidents in general are a very rare breed. That's even though the members had to stand by while their union played "Vichy", rolling over and trying to placate the Liberal government from 2012 until now, helping facilitate "contract stripping". They have been threatened and silenced for speaking out about their concerns, using membership $$$.
Without the resources the secretariat hasn't they don't have much of a chance to stand up and speak out.

Yours,

David C

David Chiarelli said...

Food for thought:

Could it be that everything at COP has been held in camera so nobody can say anything, including those candidates who dropped out of the election race?

Could it be that when the names are read out before the election, only those running will be given, not those who withdrew?

Could it be that the candidates that remain will be then acclaimed, ending any opposition on executive from here on in?

Scary times my friends!

If so, methinks you better kiss any remaining hopes for OECTA good bye after this weekends AGM!

Anonymous said...

Sweet Jesus, some of your members are so naive, uniformed, lazy or and I am sorry stupid! The acceptance of the MOU, NOT by members, but by traitors at the provincial level, have negatively affected teachers and students in Ontario since 2012. Shame, shame, shame

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous of March 12,
Glad that you're interested now. Better late than never! I have a pile of coercion and threatening letters at home. Provincial OECTA sent them to me by registered mail at the member's expense. At the moment I even suspect my IP address is being monitored. They are certainly keeping a very close eye on my twitter account. Prez started to follow me 5 min after I posted. Cease and desist is one of the General Secretary' s favourite phrases. We would speak louder but regretfully most teachers are too apathetic to care. No one would back us up just like they betrayed their president of 25 years.
Former Idealist

Ms. Chievious said...

Dear Anonymous,

Re: Shame, shame, shame. Agreed, agreed, agreed especially on the level of naivety, laziness and stupidity of our membership. OECTA counts on it and so far it's worked in OECTA favour at the Provincial level.

Anonymous said...

Read this and see for yourself the quality of our union "leadership" at OECTA. Remember this person was the author of the MOU!
https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onla/doc/2014/2014canlii57609/2014canlii57609.html

Anonymous said...

Remember Anne Hawkins was one of the traitorous signatories of the MOU in 2012. She was Kevin O'Dwyer's henchman.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that all of these members are paying 1300 dollars a year for a union that evidently works for the other side (MOU 2012)? The same people are on this "bargaining" team as were on it in June 2012. If anything or anyone is different please let OECTA members know. The:positive is that there is not much left to give away; except housekeeping items including young teachers jobs! They don't pay any attention anyhow so they don\t matter much.

Anonymous said...

I urged my young staff to pay attention. Someone, you can always tell who by the change in their energy, squealed on me; a week later I received a letter from president threatening legal action. This is why we go anonymous. I know someone who lost their job, courtesy of OECTA.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should double Kevin O' Dwyer's present $270,000 plus incredible benefits- salary when he performs at the bargaining table again this time and gives away our right to breathe air! (ha!ha!) And keep that jewel of a Secretariat (which backs its dictator so vehemently at our expense) in the style to which it is accustomed. We should also establish an award called "Dictator of the Decade" and give it to Jarvis for destroying our union from the inside. OECTA is a joke! I am so glad to be able to donate 1300 dollars a year in dues to such worthy causes. I don't care about my collective interests or rights at all I am continuing in the tradition our "leaders" have begun. My interests and rights are only side issues of no consequence to my "leadership" but I don't mind handing over my money to such worthy causes as the above. I pledge myself and my union dues to OECTA forever and don't even mind increases in fees as my leadership is doing such a "great" job at something?

Anonymous said...

I think that the Ontario government should cut more teacher and teacher assistant positions in English, French and even ESL and put more money into "heritage" language teaching. After all as Canadians we have to preserve the languages of other countries first. This is especially true of the more populous countries that are on the "endangered list" as there populations are only in the billions!

Anonymous said...

If "satisfied" reads here is the evidehttps://www.canlii.org/en/on/onla/doc/2014/2014canlii57609/2014canlii57609.html

and http://www.torontosun.com/2015/01/24/internal-dispute-distracting-oecta-union-insiders
nce

David Chiarelli said...

Multiculturalism has worked out well in Canada. We hardly face the problems experienced in other countries. So we must be doing something right. A part of that involves accommodating other language and cultures rather than expecting folks to just mix in and assume our ways.

Dunno much about heritage language classes taking away teaching jobs. However, would be willing to bet that well before this century is out, English will NOT be the key international language like it was during the American and British centuries. Maybe we should all be learning Chinese?!?

David Chiarelli said...

A link and commentary on the significance of the The Toronto Sun article about OECTA's woes is referenced above in my Teacher Archives from late January 2015 [top left screen].

Anonymous said...

On the Oecta facebook page, Sudbury Oecta President Kent (I bow to no one) McNeill said he published that Toronto Sun article about OECTA's non-resigning General Secretary as a News Release to all his unit members. Too bad we can't get that transparency in every Oecta unit.

Anonymous said...

Kent McNeill seems like a man of integrity and transparency-the complete antithesis of my President. A rarity among OECTA leaders.Wonder what MJ is plotting to do to take over his unit. What I wouldn't do for a real leader like Kent who isn't lead around the nose by MJ etal.

Anonymous said...

David is a man of integrity and transparency too. We are lucky to have this truthful blog. If Oecta can't handle the basic scrutiny of its actions and leadership then members need to ask "Why not?-What are you hiding?" Remember last year's AGM Discipline Committee motions all referred to that special committee? What was the follow through on that action? Were new safeguards on absolute power put into OECTA's Handbook and Bylaws or not?

Anonymous said...

When OECTA plants a newbie in Kent's office he or she will probably get a big raise for helping usurp him and vilify him. "Jack Boots" should be arriving soon if the pattern holds.

Andres Musta said...

'Solidarity' has come to mean many different things to different people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity). I think of Solidarity as a common goal: better working conditions and a culture of social justice, for example, within which there is ample to room for diverse strategies and differing opinions. Solidarity is a shared idea that that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is hope, and a shared prosperity, and there are as many paths to get there as people who walk it. And we are all moving in that direction.

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks for this! Diversity rather than conformity is certainly key!

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