August 13, 2014 - Vol. 3 No.
Teachers Recognize the Need to
for Challenging Negotiations
• Teachers Recognize the Need to Prepare for
• Important Issues Facing Elementary Teachers
- Laura Chesnik
• BC Teachers Receive Widespread Support from
• University of Windsor Faculty Oppose Imposed
• Conditions Set for Crisis to Deepen
- Dan Cerri
Justice for Injured
• Scrap the New Benefit Policies! No to
- Christine Nugent
• Note to
Teachers Hold Annual General Meeting
Teachers Recognize the Need to Prepare for
Toronto, August 11,
2014. Delegates open the
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario's Annual
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is
holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) from August 11-14 in Toronto.
There are 640
delegates from across the province participating.
ETFO represents 76,000 English public elementary school
teachers and Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE), Professional
(PSP) and Education Support Personnel (ESP) across Ontario.
The AGM opened with an address by ETFO president Sam
Hammond. In his remarks Hammond outlined his views on the major
victories for ETFO in
the last year.
In speaking to the significance of the provincial
election results, Hammond emphasized that the union contributed greatly
to defeating Tim Hudak, stating
that this involved in many of the ridings across Ontario supporting
Liberals, even though it had been less than two years since Bill 115
was imposed. He said
that after much debate and discussion with members the union executive
decided that the risks of a Hudak government were too great.
He highlighted the broad unity of teacher and education
worker affiliate unions surrounding the amendments they wanted to Bill
122, the School Boards
Collective Bargaining Act, most of which were incorporated into the
legislation that was eventually passed.
He emphasized the role that ETFO delegates played in
electing CLC President Hassan Yussuf as a victory for the union.
Hammond also highlighted the
importance of ETFO's donation to the British Columbia Teachers'
Federation (BCTF) of $1 million dollars as a way to send a message to
the BC government
that its attacks on the BCTF are unacceptable. Discussing what the
coming negotiations will hold Hammond indicated that under the new
will be challenging, however the union is ready. The first meeting with
the government and school boards' representatives will take place on
Also addressing the General Meeting are: Hassan Yussuf,
president of the Canadian Labour Congress, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath,
Kathleen Wynne, as well as Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF) president
Julie Pauletig, Canadian Teachers' Federation president Dianne
Woloschuk and Diane
Redsky, project director of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and
Girls in Canada (Canadian Women's Foundation).
It is of note that a significant number of resolutions
put forward for discussion by ETFO Locals concern the issue of
decision-making for the purpose of
ratifying local and provincial collective agreements, given that
provincial bargaining has been legislated for teachers and education
workers by the Liberal
government. The motions reflect the stand of members to ensure that
local decision making is not usurped through provincial bargaining
legislation that was
imposed on the sector for the coming round of negotiations. Such
concern comes out of the experience of the fight against Bill 115 in
which the province
usurped the powers of local school boards as well as local unions and
August 13, 2014. Premier
Kathleen Wynne held a question and answer session after her remarks to delegates. One question received a standing ovation.
It denounced Bill 115, and requested that all
that was stolen from teachers, education workers and the education
system through the draconian legislation be restored. In this way,
Wynne could show that she truly believes Bill 115 was a mistake, said
Ontario Political Forum wishes the delegates
to the AGM success in their deliberations and is confident that by
focusing on how to affirm
their rights under the new circumstances they will be able to orient
themselves heading into the battles ahead.
Important Issues Facing Elementary Teachers
One of the most important questions facing this AGM is
how teachers and education workers can affirm their rights in the
context of a Liberal majority
government and new provincial bargaining legislation. Teachers and
education workers have a right to have a say over their wages and
conditions by dint of
the work they do and the important role they play in the education of
Elementary teachers succeeded in affirming their rights
and defending the rights of all working people during the last round of
negotiations by refusing to
submit to the government's austerity parameters which amounted to
stealing over $1 billion from education, and saying No! to imposed
non-agreements. This stand
rallied all those working people in Ontario who wanted to oppose
government dictate and theft of public funds and violations of workers'
rights. "If You Work
in Ontario, This is Your Fight," became a rallying cry for everyone to
stand shoulder to shoulder to oppose Bill 115 and the arbitrary powers
it proposed to
give the minority Liberal government.
strike votes following the government's passage of Bill 115.
Ottawa Carleton; right:
Prince Edward (Belleville).
Now with a Liberal majority and new provincial
bargaining legislation, elementary teachers will have to discuss how to
do the same under the new
circumstances. With a majority government the pressure will increase
for teachers and education workers to voluntarily accept austerity in
education with the
threat of more imposed contracts and prolonged labour disputes à la British Columbia held
over their heads. Already the Wynne government is seeking to impose
fraudulent austerity parameters on negotiations claiming there is "no
new money" so as to present teachers and education worker's political
opposition to austerity as "out of touch" with reality. This at a time
when the Liberals recently gave $220 million to Cisco and are preparing
to give even more to Chrysler! In addition the Liberals made sure that
the last period the Labour Board was provided with the conditions to
rule the coordinated withdrawal of voluntary extracurricular activities
an illegal strike after
contracts were imposed, setting up teachers to be criminalized for
using their voluntary activities as a means to alert the society to the
violation of their rights
and the privatization of education by government.
Although it appears as if the odds are against teachers
and education workers, their experience shows they are able to
interevene in a manner which favours
them. In the fight against Bill 115 and in by-elections, as well as
during the general election, where teachers were active in defending
their rights and mobilizing
their families, friends and peers, based on an independent stand that
defends the rights of all, they were able to form public opinion which
government's ability to dictate and do as it pleases.
The example of teachers and education workers in Windsor
and Essex County, who actively organized in the general election to
defeat both the Liberals
and PCs to contribute to blocking a majority government by going all
out to Get 3 to vote against the Liberals and PCs, shows that by taking
a stand that
affirms everyone's rights the working people rise to the occasion and
affirm their rights.
As the next round of negotiations is set to begin it is
important that teachers and education workers overcome all the new
attempts being prepared to get
them to give up their fight for rights by "waiting and seeing" what the
Liberals have in store for them.
The example of what the majority Liberal government is
doing in BC is a warning. It is now offering to "pay" parents for "lost
days" for students when
the teachers are on strike, establishing an anti-social "voucher" style
arrangement which will smash public education. Or, the Liberal majority
in Quebec that
is setting up schemes to enable the private so-called health care
providers to deliver healthcare paid for with public funds. It shows
that majorities are being
used to impose new arrangements to destroy any public authority that
exists which upholds public right and not monopoly right. Now is not
the time to "wait
and see" but to step up the work to say No! to dictate and No! to
privatization in education. The last two years have shown that it is in
boldly affirming rights
and not waiting for others to do it for you that headway can be made.
BC Teachers Receive Widespread Support
Teacher and education workers' provincial and local
unions are fully supporting their counterparts in British Columbia who
were forced out on full-scale
strike June 17. Since May 26, BC teachers had been holding rotating
strikes. They are on strike across the province in order to affirm
their rights against the
BC Liberal government which refuses to submit to the popular will in BC
that supports the teachers and their defence of their wages and working
-- most importantly on their right to negotiate items such as class
size and composition. The people of BC are clear that the teachers are
the ones defending
public education, and thus the public interest, and this is why they
are getting support.
In this light, it is significant that following the
fight of teachers and education workers in Ontario against Bill 115 and
government violation of their rights,
they are now standing shoulder to shoulder with BC teachers at the
provincial and local level. This is a clear sign to the Liberal
government in Ontario -- now
in a majority situation like that of BC -- that dictate and violation
of rights will not be accepted.
Support from Ontario
Teachers and Education Workers
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
President Sam Hammond sent
a letter of support to Jim Iker, President of the British Columbia
Teachers' Federation (BCTF) accompanied by a cheque for $1 million
dollars from ETFO.
Hammond said, "Your federation has, for twelve years, faced
unprecedented attacks on your union rights. Your government has
stripped provisions from your
collective agreements and refused to work with you to provide high
quality public education. The government has ignored court decisions
and granted wage
increases to other public sector workers while freezing teacher
salaries." Hammond said no other federation in the country had to deal
with the challenges that
the BCTF and its members have, saying: "You have set an example for all
Hammond pointed out that the issues BCTF is fighting for
-- smaller class sizes, more specialist teachers to support student
learning and a fair salary --
are also priorities for Ontario teachers and other education workers,
stating: "Your fight is our fight."
He said that ETFO members know how important it is to
support BC teachers in their struggle against "a government that
continues to underfund public
education and fails to respect and support its teachers." He said ETFO
would stand with BCTF "today and for as long as it takes for teachers
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF)
President Paul Elliott also sent a letter of support and on June 19, at
the All Together for Public
Education Rally for a Fair Deal and Better Support for Kids, he
presented a cheque for $100,000 to the BCTF. Elliott announced that a
total of $1.5 had been
donated to the BCTF by the three largest teachers' federations in
In the letter of support, Elliott stated: "The recent
attacks on teachers, public education and collective bargaining in
British Columbia are both unprecedented
and indefensible. It is clear that your members have borne the weight
of standing up to a government intent on forcing its agenda with no
concern for the
"As you are aware, our members are no strangers to such
reckless acts of a government. Last year they stood strong against
imposed contracts which stripped
them of not only important benefits, but also of the right to
participate in collective bargaining with their employers."
Elliott said OSSTF members were closely watching as the
situation unfolded in BC, recognizing that an attack on teachers is an
attack on public education,
and pledged OSSTF's support to the BCTF and its members in their
struggle. In a statement issued the same day, he said that "the attack
on public education
in British Columbia is an attack on us all."
On May 1, Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
(OECTA) President James Ryan wrote to offer support on behalf of 45,000
to the BCTF and its members, saying it was not surprising that they had
been forced into job action "with a government that has a proven record
as an adversary
of teachers, students and parents of BC." He called it shameful that in
one of the highest cost regions of Canada the BC government was funding
an average of $1,000 less per student than the national average and
said that BC students should not have to tolerate cuts to programs, as
those for special needs,
or cuts to numbers of teachers. Ryan said the BC government needed to
restore class size provisions it had illegally stripped from teacher
and recognize that teachers deserve a fair wage and a just compensation
increase that would bring them in line with provinces of comparable
costs of living.
In addition to the support BC teachers have received
from the provincial bodies of unions representing Ontario teachers and
education workers, letters of
support and financial donations have been sent by local
unions/districts of these unions. It is of note that many of these
local unions were very active in the
fight against provincial government dictate in the form of Bill 115 and
Bill 122, the provincial bargaining legislation in Ontario.
David Clegg, president of the York Region of ETFO
writes: "It is an inspiration to us that BCTF members' solidarity is
unwavering, even having depleted
your ability to provide strike pay, in the face of a regressive and
hostile government." A $10,000 donation was sent along with the letter.
The first vice-president of the Toronto Occasional
Teachers' local of ETFO, Robert Fulford, writes in his letter that "we
admire, respect and appreciate how
the BCTF has stood on the front lines for all teachers."
In a note to the BCTF vice-president of the
Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation, Janet Fraser, makes
reference to the slogan adopted by federal
public servants: "We are all in this together."
Mike Lumb, president of the Limestone ETFO local also
sent a donation and a letter on behalf of the local. In a letter Lumb
stated: "Please accept this
donation from the members of ETFO Limestone Local to help you in your
fight with the Liberal government and to protect your members' rights.
through a similar struggle here with Bill 115 just over a year ago."
At their annual general meeting, members of OSSTF
District 9 in Windsor-Essex unanimously passed a resolution to donate
$500 to the BCTF in support
of their strike.
Joe Martone, president of the elementary unit of the
Simcoe-Muskoka local of OECTA stated: "The striking teachers of BC are
up against a very difficult
government that appears to be unwilling to negotiate in good faith. We
went through our own strike in 2002 and we can fully appreciate the
impact this type
of labour dispute can have on your members, financially and
emotionally." An $800 donation was included with the letter.
Negotiate Don't Dictate!
University of Windsor Faculty Oppose Imposed Terms
Signs from "Rally
for Our Rights" organized by the Windsor University
Faculty Association (WUFA) on
July 8, 2014 to say
No! to the
administration's threat to impose working conditions.
Ever since the election of the Liberal majority
government the administration at the University of Windsor, in
particular its President Alan Wildeman, has
been aggressively trying to force the faculty to submit to the dictate
that the government's austerity parameters for the public sector must
be agreed to as the
basis for negotiations or else. The University President has constantly
invoked the government's declaration of "no new funds" for negotiations
order to justify
his dictate showing how the Liberal majority is being used to violate
On July 28 the University of Windsor imposed terms and
conditions of employment on the members of the Windsor University
Faculty Association (WUFA)
based on what it calls its "final offer" to their union, something it
had threatened to do if the offer was not accepted. WUFA represents
1,100 full and part-time
teaching faculty as well as librarians and ancilliary academic staff
such as coaches and others. Its last collective agreement expired June
The union's negotiating team rejected the University's
"final offer" presented on July 15, saying it contained an unacceptable
wage freeze and concessions.
They put forward a counter-proposal on July 18. The University's answer
came in a July 24 letter saying it intended to impose its "final offer"
-- to which the
members of WUFA responded by voting 99.5% in favour of holding a strike
vote, now set to take place August 14.
Previously, on July 3, shortly after the election of a
Liberal majority government and when negotiations had barely begun, the
University threatened to stop
honouring WUFA's collective agreement if a new contract was not in
place within five days. However, it backed off from implementing its
threat at the time
in the face of instant and widespread condemnation by the affected
members as well as by unions representing faculty at other universities
and workers in other
With respect to the July 28
imposition, WUFA president
Anne Forrest stated: "Even if these were terrific terms and conditions
of employment, having them
imposed upon us is unacceptable. It's the act of imposition that has
become the focal point of our organizing now."
"Who wouldn't negotiate with us in the future if all
they have to do is come to the table and say, 'We don't like what
you're saying, so here: we're imposing
our conditions of employment whether you like them or whether you
don't,' " she said. "Next time around, why wouldn't they do the same
thing? We're really
protecting our right to participate in this process."
The strike vote and information meetings being held in
advance will be an opportunity for members of the Faculty Association
to reject the University's
dictate and affirm the rights of all workers by showing that despite
the government having a majority, setting the stage for the University
of Windsor to try
and impose austerity, dictate is still unacceptable.
Liberals Pass Austerity Budget
Conditions Set for Crisis to Deepen
On July 24, the newly elected Liberal majority in the
Legislature passed the Liberals' budget bill by a vote of 56 in favour
to 37 against. The Legislature
is now recessed for the summer and will resume sitting on October 20.
The Liberals presented this
introduced on May 1, as their election platform, and its swift passage
following the election with little debate
is an attempt by the government to make it appear as though the
austerity measures it contains have legitimacy or popular support.
This, despite the fact that
only 20% of the electorate actually voted for the Liberals and many did
so on the basis of trying to use their vote to defeat Tim Hudak, since
a Hudak government as a greater evil than a Liberal majority. Thus, 80%
of the electorate did not vote for the Liberals. This raises a serious
legitimacy for the direction they continue to push the province.
Instead of recognizing that their agenda does not have the popular
support of the working people,
the Liberals are instead making it clear they plan to use their
majority to impose the measures in the budget on the working people,
especially as concerns
workers' wages and working conditions, regardless of the political
opposition to such measures and the destructive effect they will have
on the society. They
are also making it clear that they will uphold monopoly right through
handing over more public funds to the monopolies on demand. Already
are underway with Chrysler in this respect with defeated Liberal
cabinet minister Teresa Piruzza now hired
by Chrysler to head its government relations
While the Legislature is in recess many public sector
workers are already or will soon be in negotiations with the
government, including K-12 teachers and
support staff, university and college faculty and staff, doctors and
jail guards. Wynne constantly repeats that there is no new money for
these negotiations and
that "restraint" is now a permanent requirement for the working people.
Meanwhile there is no such stand taken towards the demands of the
The working people are already rejecting the pressure to
succumb to the idea that the measures in the Liberal budget must be
accepted based on the Liberals
now having a majority. They are throwing off the Stockholm Syndrome
that gripped certain sections of the electorate and was used by the
Liberals to cover
up the anti-social direction they are taking the province. The working
people are recognizing that they could have blocked a majority
government had they
intervened across the province to defeat both the Liberals and PCs in
the June election. This recognition makes the Liberals' majority even
more hollow as it
becomes clearer that it was obtained through smoke and mirrors about
what they stand for rather than any real support from the people.
The working people of Ontario are the producers of the
wealth and providers of the services and by dint of their work have the
right to participate in setting
the direction of the economy. They have already shown that they will
not accept the government imposing austerity on them through dictate
and this will once
again become apparent as the Liberals move to swiftly impose their
Justice for Injured Workers!
Scrap the New Benefit Policies!
No to Surveillance Harassment
June 1, 2014. Injured
rally at Queen's Park on Injured Workers' Day,
the provincial election, to demand
for injured workers.
Injured workers, their organizations and allies took an
active role in the 41st general election throughout the province in
putting forth their political demands
which were in their own interests and the interests of all working
people. They organized pickets at the Ministry of Labour leading up to
a spirited Injured
Workers Day which landed in the middle of the election. Issue 5 of the
Justice for Injured Workers newspaper was distributed in ridings
and a Day of Shame protest took place that brought promises from local
Liberal and NDP candidates that they would pressure the province to
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) anti-worker benefits
policies. All politicians in the Legislature will be held to account!
Kevin Flynn, the Minister of Labour in the Wynne
majority government must reject the new and revised benefits policies
as finalized by the WSIB and
presented to the Board of Directors headed by Chair Elizabeth Witmer
(who also led the Harris-era attack on injured workers). Throughout the
before, the resolve of injured workers, their families and
organizations to fight for their rights to their benefits and against
the systematic dismantling of the
100-year-old public workers' compensation system has resulted in the
broadening of support, in successful resolution of some claims and
political exposure of
the government's anti-social, anti-worker path. They have strengthened
their organizations and ability to fight and won the support of allies.
Several prominent lawyers have come forward to denounce
the illegal implementation of the "draft" benefits policies under which
injured workers were
denied benefits due to "pre-existing conditions" such as degenerative
disc disease and aging. The determination of injured workers has led to
the launch of the
Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) Legal Defence Fund.
ONIWG has called on trade unions, legal clinics and like-minded
activists to assist
them in raising money which will be used to take collective legal
action through such means as class action suits or Charter challenges
against the violations
of injured workers' rights.
Injured workers have also
taken up battling increased surveillance and harassment by the WSIB.
Through their collective work they are exposing these
anti-worker actions. Because of their resistance to these intrusions
into their lives, the Industrial Accident Victims' Group of Ontario
(IAVGO), a community
legal clinic that provides free services to injured workers, has come
forward to obtain, through a freedom of information request,
documentation that identifies
the callous WSIB internal guidelines. The guidelines reveal a regime of
approximately 100 "red flags" and "frauds" that are identified and used
as a pretext
for surveillance of the most vulnerable and precarious workers such as
those with limited English, psychological problems, lack of stable
housing or temporary
employment, to mention just a few. They are being targeted for covert
surveillance. It must be stopped!
The actions injured workers took during the election
strengthen the fight for the rights of all and deserve the support of
all working people. They now must
continue the fight to oppose a government that imposes austerity on
them under the hoax of having a mandate to do so even though they
received a mere 20
per cent of the electorate's vote. This means continuing to oppose,
through various means, the assault on their right to compensation,
their increased harassment
through surveillance and the downloading of the "unfunded liability"
onto the backs of injured workers in the interest of employers.
The slogans shouted at the Injured Workers Day ring true
at this juncture: "We will not be silenced!"; "We will not be
intimidated or live in fear!"; "We
will not abandon our claims and will keep fighting for justice!"
Note to Readers
Ontario Political Forum
is publishing irregularly during the summer and will re-start regular
publication Thursday, September 4. Please continue to send in your
reports and views so that together we can ensure that the
independent voice of the working class takes its place in the politics
The editorial and technical team of OPF hopes that all its
readers are having a safe summer.
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