How can we create one province wide teacher and educational support worker union here in Ontario?
While the Wynne government decides how to repair it's flawed, new CB Act  after the latest teacher contract debacle, the province's teachers and education workers certainly have their work cut out for them too! Each of the unions; AEFO, CUPE, ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF included, need to stop merely protecting their own turf and inner cliques. We need now more than ever, to consider the bigger picture together as one!
Divided, and self serving, the different unions have proved largely unable to co-ordinate with any convincing degree of teacher solidarity between affiliates, a credible and effective offensive against the bullying, bashing and questionable OLP deal making frenzy of the past 14 months.
Our union movement cannot continue to be so disorganized and susceptible to such divide and conquer tactics! It's time to begin, as grass root members from all the different affiliates, a discussion that unfortunately in many cases our plutocrats at provincial will not want to hear!
Perhaps you have all ready heard the growing buzz about the need for one big province wide teacher union on the social media? Lots of us have! Sometimes, warning letters and threats of disciplinary action have even all ready been issued for those in a leadership position, however minor, accused of engaging in public discussion of the topic. If anyone at "head office" is overreacting that much, then they must be afraid. But of what and for whom?
Fortunately, your individual teacher free speech comments can be posted anonymously on this blogsite. I don't suspect there are any easy answers for how we could create such a province wide union or what it will look like! However, if anybody would like to share your ideas, for respectful discussion purposes, there's a handy dandy "Comments" section below this blog. Please feel free!
Let me begin with three suppositions, as some basic food for thought:
A STRENGTH TO BUILD ON:
Strength in Numbers: Acting together in solidarity as one provincial union, we could better negotiate and take job actions from a position of strength. We'd benefit as a more powerful, collective force; a united front against the aggressive provincial government scenarios we increasingly face. Be they Rae Dayish NDP, Neo Con Harrisite or Neo Lib Wynne, all of them have been bad news for us; our profession, our students and our schools! The OLP "austerity" agenda, to put it simply, is just more subtle, then the "Common Sense Revolution" or even the "Social Contract". The recent "ultimatum" and it's aftermath shows that we are just in too much danger not to rally our forces! Better late than never!
A THREAT TO AVOID:
Plutocracy: Many of our affiliates are increasingly run by a centralized, executive elite. Often, they are unelected officials yielding most of the resources, calling much of the shots. Could one big province wide union end up remodelling this institutional behaviour into a monolithic behemoth that is even more cut off and unresponsive to it's grass root members?
We need not be scared off! New ideas require new ways of thinking and rebuilding, such that to paraphrase good ol' Buckminister Fuller, we need to create a new model that makes the old one obsolete. How do we set up a new province wide teacher union that is both more democratic and accountable, and with greater possibilities for direct involvement by the membership? Where and how to begin? No easy task!
Granted, the "Catholic issue" will be touchy for supporters and opponents of the publicly funded denominational system alike. I am going to suggest that these and other "particular issues" reflecting the great diversity of teachers, students and schools in our province could be accommodated as a separate part of the individual "political" rather than the greater collective "bargaining" units within each board across the province, until the bigger issue of separate school funding is later sorted out, one way or another, due to the urgency of our task. I might be a bit of a dreamer here, but hopefully I'm not the only one, as how to do that will certainly require a lot more reflection too!
So. If interested, please feel free to add your thoughts below: