Opening Statement



Monday, 30 March 2015

Lack of TCDSB Union Consultation: A Chronology of Events!

My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! Edit, Artwork to be added!



TCDSB: Why?!?


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.



 MARCH 26
 
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.

Signatures added: OECT TSU -TECT -TOTL/ CUPE 1280, 1328, 3155, APSSPE


TCDSB Savings: MOE's 30 pieces of silver in Canadian dollars?

COMMENTS:

Monday, 23 March 2015

TCD$B Deficit: The Local Union Leaders Letter!

My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 



TCDSB Song + Dance Over Missing Budget Deficit Details Continues!

I'm glad to independently share this joint letter with my readers for your erudition. The TCDSB is notorious for its lack of openness, transparency and accountability despite it's funding on the public dime. "Consultation" is not really a word in their vocabulary, as the letter below amply points out. In addition, the TCDSB's attitude towards its teachers and staff are anything but Catholic, as seen by it's blatant disregard for it's community of concerned workers. The public should be aware of the real situation faced below by our TCDSB colleagues in the union movement, in light of the TCDSB's "budget deficit" which you will be reading a lot about in the mainstream news during the week[s] ahead. Here's the letter:

March 23, 2015

Dear Colleague,

Amidst these very difficult and trying financial times in our Board, we hope that you were able to find time to rest and replenish over the March break.

This letter is signed by the leaders of the 7 union locals of the TCDSB representing over 10,000 unionized education workers and is being sent to all the members of each respective local.

By now you are aware of the fact that the TCDSB is in a deficit budget position and has been debating how to deal with the challenges this presents.

Your executive and executive members of each of the respective union locals, have attended regular Board meetings, several Board Committee meetings and several “consultation” meetings with senior staff and trustees.  Throughout, we have tried to seek answers and resolutions to deal with both the Board’s in-year structural deficit and the Board’s accumulated debt on a go-forward basis.  Regretfully these sessions have not been as productive as we would have wished.  While having been given some information, we have not been provided with the necessary and requested information in a timely manner that would allow us to fully and effectively engage in informed consultation.

At the March 12 Corporate Affairs meeting, the report to be discussed, suggesting prioritization for cuts, was only posted on-line 2 hours before the start of the meeting - hardly enough time for any of the stakeholders to prepare an adequate response or to present feedback at that committee meeting.

Later in the meeting on March 12, the Board of Trustees voted to limit the opportunity for educational workers unions and parent groups from addressing the Board and Committees.  We object strongly to this silencing!


All the unionized worker groups have been working together with Board staff and the trustees in good faith to find the least destructive course of action and to remove timeline barriers to allow for a more fulsome discussion on how best to deal with the Board’s financial shortfall.  As major stakeholders, our hope throughout has been to provide input and solutions that would have the least impact on student learning and student outcomes.  Regrettably, the majority of the voting members of the Board of Trustees has decided they no longer need to hear from those who are closest to the needs and most affected by any budget cuts.

Senior management intends to visit all worksites to message to the members directly.  We have asked to have a schedule of the senior management visits to worksites in order that we may attend and observe.  The Board has denied our request.

Therefore, since we cannot speak to our members with senior staff present, and since we cannot speak directly to the Trustees any further, we need to express our concerns directly.  The next decision-making meeting by the Board is Thursday March 26 at the CEC, 80 Sheppard Ave. East.  We encourage all members to attend to express your concern visibly if we cannot express it verbally.  Please be there by 6:30 p.m. to meet with your union representatives.

At the same time, we would take this opportunity to remind everyone to contact their MPP to express your concern over potential education cuts.  Let your MPP know that as a constituent in their riding, you are upset.  Find a map for your riding here:

As well, you may wish to contact the Toronto trustee for the ward in which you live to express your concerns as a Catholic ratepayer in the city.  Trustees can be found at: https://www.tcdsb.org/Board/aboutus/Pages/default.aspx

In solidarity;


Mario Bernardo
President, OECTA-TECT

Maria Teresa Luiz 
Treasurer, CUPE 3155

Julian Farinha
President, CUPE 1280

Julie Mazzuca-Peter
President, APSSP

Lina Naccarato
President, CUPE 1328

Felix Salazar
President, OECTA-TOTL

Dave Szollosy
President, OECTA-TSU

FURTHER READING



The TCDSB's Heavy Handed Consultation Process Leaves Much To Be Desired!

My monthly Teacher Free Speech News and Views blogs document and provide news links for the TCDSB budget deficit story, the mystery of the GSN's and OECTA TSU/ TECT'S attempts to get their concerns properly addressed, under TEACHER + UNION @ [Jan] [Feb] [March

Here's a handy guide to Bill 122, the new 2014 Collective Bargaining Act. It looks at it's possible impact on the Catholic boards @ CBA

Is it a co-incidence that the TCDSB's "mystery deficit" is announced without accounting details just as the board is entering contract negotiations with the teachers and staff? See the Catholic trustees' "MOU Part 2" initial contract offer to the OECTA teachers @ [OCSTA]

In God we trust? TCDSB previous hanky panky with the terms of the OECTA MOU Sick Day Plan resulted in teachers being left stuck on unpaid medical leaves @ Sick Daze

OECTA's MOU clauses concerning the  Catholic trustees' "Unfair Hire" practices [read nepotism] and complete disregard for "Teacher Professionalism" judgement resulted from OCSTA's past practice and heavy handed bargaining tactics and demands @ 2012 MOU!

COMMENTS:

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Spring Blog Update!

Updated March 24th!



Hello cyber-landers!

Please note: Some possible relief! In more ways than one! This blog is mostly for those of you who aren't just interested in the teacher contract postings! Plus, after the longest, coldest winter on record, spring finally arrives as of 6:45 pm EST today! Whew! It will be great to finally emerge from hibernating in my man cave here in Toronto Canada. And so, some notes on my future directions in blogging at this site, that is; where are we headed next?

Recently, I've focused a lot on the Ontario teacher contract negotiations. There's my blog on Free Speech and Grass Root Renewal [Here]. The initial contract offers [OECTA][OCSTA][OPSBA]. More info will definitely follow, including a new Spring Contract Guide blog!

I've highlighted the concerns with OECTA AGM 2015 [AGM]. Unfortunately, the members political bed has been made. Now you must sleep in it. Quite frankly, OECTA is royally screwed as far as being a member based organization goes. There really is no nice way to put it! However, if you have that much trust and confidence in OECTA's ability to still negotiate your next contract, then so be it. Ditto the other affiliates if they still feel the love

It's beyond me how OECTA's union practices can be tolerated, considering the track record past and present, especially with all that is now at stake but -good luck! The new generation of teachers have no idea of what's been lost, in more ways than one! However, this debacle is no longer my fight. Fortunately I am retired. Deal with it or don't! Your Comments are always welcome! But my own focus and energy are moving on ..... this is just too depressing!



Go snow! Go!

My monthly all affiliate Teacher Free Speech News and Views blogs [Jan] [Feb] [March] remain very popular and well read. They will continue as a "catch all" location for teacher, school, union, party politics, national and world news and entertainment etc. etc. etc. from a progressive, Canadian perspective. There will still, of course, also be separate blogs on different issues of interest. However, there's much, much more of interest than OECTA, OECTA, OECTA ..... and teacher contracts! But if you have another interesting teacher perspective that we should consider, well, guest blogs of course, are always welcome! [Here]

In Other News: This blogsite will very shortly reach 600,000 reader visits. During the past year, there has been about a 50% turnover in my readership. About 55% are male. Most readers are between 20 to 55 years old, the largest group being aged 20-35. A large proportion are now from the US and Europe with an interest in our union movement; it's organization, media and political strategy. In many ways we have done quite well. However, a lot of the reader interest also seems to be on the many other regular features on my site. Here are some topics you can look forward to:

The 2015 Federal Election: Prime Minister Harper's neo cons have got to go! [HereI plan on working the next election, with blogs to follow. Canada heads to the polls in October, though there are some rumours that the election might be called earlier than that. More details forthcoming. Stay tuned!



Back to Cuba!

Cuba, Cuba and more Cuba: Why oh why did I come back early from the warmth of the sun, sand and sea to the dead cold of a Canadian winter?!? [Last Trip] Alas. Retirement is still new too me. Perhaps with time I will eventually better get my timing right. 

There will be the promised update on the Cuban schools. [CSP] Also a report on the reactions I've encountered there toward the much touted normalization of relations with the US, and so on. I've decided to return to Cuba very soon. Just to hang out in Santiago de Cuba. Visit the teachers. The schools. Enjoy some sun by the pool. The fiestas at night. Then I can tell you more. Important work, so someones got to do it! Might as well be me!

With so much time on my hands and so little reason to go outside this winter, I finally managed to clean out the deepest corners of my closet. As you might guess, I found a whole box of stories, poems, journals, photos, memorabilia from my past travels to Cuba, mostly from the 1990's. So far I have published two short stories here; Christmas In Cuba [Here] and On the Road In Cuba [Here] about the early days of the Cuban School Project. Cuba and the Night is still being posted.[#1][#2][#3] There is still a lot more, including a short novel, A La Habana! [Excerpt], which I might work on at the trailer over the summer. 


Cuba seems to be of great timely, topical interest as of late. It's strange to cannibalize my own writing. Whats still good? How to frame it? The story, in my mind, is still all about "engagement", a major difference in how Canada, unlike the US has approached Cuba. In my experience that's been through the Cuban School Project which I started and continue to direct. I will try to be careful not to get too long in the tooth. Cuba truly is an enigma. I want to show both the pros and the cons of what has and still is happening to try to provide some meaningful insights and to do the story any justice!

I am considering adding a "donations link" for my Cuban School Project [CSP] but so far have resisted any commercialization whatsoever on my site. The focus of the education relief work has always been "Made in Cuba". It is carried out in a direct hands on manner, by myself working with the Cuban teachers and students sans any outside influences, so as to maintain it's integrity. Fortunately, it has proven very successful, against all odds and the work is still ongoing. It's very professionally rewarding, much more so than even my teaching career here in Canada. I want to keep it that way, so I still haven't decided how I will proceed with fund raising. Any tips on possible donations or grants would be much appreciated!

BTW: OECTA TSU recently donated $400 to the "Toronto Friendship School" and the next edition of our Ingles Para Ti  workbook. Many thanks from the students and staffs at the Cuban schools! As educators, we can make a difference!



You might've noticed that "Kulture Kult Ink" is the url for my site, not "tsu3rdvp" anymore. It reflects my current interests and reality in the broadest sense. Bob Marley and the Beatles are still on tap. Expect a lot more music, movie, television reviews etc. etc. etc. I am toying with the idea of also setting up an online radio and a t.v. station, if you will, for more of an audio visual experience. The internet has made "Manufacturing Dis-consent" a very viable option to challenge our political, social, cultural and economic assumptions and the staus quo. I will want to explore that a lot further in the daze ahead beyond just the union scope.

My Twitter account [davidchiarelli] continues to provide frequent new links and the like. Kulture Kults Klassik Lp o' the Day is a new feature with lots of music and video links to brighten up your day. I will keep it esoteric. Never a dull moment. Subscribe! Check that out too!

Remember, you can Comment below each blog in our open forum discussions. And your Teacher Free Speech News Link Archive 2011-15 is located for your convenience at the top left column on your screen. I dare say it's become quite an interesting and worthwhile research tool. My tweets direct you to backgrounder links of current interest. You might also want to just go take a gander and explore the archive yourself.

In Solidarity!

David C


COMMENTS:

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

OECTA: On Manufacturing Consent!

My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here!  



How to grow mushrooms? Don't let this be you!

It is horrific that OECTAs once well respected union principles were subverted so decisively at this weekend's 2015 AGM! These are especially dark times for those of us who fought so hard during the Harris Years. We dreamed of a strong representative Catholic teacher union for all of our members -not just some! We had hoped for better! Alas, for now, it is not to be!

Instead, we see a particularly hideous and repulsive casebook study. It demonstrates how to manufacture consent for a new and very powerful union partisan elite. It was a long time coming. It's strangle hold on the OECTA levers of power has been consolidated and is now complete!

Since 2012, OECTA has been deeply involved in the decidedly un-union act of "concession bargaining". However, now the executive decision making and control is firmly in the hands of a ruling un-elected "expert elite". They are propped up by a minion executive. A compromised COP. Add new, "mushroom head" AGM largely kept in the dark and fed shit. 

The final stages of this OECTA power coup d'etat are now complete!  OECTA has severed the final links of transparency, accountability and representation with it's rank and file grass root members. The grass roots have been neutralized and neutered. They are now only around to pay the bills for fat cat union fee increases. Improve their terms of employment. Vieing for special consideration in OECTA's contract talks as they march into the Orwellian years ahead!



In George Orwell's "Animal Farm", all the animal workers were equal, only some more so than others. Even the casual observer of the politics at OECTA AGM 2015 will wince at the heavy handed tactics used to grab more power for the struggling pro MOU forces! Did delegates sell out their union principles to get on the anointed "more equal" side? To therefore make sure a Jarvis-O'Dwyer-Hawkins triad finally won the day? It was not a pretty sight!

Pro MOU'er and 1st VP incumbent Ann Hawkins only narrowly defeated former OECTA TSU President and MOU opponent Rene Jansen to become the next provincial president, by a vote of 330 to 311. True the final tally shows that OECTA was very much a house divided, between those units who are "onside" with the new ruling elite, and those who are not. But no matter! Ann won. There is little to suggest that the fight for the greater balance of power with the remaining positions on the provincial executive was to be fought and won on an even playing field!

Regretfully, delegates learnt Saturday that 4 of the opposition candidates had resigned from the election race. An absurd, imposed OECTA "Cone of Silence" stops us from learning the reasons why! Maybe because the resignations were announced at the February COP meeting? Was that, like most COP meetings, held "in camera"? If so, the reasons are "off the record" and can't be shared! Bizarre! [Here]

There is the "letter of the law". Then there's the "spirit of the law". That's a blatant, subversion of justice that prevails on a technicality, with the very democratic nature of the election process and authority of the AGM assembly at stake! Instead of an election, the remaining candidates were all acclaimed, showing what a ridiculous clown show the OECTA Provincial election process has become!

Could that the same COP meeting also have approved an un-elected Personnel Committee decision to renew the top dog general secretary contract? Even though, following the usual process, it had been voted down by the duly elected OECTA provincial executive? Since the proceedings were "in camera" nobody could say "boo" without the fear of lost membership rights and privileges. So we might never know! 



Does that seem to much like a coup d' etat? As such unlikely to happen at the OECTA we once thought we knew and loved so well? Well, the OECTA expert elite executive and secretariat chess piece are now all firmly in place, with a decidedly pro 2012 MOU slant, for the current provincial Collective Bargaining talks! The next task then becomes manufacturing consent to consolidate it's authority despite what is otherwise a very suspicious power grab at best! 

The process began in earnest with great fanfare when Minister of Education [MOE] Liz Sandals arrived for her visit to the assembly! Delegates were invited to be a part of a greater cause against a familiar union demon, which the new power elite could now use to bring the membership back within the fold. The delegates were told to be dead silent for her arrival and speech. They then joined in a rousing chorus of that old union chestnut "Solidarity Forever" as she left. The excited delegates must've felt very empowered as a part of something bigger, with our expert elite now very conveniently leading the way! 

Regretfully, memories are far too short. My Teacher Free Speech Archive from March to July 2012 can help recall that the same MOE protest ploy was used at the March 2012 AGM. [HereWhere did it lead? In late June, President O'Dwyer, now the Contract Services Officer on the current OECTA provincial negotiating team [Here], denied OSSTF and ETFO's claim that a "secret deal" was imminent. [Yes][No] Then surprise! On July 5th, the OECTA MOU was ratified by OECTA provincial on the members behalf, in our absence, after we had all ready left for our summer holidays! [Here]



Might OECTA members rest assured that they are guaranteed a vote on the next MOU deal as OECTA provincial is so proud to point out? Is that any reassurance for OSSTF, ETFO and CUPE that more OECTA caution and reason will prevail? After the awful MOU debacle emboldened the OLP to rashly force the August 2012 Bill 115 OECTA "Road map" upon them? [HereRegardless of how power drunk OECTA got last round on the heady promises at the bottom of their OLP "red kool aid" wine glass?

All are highly unlikely for a number of reasons. Let's consider what has happened with the quite reasonable internal dissent over the unfair and uneven representation resulting from the 2012 MOU. The archive is rife with examples of OECTA's efforts to manufacture consent by isolating, and making scary examples of those who don't go along with the status quo! They were invariably crushed with extreme prejudice by OECTA even without its new virtually unlimited powers. As the December 2013 Teacher Free Speech News Archive shows, OECTA did not hesitate diabolically using Bill 115 against it's own members to prevent them from having their complaints heard by the OLRB! [Here] [Halton] [Sudbury] [Metro 7]

Doubt not; it's still open season on OECTA dissidents! We can again look in the archive for many examples of OECTA manufacturing consent to isolate, and set negative examples of those who don't go along with the status quo! Check out the November 2013 "Ask Angelo" questions [Here] [Here] and Feb 2014 Canadian Civil Liberty letter blogs. [HereThey concern "dismissed" former Halton Elementary President and MOU dissident Richard "Bad Boy" Brock who publicly spoke out against the contract for lack of fair representation when his members needs were being repeatedly ignored! [Here] [Here]



How was an appointed Discipline Committee ever allowed to remove a duly elected union president? [HereWhy have we never learnt the answers to the many letters and questions? [Here] [HereWhy was everything but the kitchen sink thrown at Richard afterwards by provincial? Even though it had nothing to do with his case? Is it related to the gag order silencing him from now pursuing or discussing the matter further?

Unfortunately, nothing has changed! Even as OECTA's coup d'etat unfolded this weekend, Twitter was rife with frustrated and disenfranchised OECTA members who feel they can't get their concerns otherwise properly addressed. Membership fees continue to be readily used to issue "cease and desist orders" to shut them up. Reporters are sniffing around, so far unsuccessfully, trying to get victim statements about the increasingly dictatorial like actions, behaviour and the prevailing OECTA "Culture of Fear" [Here]. None of it is very encouraging if the goal is still truly justice for all members! Far from it!



It would be very foolish to think that the new OECTA tiger has changed stripes! The OECTA AGM 2015 backdrop for manufacturing consent, beside the recycled MOE "Solidarity Forever" strategy, was the initial contract offer. [Here] A realistic appraisal is that it shows quite clearly OECTA is willing to allow the Liberal government to consolidate the bargaining concessions from 2012 as the new status quo. Not status quo plus, as was OECTA's CB mantra in years past. Provincial bargaining also trumps local, another now forgotten key OECTA CB tenet. Lost sick days? Gratuities? The appetite for the good fight has once again seemingly given way to a Vichy mentality of co-option and appeasement! [VichyPossibly secret side deals too? Or whatever table scraps the OLP will toss OECTA's way?

OECTA wasted no time at AGM 2015 pursuing it's manufacturing consent agenda for the new power elite! No motions were passed on the first day of the assembly. What was the real order of business? Outgoing President James Ryan speech encouraged the delegates to become "OECTA activists" in defining the struggle against OCSTA's particularly vile and nasty initial contract proposal [Here]. Leave it to the Catholic trustees for a vile, loathsome and odious, first class devil of an offer to rally the troops. For them, the 2012 MOU is but a start, to building further upon, with the MOE's tacit, strategic support, for now anyway. Although nobody at OECTA would want that of course, especially James, it provides a handy tool for jump starting, rallying and continuing the teacher protest for many many months to come! Was it any coincidence that offer was distributed to the members first in a separate letter?

In contrast, OECTA's initial offer is a big improvement over the trustees', though not the 2012 OECTA MOU which it little challenges. Will the members now rally around OECTA Provincial, defacto ratifying the original much despised 2012 MOU bargaining concessions with their proud, newly granted FTE contract vote [Here!]? Instead of the less palatable offered by the trustees? Complete the unfinished business of 2012? Give the Liberals what they wanted on a platter; happily, signed, sealed, and delivered in but another ongoing and unseemly comprimise of union principles? With a thankful membership, reunited in a struggle against the less palatable trustee offer? fight that they might win?



Set ones standards low enough, and who knows, anything is possible! The irony is truly frightening! Also consider this: Speak out? Don't join the fight? Then are you arguably helping the boards? Or the MOE? Choose your devil! It's ripe for vacuous statements like the MOE "Solidarity Forever" visit strategy. 

Most members will find it hard to argue or resist! If so? Demonize too! Any pressing and persistant dissent? Continue to stomp out! Gag! Silence! And keep following the formula for growing mushrooms too: keep them in the dark information wise! Keep feeding them BS!  

 We retirees are relatively lucky despite our dashed OECTA hopes and dreams. Our gratuities were grandfathered. Cashed in without depreciation through inflation. We can still remember the lost sick days, benefits, working conditions and salary gains we fought so hard for with our blood sweat and tears. We remember a meaningful, active and direct hands on grass root struggle. Our open forum discussions on the early "Education Network of Ontario" [ENO] teacher "intranet". Information readily exchanged and shared, a hallmark of our vital, representative teacher union movement. Rather than our union manufacturing consent to pad the wallets and save the sorry ass of our new OECTA expert elite.

Much of the basic respect I had for our teacher unions has now been lost. From here on in, I suspect there will be a new but not a better way of doing business, no thank you. Our new teachers will have to someday rise to fight the good fight too, all over again, for themselves if they want what we once had. They won't be able to ride our coattails for very much longer. 

I, for my part, am happy with my Chomsky and Che. Will perhaps also add a refresher on 1984 and Brave New World to my retirement night time, cottage country or beach reading list. Despite or perhaps because of my reservations with the new status quo, I plan to continue my Teacher Free Speech archives and blog site in your service for as long as I have readers. Looking for new ways to explore manufacturing dis-consent as a counterweight via the new electronic media. And I will continue to believe that we can and should participate more meaningfully in a member orientated teacher union movement, with free and open information, not this manipulative crap that most unfortunately passes for informed leadership and union involvement today. 

In solidarity!

David C

PSST! OSSTF + ETFO readers: This blog is heavy on criticism of OECTA but I'll bet your affiliates have bought into a lot of the same BS too. It will be very interesting to read and post your initial contract proposals too. And see how your unions proceed from here!



RELATED READING

Why you need a teacher union @ Here!

Teacher Free Speech and Grass Root Renewal @ There!

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal @ There!

Guest Blog: An OECTA Member Bill of Rights @ There!

Guest Blog: OECTA Disenfranchised Teacher Petition @ There!

OECTA Neo Real: The 2012 MOU @ There!

OECTA Coup D'Etat @ There!

Democracy in our Unions: Electronic Voting? @ Here!

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