Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Time For Action

Our Provincial ETFO President, Sam Hammond ends every email with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. - "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, but because one's conscience tells one that it's right..."
With word that the Finance Minister is set to announce legislation to extend wage freezes in the public sector beyond two years, we bring to your attention two events you should plan on attending  -

1) Along with our ETFO Teacher Local colleagues, CUPE and OSSTF we have organized -

Deb Matthew's MPP Office
242 Picadilly Street in London (east of Richmond)

The passage of Bill 115 is one of the darkest events
in the history of workers' rights in Ontario.
(Look for our white ETFO Occasional Teacher flags)

2)  Have a say in your future-

For all Teachers & OTs (includes LTOs)
Monday, October 1, 2012
Budweiser Gardens (John Labatt Centre)

Registration Opens: 4:00 PM
Meeting: 5:30 PM
(light meal provided)

Occasional Teachers will enter via Gate 1 (those requiring an accessible entry use Gate 5)
Members need to register at tables set up alphabetically so arrive early to get your drink and cold beverage ticket, colour coded ballot and Active Member label.
Parking is not provided on site so we advise OTs car pool when possible.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are you angry yet?

As one sign said, "If you're not angry yet, you're not paying attention!"
More than 500 people rallied in protest last Friday at the office of Liberal MPP Chris Bentley.  We gathered out of frustration that through the legislation of Bill 115, our TVDSB sick leave banks had been wiped out. We objected to losing the right to move toward full salary by acquiring experience and earning additional qualifications, a process that takes ten years, and even longer when you have not secured a full time contract.  And those who are ETFO Teachers and Occasional Teachers were protesting the loss of  an additional 1.5% of salary (because of 3 unpaid PA Days) on top of the 2% hit on salary we took from the Liberals four years ago. What salary freeze?  Add inflation to the equation and the significance is glaring for these losses can never be regained and will forever impact our pensions.
We are not alone.  Every Board employee will have their wages negatively affected by Bill 115 and duly elected Board trustees have been left powerless in the wake of this high-handed and unnecessary legislation.
So what are we to do?  Many of us are participating in these rallies and many of our colleagues are expressing themselves by withholding extracurricular activities - volunteer work such as after school clubs, committees and sports activities. 
Toronto Star Education Reporter, Louise Brown commented Tuesday, Sept. 18th:
"Wasn’t hard for me to explain it to my 9 year old: Doing after school activities is not part of the teachers’ jobs, and they don’t get paid for it. In Canada, luckily, no one can be forced to work for free. Your teachers volunteer to stay after work for free, because they love you guys. But right now they are mad at their employer, who they think is being mean and unfair to them. The only way they can show their employer that they are mad is to stop volunteering to spend their free time at work. They are not mad at the kids. They still love you guys. But sometimes in life you have to take a stand when you think someone is being mean to you."
The United Nations (through its International Labour Organization) recognizes the right to collective bargaining" as an essential right of workers.
The Supreme Court of Canada has said, "The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers..."
Join ETFO, OSSTF, CUPE and other supporters who recognize that this issue is bigger than the loss suffered by any one individual:
Rally in Solidarity
Friday, September 28th at MPP Deb Matthew's constituency office
242 Piccadilly Street in London
4:00 PM   
(Look for our white ETFO Thames Valley Occasional Teacher flags - we'll be there!)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bill 115 - one of the darkest events in the history of Workers' Rights in Ontario

Welcome back to all.
It has indeed been another busy beginning to the school year with much on both our Local and provincial union plates.  Uppermost on our agenda has been the fight to preserve our rights under the Labour Relations Act of Ontario.

Join us in a Solidarity Rally at Chris Bentley’s MPP Office
(Wharncliffe & Baseline Road, London)
Teachers & Education Workers
Friday, September 14th @ 4:00 p.m.

As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has stated in objecting to Bill 115, “We are concerned that this bill violates the right to meaningful collective bargaining. Why is it necessary, for instance, to remove the right to strike before any job action has occurred or even been contemplated? Collective bargaining enhances the dignity of workers and is a constitutional right, in part, for this reason. This isn’t only about the pocket book, it is also about participating in the governance of the workplace. People’s rights are not something to be trifled with. We are concerned that this legislation goes too far and violates the civil liberties of all Ontarians.”

We cannot stress enough how important it is that members keep informed by following our Wednesday Blog, Tweets @etfotvot and

Please find below a very insightful article that was written before the 2 recent by-elections:

August 29, 2012 by Thomas Walkom, National Affairs Columnist

Dalton McGuinty's attack on teachers' trade union rights is ultimately an attack on the middle class. It is misguided and unnecessary.  It is also unfair.

McGuinty's archly named Putting Students First bill is unnecessary because it seeks to end, through a two-year strike ban, a labour dispute that does not exist.

Teachers are not on strike. Nor according to the leaders of the two major unions involved, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, do they intend to go on strike.  They may have walked away from province-wide talks with the Liberal government. But as required under Ontario labour law, they have been bargaining with the local school boards that employ them.

Certainly the boards didn't ask Queen's Park to step in. Most apparently thought they could reach deals with their employees.  So why is the government attacking teachers?

My astute colleague Martin Regg Cohn has pointed to the politics of the situation. The Liberals are desperate to win two Sept. 6 by-elections in order to gain a majority of seats in the provincial legislature. They reckon that taking on the unions will play particularly well in one riding, Kitchener-Waterloo, that has traditionally elected Tories.

But beyond this, the McGuinty Liberals are suffering from the same myopia that seems to affect so many provincial governments.  They are focusing on the province's deficit, now $15 billion, rather than the economic circumstances that created this shortfall.
Those circumstances have to do with a faltering economy that through job loss and weakened consumer demand is starving government of revenues. 

A far-sighted government would focus on restarting the economy and raising those revenues. A near-sighted government, like this one, focuses on reducing spending alone - with no thought as to how such cuts might further hobble the overall economy.

The McGuinty Liberals aren't the first to make this fundamental error. Bob Rae's New Democrats did the same in the early '90s, with results - such as nursing shortages - that took years to repair.  Even more than the Rae New Democrats (who at least spread the unnecessary pain around) the McGuinty Liberals are looking for public-sector workers to pay for a recession they did not create.

According to Statistics Canada, overall wages in Ontario, private and public, have gone up by 3 per cent over the past year. Average wages paid to managers, both private and public, have jumped by 7.4 per cent.

Yet this government wants public-sector workers to get less than nothing. Even the unions' offer for a zero increase isn't enough. The Liberal bill
would arbitrarily strip away benefits that were previously bargained and keep all but the newest teachers at journeyman wage rates.

And if teachers don't like it, there is little they can do. The bill would not let them withdraw their labour in protest.
If teachers were deemed essential workers, such a strike ban might make sense. Police officers, for instance, can't go on strike.

But if teachers were defined as essential workers, the government would have to treat them fairly. It wouldn't be able to impose a settlement. It would have to let an impartial arbitrator decide.

And my guess is that no impartial arbitrator would give teachers less than nothing.
Tim Hudak's Conservatives are at least up front on this issue. Hudak seems to believe that unions are evil. He is an honest troglodyte.

The Liberals are more duplicitous. They work to cripple trade unionism while protesting that they are friends to the middle class that such unions protect.

This fight isn't just about teachers.

Thomas Walkom's column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome to School Year 2012 - 2013

Greetings to all our members and welcome to our Wednesday Blog, posted each week throughout the school year.  We hope you have a good start and are energized to do your best.

In response to some of the questions we have fielded thus far:
  • When will we receive our Pocket Calendars?   Answer: The pocket calendars will be mailed by months' end to all members.
  • How and when will I receive additional information regarding Professional Development, up to date bargaining developments etc?  Answer: Look for mailings which will include the September edition of our newsletter "The Supply Line". Later editions will be posted electronically so visit our website at  and follow us on Twitter @etfotvot. 
  • Who do I notify of a change in personal information?  Answer:  Please advise our office in writing of the change via email at or by mail to:  ETFO Thames Valley Occasional Teachers' Local, 521 Nottinghill Road, Suite 8, London, ON, N6K 4L4.
  • It is important that you also notify the following:
    - College of Teachers
    - the Board (via the Employee Portal under your Personal Information),
    - your Apply to Education Account.
Rally for Education - Thanks to everyone who travelled to Toronto for the rally for education and against the legislation that threatens our right to bargain. Over 15,000 education workers and supporters met in front of Queen’s Park and made it clear to the Liberals and Conservatives that our concern is NOT about money, it is about our constitutional right to bargain and negotiate with our employers. 

Bill 115, Putting Students First Act, 2012 - Introduced August 27, 2012
The government says the legislation is necessary to avoid teacher strikes and prevent salary increases among teachers who have earned additional qualifications and for younger teachers due scheduled salary gains that reflect their classroom experience.  The government said it was moving to prevent strikes weeks or months before such action was even legally a possibility.  The government moved to push the bill through the Legislature despite the fact that the affected unions had initiated bargaining with their respective employing school boards and almost every ETFO President witnessed this betrayal from the Queen's Park Gallery when Minister Broten introduced the legislation in Queen's Park.

Bill 115 gives the government unprecedented powers over school board negotiations with no accountability through legislative debate and it:
  • imposes the terms and conditions of an agreement reached between the Ontario government and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), with a couple of important exceptions that favour the employer.
  • means 60% of teachers will receive a pay cut; and 40% of teachers, mostly younger ones, will receive only 50% of their scheduled increases for experience and additional qualifications earned through taking university degrees, courses, and other professional development they pay for themselves.
  • cuts the number of sick days by 50% and discontinues the accumulation of unused days which will have a negative impact on the amount of work available for Occasional Teachers

  • singles out one sector – education – for wage restraint.
  • by-passes the legal bargaining regime by imposing contract provisions.
  • suspends the normal, legal framework for negotiating contacts with school boards.
  • introduces extraordinary legislative measures to prevent legal challenges to the bill.
  • sets a dangerous precedent for other unionized employees in particular and democratic principles in general.
  • gives Cabinet rather than the Legislature the right to restrict strikes and lockouts.
  • gives Cabinet the power to extend the provisions of the bill beyond two years without having the issue debated in the Legislature.
  • gives the Minister of Education unlimited and unprecedented powers to approve or change any contract negotiated between school boards and the affected unions.
  • gives the Minister of Education authority over collective agreements that are governed by labour legislation under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour.
What Can I Do?Email your MPP to say that you oppose this legislation, that you support the right of workers to bargain collectively as the law allows.