Opening Statement



Thursday, 27 August 2015

OSSTF + OECTA Deals: Enough is Enough!

Guest Blog by Wendy Goodes *



Begin Rant: As a "seasoned" or "experienced" teacher, I was very heartened to see our new bargaining slogan of: Bargaining for the future. Respecting our past." It has given me great hope for ETFO. I have done a lot of reflecting on everything that is going on in the bargaining front. The deals reached with both OSSTF and OECTA scare me, to be quite honest. I don't know what is in the OECTA deal, but I would imagine it is probably similar to the OSSTF one.

I have lived through all 3 political parties and their attacks on education worker’s rights. In my opinion, this Liberal government and the one that preceded it are the worst, and this is coming from someone who was a Liberal supporter for 37 years. A big difference I find now is that for a variety of reasons, and I am not saying that they are invalid reasons, the teachers of today are often lacking in the fortitude of the teachers of the past. 

We got angry with Mike Harris, and stood up and fought for our beliefs. I had a young family, and yes it was financially very difficult. The truth is that you don't ever recover financially from being on strike, but as a person you still have your self-respect, dignity, and integrity. You know that you are standing up for what is right. We got angry, we walked, we made gains. We have the very things that we are trying to protect now because we got angry!!!



The media: As a group this year, we have made some gains with our questioning of inaccurate reporting. We have opened the lines of communication with some reporters. We are beginning to get the message out to many in the public. Are we still the targets of many teacher haters? Yes, and we will continue to be until the end of time. Our parents, the ones we work with know the real truth. Since they are in our present lives, maybe that has to be good enough. Don't get me wrong, I will continue to try to educate the public and the media.

The offers: This government is doing nothing but playing us! To have OPSBA put all of those concessions on the table at the beginning of negotiations and leave them there for an entire year before being willing to bend says it all in my opinion. As John Snobelen did, they created a crisis, one that saves them big bucks since nothing will be retroactive to the start of the 2014-2015 school year. All of a sudden, they are willing to, through very tough negotiations, take off the concessions and leave things as status quo! 

Give me a break. This was a well-thought out plan on Kathleen Wynne's part right from the start. Take the strips off the table, and the teachers will think that they have made gains! Sorry folks, but status quo is not a GAIN! Then to offer paltry wage increases that work out to almost nothing, that too is an insult. With all the money this government awards to everyone else, we deserve more; both money and respect. Why should we be happy with that?



As I interact with members of all affiliates on Twitter, I find the same messages coming through. The "seasoned" teachers, and some newer teachers (those that have taken the time to become educated about our history), are angry again about the disrespect shown to us. Unfortunately, I find that the majority of members of all affiliates, are listening to the saying "This is the best we could get." and voting in acceptance of these insulting proposals. 

I am not being critical of any of the negotiating teams, trust me. I know that all of the teams give 150% effort to these negotiations. However, when the memberships don't then stand up and say, "This isn't good enough. Tell the government to forget it. We will go on strike if that is what it takes." The hands of our teams are tied.

The people in this group are educated, do care, and as a whole have the power to educate the rest of our colleagues. It is time to stand up, get angry, and say, enough is enough! Thanks for listening, lol!

End of rant. I do feel somewhat better now!



* Wendy writes: 

Hi David,

I have attached my rally cry rant that came about while I was in the shower after hearing that both OSSTF and OECTA had reached tentative agreements and were withdrawing their work to rule actions.  I don’t get why they would do that until agreements are ratified.  I also don’t get why people will be encouraged to view STATUS QUO as a gain.  I’ve been doing this too long to fall for this, lol!

Do with it whatever you wish.  I hope that it has some effect on some people when they are making a decision.

Wendy Goodes

[Thanks Wendy!!! You have certainly provided us with some food for thought! Dear Readers: Got something interesting and worthwhile to say? Info on Teacher Free Speech Guest Blog Submissions @ Link ]



COMMENTS:

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

OECTA Reaches Tentative Deal!

My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 


Liz: "S'Alrighty! Got another one! Now, about Justin ..."

OECTA Provincial reaches a tentative deal with the MOE OCSTA. WTR is suspended effective immediately @ OECTA

MOE Sandals touts the "net zero" agreement. The deal was reportedly reached at 3 am after a marathon round the clock bargaining session that continued on Monday after 2 days of talks last week @ Toronto Star

No details of the deal have been released. So far Premier Wynne is keeping mum too National Post

OECTA Provincial President Ann Hawkins claims no concessions were made. The deal is similar to the one almost reached last June when OECTA walked away from the table in frustration, after it was removed. The OSSTF deal did not necessarily smooth the way for today's OECTA deal, as the issues were different, according to Ann. MOE Sandals contradicts the union position again, with claims the MOE was never in favour of removing caps on class size or in changing the rules on teacher prep time. The Globe speculates the deal was a move by the provincial OLP to remove a sticking point in assisting the Federal Liberal Oct 19th election campaign @ Globe + Mail

The media continues to focus on the salary issue @ CTV and @ CBC

Zzzzzzzz .... On a roll since the OSSTF deal, the Toronto Sun, of course, continues to beat the war drums over the minimal pay increase, soliciting a barrage of neanderthal teacher bashing Comments from it's neo con readers @ Sun



OECTA President Ann Hawkins: a happy camper!

My Notes: 

This morning OECTA became the second teachers union to announce a surprise deal in CB negotiations, in their case with the MOE and Catholic trustees. Regretfully I am on the road from Tweed Ontario, heading back to Toronto from Land o Lakes. Stopped at Tims for a cafe and to check my email. Surprise!

Links will follow, later. Meanwhile, add Comments, share info and views below, and I will check to post on my way home.....

RELATED LINKS:

OCSTA initial proposal @ Here!

OECTA's initial proposal @ There!

Much more Teacher Summer 2015 News + Views Links @ Here!

Teacher Free Speech 2015 Summer Contract Guide @ There!

COMMENTS:

OSSTF Deal: What They Got!

My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 


OSSTF Prez Paul Elliott: another happy camper!

Well folks, yesterday I was out on Lake Mississaganon, Land o' Lakes, when a little birdie landed on my kayak! Now, as you may or may not know, internet service is spotty at best out that-a-way. We are waaaaaaay off the grid, surrounded by rock, rock and more rock, on the Canadian Shield. Eh?!? Nope, I don't have a satellite dish, no thank yew ... Anyhow, the lil' birdie explained that the following OSSTF Update has been making the rounds online while I've been away! Yup. So. What did OSSTF get in their new contract deal, pending a member ratification vote?!? And how do I know??? Ahem! Well .... I've always wanted to say this: A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME SO!!! Uh huh, the birdie said ......

August 21, 2015 • CB Issue 51 Negotiations Update 

Teachers/Occasional Teachers Central Table Negotiations Update Details of the tentative agreement between OSSTF/FEESO, the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) and the Crown were presented to a meeting of Teacher/Occasional Teacher presidents and chief negotiators this afternoon. 
 
The assembled local leaders voted to endorse the tentative agreement and recommend it for ratification. As a result of this vote, all central strike action is suspended pending ratification of the agreement by Teacher/Occasional Teacher members.  

Overview of the Tentative Agreement

This agreement comes more than a full calendar year after negotiations began. Throughout that year, and through thirty often-frustrating days of negotiations, we successfully defended our collective agreements from unprecedented attacks by the management team. 

In the resulting agreement, there are:
   
• No strips to contract  language
• No change to a variety of targeted clauses, including but not limited to:
o Class  sizes 
o Assigned time 
o Additional Professional Assignments and Student Supervision 
o Extra-degree allowances 
o OT workload 

All of these items continue to be governed by existing clauses in local agreements. 

We did achieve some modest improvements in the following areas:
 
1. Salary

a. No change in 2014/2015  
b. Restoration of full grid movement as of Sept 1, 2015 
c. 1% lump sum payment to all Teacher and Occasional Teacher Bargaining Unit members for the 2015/2016 school year 
d. 1% raise  applied to all grids, wage schedules and Positions of Responsibility as of Sept. 1, 2016
 e. 0.5% applied to all grids, rates and Positions of Responsibility allowances as of 98th day of 2015/2016 school year

2. Family Medical Leave or Critically Ill Child Care Leave Supplemental Employment Benefit to top-up EI 

3. Sick Leave

a. 90% sick leave days increased from a maximum 60 day entitlement to a maximum 120 days for Long Term Occasional Teachers 
b. Adoption of a standardized medical form with limits placed on management’s access to medical information 
c. Expanded definition of sick leave to include personal medical or dental  appointments 

4. Teacher Professional Judgement

a. The inclusion of a definition of teacher Professional Judgement (as per “Growing Success” document) and recognition of its application to assessment, evaluation and reporting 
b. Teachers will be consulted regarding any changes to students’ marks or grades 

5. Hiatus on new Ministry initiatives until May 31, 2016 

6. One additional P.A. day within the current length of school year 

7. Benefits

a. Memo on movement to a union self-run provincial benefits plan with funding guaranteed at 2014/2015 levels with a 4% inflationary adjustment for 2015/2016 and an additional 4% inflationary adjustment for 2016/2017. 
b. An additional $300/FTE for benefits funding once bargaining units move to the provincial plan 
c. A clause providing for further benefits funding to match any increases achieved by the other affiliates

Membership meetings will be scheduled in each District in September, where the full details of the agreement will be provided. Each bargaining unit’s ratification process will be outlined by local leaders.  

Support Staff Central Table Negotiations Update  

As noted in CB Issue 50, further bargaining dates for the Support Staff central bargaining table have been scheduled for August 28 and September 23, 24 and 25. On Saturday, August 22, a meeting of Support Staff local leaders in attendance at Leadership 2015 will take place to discuss next steps in light of recent developments.  

PS: Underlining by a little fishie ..... glub .... glub .... glub .....

"Hey!!! Get Off my kayak you .... you .... you little fishie!!!!! You too Ms Birdie!!!"


Thinks to himself: "Why o' why will nobody play "bumper boats" with me anymore?!? Sigh! Alas! ...."

RELATED LINKS:

OPSBA initial proposal @ OPSBA

Much more Teacher Summer 2015 News + Views Links @ Here!

Teacher Free Speech 2015 Summer Contract Guide @ There!

COMMENTS: 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

OSSTF Reaches Tentative Deal!

Latest additions added in LARGE TYPE.  My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 



OSSTF has reached a tentative deal after a marathon 24 hour return to the bargaining table session. The contract terms remain under wrap until the local leaders meet later this week, with a member ratification process expected to extend into mid September. OECTA is currently also at the negotiating table, with ETFO scheduled to return September 1st. OSSTF's Facebook media release is @ OSSTF

Here are the initial news reports from: 

MOE Sandals and OSSTF President Elliott are quoted @ CBC

Premier Wynne reacts @ 680

OPSBA Chair Michael Barrett considers the deal a "good step forward" but claims there is still "a lot of road to travel" @ Globe

CTV breaking news video begins the day with the story and an overview of where the other Ontario teacher unions are at @ CTV

More general overviews @ Star @ MacLeans @ National Post @ CP

OSSTF President Elliot is expected to have more to say during his "state of the union address" from the Westin Hotel in Ottawa later today @ Ottawa Citizen

Sam Hammond announces ETFO's fall WTR strategy via "live stream" [Site] with a frustrating delay verses the "live CP24 broadcast" on TV. A live stream twitter feed on the ETFO site helped facilitate the process. It seems our official union communications department are still struggling with the timely, effective use of social media, IMHO a setback from Liza M's excellent coverage during 2012-13.

Sam stuck to a hard line despite OSSTF stealing his thunder with the announcement of the tentative deal earlier in the day. Like OSSTF Paul Elliott, he stressed the difficulty of working with the OPSBA management mindset and the ETFO's frustration with the MOE stalling tactics. A copy of ETFO WTR Phase 2 was posted immediately online [but not by me!], and can be seen for info and discussion purposes on my blog below. Phase 1 and Phase 1 Update also remain in effect. See links on my blog.

Paul Elliott's address stresses difficult process with lots of roadblocks thrown in the teacher unions' way. The OPSBA management mindset remains. Local contracts still have to be settled. Special emphasis is given to the support workers. Much of the speech then focused on fighting Harper in the federal election. It was covered by OSSTF Communications with live tweets, a good early start at officially using the social media, but limited and guarded at best @ Elliott Live video coverage @ Here!

Deal apparently includes a small raise and removal of class caps taken off table @ Star

RELATED LINKS:

OPSBA initial proposal @ OPSBA

Much more Teacher Summer 2015 News + Views Links @ Here!

Teacher Free Speech 2015 Summer Contract Guide @ There!

COMMENTS?

ETFO WTR Phase 2 Released!

The following was soon being shared online via the social media and is now also provided on this site for teacher free speech information and discussion purposes!
ETFO has also posted it on their own site @ Read!


Previous ETFO WTR measures also remain in effect! See with ETFO WTR Phase 1 @ Here! and Update @ Here!

Note: Voluntary teacher EC's will not be restricted unless CB talks take a turn for the worse @ Star

The focus on an administrative WTR is maintained. Board BIPSA [Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement] bites the dust, but student SIPSA's [Student Improvement Plans] remain exempt. Board PD goes kaput but WHMIS, Sabrina's Law + first Aid training are exempted. It is highly commendable that EC life skill activities for special need students will not be affected. Some parents might be upset that "Open House" and "Meet the Teacher" nights are cancelled. However one assumes that they can still contact the teacher during the course of the regular school day, which truth be told is a more effective form of communications anyway.



RELATED:

Sam Hammond's "Fight" Speech @ Link!

OECTA WTR takes effect today! See the list of measures @ OECTA 

Teacher Free Speech Summer 2015 Contract Guide @ Here!

More Teacher Summer News + Views Links @ Here!

COMMENTS:

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On ETFO Sam Hammond's "Fight" Speech!



President Sam Hammond has delivered a barn burner of an opening speech at ETFO AGM 2015. He hit all the right buttons reinforcing this year's "Bargaining for the Future, Respecting Our Past" AGM theme. He warned that should the same key concession demands be made again, the province can expect the "fight of their lives". You can see and hear Sam's speech for yourself @ Hammond

Although ETFO has accepted the Premier's special invitation to return to the CB table, there is quite appreciably no extra hurry, after endless months of government stalling. So, what me worry?!? Is everything A-OK, as September quickly approaches and classes are set to resume?

ETFO CB talks resume September 1st. In more haste, OSSTF returns to the table this week, while OECTA will begin a second set of talks. Previously, all 3 unions had quite pointedly walked out in frustration! Indeed, both ETFO and OSSTF had stressed that the OPSBA's regressive, concession bargaining demands had to be removed before the talks could resume. 

Sam Hammond's messaging provides us with some reassurance in that he clearly asserts ETFO is not about to fold or "back down". He has the ETFO member's back and they have his. However, one must hope that nobody else in the Ontario teacher union movement breaks ranks either! 




Wynne is him? Been there! Done that! Different times? How so?

While "respecting the past", we are also mindful of FWTAO's [Federation of Women Teachers of Ontario Association] "Benedict Arnold" betrayal during the 1997 province wide "We Won't Back Down" teacher strike. Caution and vigilance need also be exercised against allowing the MOE to make a "divide and conquer" side deal again with another union partner, as happened with the July 5 2012 surprise OECTA MOU! [See]

ETFO's WTR strategy remains steady as she goes, with more details expected on August 20th. On the 20th, OECTA will also finally be in a strike position, with a rigorous WTR plan ready to be put into place as classes resume [Link]. AEFO and CUPE can soon be expected to launch fall job actions as well. 

It is demonstrably prudent for the teacher and education support staff unions to escalate their next strike plans carefully. As OSSTF's Magnificent 7 spring strike strategy [Link] clearly revealed, the Wynne government is demonstrably been much more liable to legislate teachers back to work rather than than try to seriously negotiate the contentious contract issues at the CB table. And to the best of my knowledge, the 2012-2013 ETFO OLRB mandatory EC case is still outstanding, with Judge Fishbein's verdict still on hold. [Link]

Regretfully, Sam Hammond's "Fight of their Lives" pledge is all fine and dandy, of course. That is until the Liberal game playing leads the teachers to full walk out strikes that they then legislate back to work again. So what will ETFO and the other unions do? Politely complain and return to class? That has been the past practice unless one looks back to the 1970's, when our teacher unions were not afraid to exercise civil disobedience, even ultimately resigning in mass to force Premier Davis' hand over issues like prep time and the right to strike. 

Are today's teachers prepared to play hardball to protect our past hard fought rights and gains? Alas, there isn't any teacher shortage to make Wynne take the ethical route. Perhaps she will now be prepared to remove her apparent disguise and finish the Mike Harris Common Sense revolution when it comes to the province's teacher unions? No matter. Resigning in mass no longer seems to be a civil disobedience option anyway. 



All smiles! Premier Bill Davis was a good sport but only after teachers stared him down! 

Different times require different options. Can you imagine our union leadership leading the civil disobedience charge on their own accord? I doubt it. Our homework as teacher free speech advocates might well be to consider what "we the Ontario teachers" can do instead of just throwing in the towel in light of our current reality, and argue and forward the case accordingly. 

True, as with the BC teachers, the courts might arguably be more understanding in ultimately supporting our teacher union positions away from the contract table. However, that could take many years during which the Ontario teacher union movement would suffer a major set back plunging us back decades into the past for the foreseeable future. 

Cautious, concerned and vigilant teacher activists need to be able to dare to step outside the box in our thinking, questioning and discussing where the Ontario teacher movement goes next! Sam Hammond's speech is certainly fortifying. However, reasonably speaking, it would be foolish not to expect that the next few weeks or even months will be much more complicated than putting the MOE and trustees on notice of the union's commitment and member solidarity. So too the outcome of the different unions varied WTR and walk out strike strategies as proclaimed since last June. 

Eyeball to eyeball, like during the 1970's or 90's, might we well soon arrive at a point where it all boils down to a question of who will blink first? The teachers or the province? Despite all the fine words will our Ontario teacher unions roll over and play dead when the province pulls out the big legislative guns as push comes to shove? What impact will the tight Federal election race, with the Conservatives currently leading in our province, possibly have? Would it behove the Premier to out con the Conservative vote by crushing the teacher protests? Or would she rather appease us to try avoid an army of teachers working to elect a federal NDP government? We live in interesting times indeed!

Methinks I've asked more questions than I have answered with this blog dear reader, so please feel free to add your own Comments below!



Additional Reading

ETFO: Teaching + Union historical timeline from 1900 @ ETFO

ETFO announces Phase 2 of it's WTR measures @ Here!

OPSBA initial proposal is @ OPSBA

Teacher Free Speech Summer 2015 Contract Guide @ Here!

More Teacher Summer News + Views Links @ Here!

COMMENTS:

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

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Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

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Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

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