Opening Statement



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

On Bill 115: OECTA -What Was Said?

My Acronym Guide Is @ hErE! ...


Recently, there has been a lot of continuing discussion here on this blogsite. Also in the wider Ontario Teacher Union Movement. Everyone is still all a buzz about the recent successful Ontario Supreme Court Charter Challenge ruling on Bill 115!

The concern, as we await a "remedy" is quite understandable! Our province's CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF members had their Collective Bargaining Rights violated when the government imposed the July 5th 2012 "OECTA MOU [Memo of Understanding] Roadmap" on all of the province's unionized teachers and education workers. Indeed, here is a link to the court verdict, if you are still in doubt @ PDF!

Much discussion has focused on the OECTA Provincial's role in this debacle!  On a go forward basis, CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF members are quite understandably worried and concerned that they were betrayed and stabbed in the back during the 2012-13 collective bargaining talks. Whatever's left of the crushed OECTA dissident movement often seems relieved that at the very least many of their claims and concerns, for which they were so severely denounced, have now been vindicated. Moreover, most of the OECTA retirees I've talked to invariably wag their head in disbelief. They are very dismayed that this is no longer the once proud, staunch Catholic teacher union that we fought so very long and hard to build! 

OECTA's betrayal of the Ontario teacher union movement, through collaborating with the OLP, aided and abetted the government's decidedly anti-union Neo-Lib agenda. It opened the door to contract stripping and concession bargaining! Wages fell below the COA [Cost of Living]! Our sick day plans were gutted! Our sick day banks clawed back for pennies on the dollar! Special education and other classroom cuts became the order of the day! Big biz tax cuts and corporate welfare bailouts were paid for on the back of our provinces students and teachers! On and on the list of despicable acts continues. The Ontario government continues to wrack havoc on decades of hard fought union wins. It's continued through the 2015 CB agreements. Quite possibly into the new talks, as they resume again next year!



So, what exactly did OECTA Provincial do to become the embarrassment and scourge of the Ontario Teacher Union movement? The judge's ruling seems quite clear! OECTA Provincial broke union ranks when they collaborated with the Ontario Liberal Government. In signing the July 5, 2012 OECTA MOU Roadmap, they agreed to contract strips, which the Liberals were then only too happy, with their urging, to illegally impose on CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF, the rest of the province's teacher and education worker affiliates. This was done in gross violation of the other affiliate's collective bargaining rights vis a vis Bill 115, the so called Putting Students First Act, [LINK] in August 2012. Paragraphs 167 and 168, of the court ruling explain: 
[167] On this basis, the OECTA deal is the only remaining comparator on which the justification for the terms of the imposed agreements is said to be founded. A single agreement does not stand in for the comparison on which the determination in Meredith was made. A single agreement is not the same as: “collective agreements inside and outside of the core public administration”. It is not demonstrative of the “going rate” in the “education sector”. It is one agreement dealing with one small component of that sector.
 [168] Moreover, it is not clear the basis upon which the OECTA agreement was negotiated or whether and to what extent those negotiating on behalf of the union involved felt limited by the parameters. Did free and open bargaining take place? What is demonstrated is that Ontario foreclosed the possibility of free bargaining for the rest of the education sector. In a submission to Cabinet made on August 8, 2012 in support of the Putting Students First Act (Bill 115), the Minister stated that “...[t]he government table team also committed to recommend that the OECTA MOU be embedded in legislation”.243 It was the evidence of the Assistant Deputy Minister that OECTA requested that its agreement with Ontario be embedded in legislation and “...the [Ontario] table team consistently committed to make this recommendation”244. This was done without advice to or consultation with any of the remaining bargaining agents. OSSTF submits that this was a secret agreement.245 It does not matter. By agreeing to put the terms of the agreement into legislation, Ontario compromised the possibility of fair and open bargaining with the remaining parts of the education sector.
Moreover, it seems OECTA Provincial clearly acted to have the other affiliates "post retirement benefit" packages stripped from their contracts. Here's a real bone of contention, especially at the union grass root level! Shockingly, these were benefits that OECTA members themselves did not enjoy! Most unfortunately, the public teachers and education workers who did fight so hard for them over the years got no say, as they were ruthlessly stripped away, in gross violation of their Charter Rights! As Paragraph 178 and 179 state; 
[178] Unifor did not take part in the process until late. The parameters did not refer to post- retirement benefits. The members of Unifor (and, before it, CAW) continued to receive health and welfare benefits until death. This benefit had been in place for 40 years. The OECTA MOU provided that after September 1, 2013, no new retirees in the education sector would be eligible for any employer contributions to any post-retirement benefits. 246 The members ofOECTA did not have such rights. Their removal was no concern to them. The benefit was removed by the OECTA deal without warning and without any opportunity for the affected members of the affected union (Unifor) to take part in the negotiations that led to this result.
[179] It is not that these outcomes necessarily demonstrate substantial interference with collective bargaining. Rather, it is inherent in the process that was adopted and confirmed by these results. The defining of the parameters and the limited nature of the discussions concerning their application, the narrowing of discussions that followed the OECTA agreement and the enforcement of those limits through the threat and passage of the Putting Students First Act serve to show that there was substantial interference with the process of collective bargaining such that there was a breach of the freedom of association. The outcomes to which I have referred are examples of the results of this flawed process and serve to substantiate this breach.
Where do we go from here? It seems to be business as usual at OECTA Provincial. Meanwhile, CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF await a "remedy" for their situation, as required by the judge due to the violation of their charter rights outlined in his Bill 115 Charter Challenge verdict. One wonders: Do OECTA members expect any semblance of union solidarity or support when push comes to shove in the next round of contract talks? Do they think OECTA can just go it alone without the other affiliates, in continuing to collaborate Vichy style with the Liberal government? They should be in for a big shock!



Alas! Regardless of our affiliate, all of us, OECTA members included, know you can't trust a rogue union! Meanwhile the Ontario Ministry of Education enjoys the last laugh! Their divide and conquer strategy renders our teacher movement impotent, with an traitorous union in our midst. The Liberals have all but succeeded, with their OECTA partners, to destroy our once strong and proud Ontario teacher union movement! Much more effectively than even Mike Harris and the Tory's ever could! Moreover, they continue to do so, it seems, with an unrepetent Catholic teacher blessing from on high! For shame!

RELATED READING

On Bill 115: Glitches in the Matrix @ Here!

OECTA: On Manufacturing Consent @ HERE!

OECTA's Fall 2012 Bill 115 Members Letter @ HERE!

OECTA: A Vichy Mentality @ HERE!

OECTA: None Dare Call It Betrayal @ HERE!

Canadian Civil Liberties Letter on the Brock Dissident Dismissal @ HERE!

Corporate Tax Cuts Paid For on the Backs of Ontario's Students and Teachers @ Here!

On Teacher Free Speech + Grass Root renewal @ THERE!



COMMENTS: 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something criminal happened behind closed doors between OECTA staff, government staff, OECTA consultants/contractors, and the Ontario Liberal Party and possibly OSSTF staff/politicians of the day. There needs to be a full inquiry to sniff out the offenders.

Kent M said...

Here is what our President Sent out to members today:

Bill 115 Charter Case Update

While Bill 115 was deemed unconstitutional, the decision affects only the parties to the case. It does not apply to OECTA or AEFO as there was a negotiated settlement in place (MoU). For this same reason, OECTA is not party to finding remedy with the government however, if the parties to the court challenge do make financial gains, OECTA will be using the ‘me too’ clause to claim similar improvements for OECTA members.

Knowing the importance of this matter, Chantal will continue to discuss the evolving situation with provincial office.

Here was my response which she has since forwarded on to Provincial :

Under what authority was the MOU negotiated? The PE is chief negotiating agent under the OLRA, however as Chairman Fishbein pointed out, the MOU was negotiated outside the OLRA and therefore does not fall under the jurisdiction of the the OLRA. So again I ask, under what authority did the Provincial Executive negotiate the MOU and offer up our retiree benefits? It remains my steadfast opinion that the MOU was negotiated outside the procedures and bylaws of our Association. When is going to compensate me the $50 000 that we lost out in terms of Board paid retiree benefits?

Although at the GSN workshop that my President allowed me to attend, most of the high muck mucks said "well, you can claim the moral victory, but that's about it."

Still concerned,

Kent M

Anonymous said...

A nice start to fix OECTA's problems would be to have a real Catholic elected as OECTA Provincial President. 92 per cent of OECTA members are Catholic, so why not have a Catholic as Provincial President? Step one in getting rid of the MOU Gang running local units currently.

David Chiarelli said...

Seems to me Catholicity is MIA at OECTA Prov, with or without Anne!

Anonymous said...

The particular Religious denomination of the OECTA President is not important. They need to be a person of faith which Ann is. They need to be elected by a majority of OECTA delegates which she was. They need to be a advocate for Catholic teachers and Catholic education which she is.

It is time that those who keep bringing up these bigoted arguments move on to the real issues.

Anonymous said...

So, why do boards such as the DPCDSB insist that their LTO applicants supply an up to date letter from a Catholic priest before they can accept a position? They demand Catholic teachers in the classroom and it would seem that if this is the case for teachers then it should also be the case for those who profess to lead the teachers. I think it has more to do with hypocrisy rather than bigotry - and optics.

Anonymous said...

Question: Do the members elect the delegates from those who put their names forward or are they hand-picked by the powers that be already holding office at the various locals?

Anonymous said...

This is a real test of the Labour movement as a whole. If the House of Labour (OFL and CLC) do nothing in terms of sanctioning OECTA for its actions they will be complicit in condoning those same actions. The evidence is clear what will the Labour movement do? A house divided against itself cannot stand.

David Chiarelli said...

Provincial AGM? When I was at OECTA TSU members would apply and a rubric of unit involvement + other similar criteria was used by the exec to rank the applications and offer 2 the 1st cut/ then the 2nd etc. It often ended up being controversial, sometimes for good reason, other times perhaps not.

I've heard other units are sometimes less objective and rigorous. At anyrate it's usually pretty much the same crowd that goes to AGM, if only coz they are involved. Not active = you don't go.

Makes sense but can become a closed shop! Not good- IMHO grass root member engagement remains key to a healthy member based and responsive union. OECTA TSU was very good at that back then but can't say anymore, one way or another, as I am now retired...

Anonymous said...

It will take courage to seek and distribute the truth. Have we become afraid of the truth? Thanks David for trying to find it.

See: https://youtu.be/u9Dg-g7t2l4

It is so relevant to this discussion. The breaking of the silence must start from within OECTA, especially COP. Let the truth out because only then can we move and grow in solidarity with the labour movement.

Yours,

Angelo Ippolito
angelo4you@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Well here we are and OECTA one again keeps the status quo and sets the bar in 2017 with a marginal "4%" increase and no recognition of lost gains. Still selling out Ontario teachers.

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