October 24, 2012 - Vol. 2
Significance of McGuinty's
Prorogation of Legislature
Liberals and Conservatives Move
Anti-Worker Scheming to Back Room
• Liberals and Conservatives Move Anti-Worker
Scheming to Back Room - Jim
• Liberal Party Announces Leadership Convention
- Dan Cerri
to the Putting Students First Act
• Elementary Teachers Request Conciliation
• Teachers and Education Workers Continue
• Overwhelming Public Support
• Ongoing Attempts to Incite the Public Against
Teachers Bound to Fail - Enver
• The Fantasy of a Freely Negotiated Contract
in the Colleges - Christine Nugent
Privatization of Public Transit
• Toronto Executive Committee Prepares Tax
Increases to Pay for Transit
• Consultation Farce on Public Transit Funding
• First Toronto Light Rail Transit Contract
Goes to Contractor with Yellow Union
Significance of McGuinty's Prorogation of
Liberals and Conservatives Move Anti-Worker Scheming to
When Premier McGuinty announced his government's
decision to suspend the Legislature, he cited "rancour among the
parties" as the reason, particularly the inability of his minority
government to pass additional anti-worker legislation against public
sector workers. According to McGuinty it is necessary to suspend
the Legislature so an anti-worker legislative agenda can be worked out
with the Hudak Conservatives in the back rooms.
How did this situation come
to be? Just over a month ago
the Hudak Conservatives and the Liberal government collaborated to
legislatively strip teachers and education workers of their collective
bargaining rights by passing Bill 115, the Putting Students First
Act. As well, before proroguing the Liberals
and Conservatives had separate but virtually the same proposal to
change labour relations legislation so that collective agreements
public sector are dictated by a government minister. What increased the
rancour among the Liberals and Conservatives to such a degree that they
now have to close the Legislature and take
their anti-worker scheming into the back rooms?
Part of the "increased
rancour" McGuinty is referring to is a result of the recent by-election
in Kitchener-Waterloo (K-W). In this riding that had always been held
the Liberals or Conservatives, the electorate decisively rejected the
candidates of both these parties. This has upset all the narrow,
self-serving political calculations of these parties.
The Liberals and Conservatives are competing to be the
champions of the neo-liberal offensive of the rich. The by-election
showed these parties that the space for their political rivalry is much
smaller than they thought. As a result, this
rivalry has intensified, making collaboration difficult
since both parties want to dominate the anti-worker agenda.
Prior to the K-W by-election, the monopoly media said it
would be an important indicator for Ontario politics. According
to the media's scenario, K-W would be a kind of referendum where
Ontario voters would choose between Liberal and Conservative versions
how to attack public sector workers. The Liberals
had carefully planned the by-election, setting its date to coincide
with a legislative attack on teachers and the opening of
the school year. Not to be sidelined, the Conservatives released their
anti-worker white paper on changes to labour law at the same time.
These efforts and plans went awry when the working
class took decisive action against the Liberals and Conservatives'
attempts to use the K-W by-election to push their anti-worker
offensive. Workers successfully rallied the electorate to say No! to
the attacks on workers' rights. Workers occupied space
in the political arena at the expense of the parties leading the
neo-liberal offensive, precipitating the current standoff between the
Liberals and Conservatives.
It is suggested that the Legislature may be prorogued
for three to six months while the Liberal Party elects a new leader to
replace McGuinty. If the Liberals and Conservatives cannot come to an
agreement on public sector legislation there may even be an election.
However long it takes or whatever happens, the Liberals
and Conservatives will not abandon their attack on the rights of public
sector workers. These attacks are a key part of the agenda of
the privileged minority to drive down the standard of living of working
Because the K-W by-election didn't turn out as the media
and politicians leading the neo-liberal offensive had planned, not
much is heard about it anymore. But workers should remember it. Workers
took a stand in defence of their rights, rallied the people around this
stand and gave concrete
political expression to their own interests. Whatever the
Liberals and Conservatives come back with in their continuing attacks
the rights of public sector workers, this is how the workers will have
to answer once again.
Liberal Party Announces Leadership Convention
Ontario Liberal Party announced on October 22 that a
leadership convention will be held the weekend of Friday, January 25,
2013 to elect a new leader for the party. The decision was made by the
party's Executive Council which consists of 17 members. The location of
the convention will be decided next week. The party's statement
indicates that the convention will be
a "delegated event" meaning only selected delegates to the convention
will vote for the new leader. According to the statement:
"Delegates will be elected at Leadership Election
Meetings on Saturday, January 12th and Sunday, January 13th. Those
eligible to vote for the new Leader and delegates for the convention
must be members of the Ontario Liberal Party no later than 11:59 pm on
Friday, November 23rd."
Candidates for the Liberal leadership require the
of 250 members in good standing and an entry fee of $50,000, according
to the party's statement. The deadline for candidates to submit their
forms is Friday, November 23. McGuinty last week told his ministers
as an added requirement they must quit the Cabinet if they want to
be leadership candidates.
The Toronto Star reported on October 21 that a
total of 2,500 delegates will be involved in determining of the
new party leader. Each riding in Ontario can send up to 16 delegates
and Liberal MPPs, past and present, candidates, Liberal student club
executives and other party activists are also eligible
to vote, according to the Star.
Legislature will reconvene on February 18, 2013 with a Throne Speech.
The governing Ontario Liberal Party's process of
electing a new leader also means that a select few will be choosing the
next Premier of Ontario. This "democratic" process
shows that the political system, including both the current electoral
system and the role of parties within it, is dominated by the inner
circles of party members and
that the majority of people have no say in who represents these parties
or who runs in elections. How can a system be deemed democratic when
2,500 people will determine the next Premier of the province? Why are
only 17 members of an Executive Council determining the whole process?
None of the candidates
who will run for premier have been selected from among the vast
majority of people. All they need to do is raise the entry fee set by
the party brass.
Renewal of the political system is required. If a
political party is to claim it represents the people, then candidates
who run for the parties must be selected by their peers amongst the
people, not the rich. Unless they are recognized as leaders in their
communities for standing up for the rights of the people, how can they
claim to represent the people? Most importantly, why should the leader
of a political party become the Prime Minister if that party forms a
government? Being a candidate for the leadership of a party
should not mean being a candidate to become Prime Minister, especially
when the party leader is elected by so a few people who themselves are
not representative of anything except special interests.
Continued Opposition to the Putting
Students First Act
Elementary Teachers Request Conciliation
On October 22, over 75 Elementary Teachers' Federation
of Ontario (ETFO) locals requested conciliation in negotiations as a
result of the challenges created by the passage of the Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act.
"The government disregarded
Ontario's legal collective
bargaining process and, instead, imposed drastic cuts to ETFO members'
collective agreements and democratic rights through Bill 115," said
ETFO President Sam Hammond. "This has created challenges that we
haven't been able to resolve at local bargaining
tables. ETFO has no choice but to ask the Ministry of Labour to assign
conciliators to resolve problems that the government -- not school
boards -- created."
The Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) allows
a union or employer to request third-party assistance, called
conciliation, from the Ministry of Labour during negotiations. A
conciliator is then appointed to try and help each local and its
respective school board reach an agreement.
In September and early
October, strike votes took place
in ETFO locals throughout the province. A record number of ETFO members
participated in those votes and delivered an overwhelming mandate for
"By delivering the highest
strike vote percentages in ETFO's history, our members have sent a
clear message: they reject the government's assault on their democratic
rights and want to continue to participate in the collective bargaining
process set out in the OLRA," said Hammond.
"If the Liberal government's goal now is to negotiate
rather than legislate deals with other public sector workers it has no
choice but to repeal Bill 115 which, in spite of what the Minister of
Education says, goes far, far beyond a wage freeze."
"Our goal is to reach fair, legal settlements. ETFO will
do everything it can to ensure our members are able to fully
participate in the legal steps of the collective bargaining process.
Those steps include taking strike votes and engaging in conciliation."
Teachers and Education Workers Continue Actions
Friday, October 19 saw rallies by education workers and
their supporters outside the offices of two Liberal Cabinet Ministers
in the Greater Toronto Area and an action in Owen Sound where Minister
of Education Laurel Broten was speaking. A similar action took place on
October 22 outside the constituency office of MPP Kevin Flynn in
Oakville. Also on October 19, across the Greater Essex District School
Board, teachers and their supporters rallied outside elementary and
Constituency office of
Liberal MPP Frank Klees, October 19, 2012.
Constituency office of
Liberal MPP Eric Hoskins, October 19, 2012.
Constituency office of
Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn, October 22, 2012.
Century Secondary School, October 19, 2012
Giles Campus Elementary School, October 19, 2012
Meanwhile, both the Elementary Teachers' Federation of
Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) have asked their local
districts to organize weekly actions in the coming period, such as
information pickets and leafleting outside their schools, and mass
to involve members in informing the public about
why Bill 115 should be repealed.
Find out about upcoming actions in your local areas by
contacting the local OSSTF and ETFO offices. For contact information
for OSSTF Districts, click here.
For contact information for ETFO Locals, click here.
Overwhelming Public Support
Both the Liberals and
Conservatives have tried to demonize teachers and
educations workers in an attempt to pit the general public,
especially parents and students, against them. As a contribution to
combatting these deliberate attempts to divide the people, a group of
teachers and education workers
are doing regular door-to-door work, speaking with parents and the
general public to inform them about why teachers and education workers
are taking a stand and to find out the views of the public.
This attack on teachers and education workers began
during the by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo (K-W),
where the Liberal party tried its hardest to win the last seat required
for its majority. It distributed material that aggressively tried to
the public against teachers using scare tactics that school would not
start in September due to a strike, mistaken in their belief the public
and the Liberals would secure their coveted majority.
The Liberals were joined in their attacks by the Hudak Conservatives.
the people of K-W showed both McGuinty and Hudak how out of step the
Liberal-Conservative tag team is with Ontarians. In the door-to-door
work carried out during the by-elections
people overwhelmingly supported the just stand of the teachers and
education workers in defence of their rights and against Bill 115. Many
of those they met were teachers or public sector workers who denounced
the attempts by McGuinty to win the election on their backs.
Since the by-elections, the
group has continued to go door-to-door with the petition to repeal the Putting
Act. They point out that parents consistently express
their support for the teachers. Many parents they meet are teachers or
education workers themselves, or have teachers in their families.
Often these people immediately point out that their children have
out in support of teachers. Others are unionized workers who right away
see that this is a fight for workers' rights and that it affects
The group reports that with each person they speak, they
explain how the legislation violates the rights of teachers and
education workers to negotiate their wages and working conditions, the
arbitrary powers it gives the Minister of Education, and the overall
aim to remove $2.19 billion from education through
the imposition of austerity measures. They point out that the
legislation is being used against teachers and education workers now
but it is directed against everyone and so taking a stand against it
now is taking a stand for everyone. Lively discussion often ensues on
the doorstep about people's general sense that governments
cannot be permitted to operate in such an arbitrary undemocratic manner.
One of the misconceptions
encountered is that some people think the Act has stopped
teachers from participating in extra-curricular activities. When it is
explained that teachers decided to stop participating in
extra-curricular activities as a way to fight back against the
who held this misconception are still supportive because the teachers'
stand opposes an unjust law that attacks the rights of all.
The group also reports meeting with large numbers of
high school and elementary students, all of whom are aware of the
legislation and enthusiastically express their support for their
teachers. Many of these students participated in actions, like
walkouts, at their schools and when they were threatened with
suspensions for their actions, their parents fully defended them --
another sign of support for the fight teachers are waging.
Those participating in this work have seen with their
own eyes that there is a great deal of support amongst the people for
stand of teachers and education workers and can firmly reject the
disinformation being floated in the media which claims that
parents and students are against the teachers. This is simply
not true and reveals cynical attempts by the media in the service of
the government to create divisions in order to impose their
Ongoing Attempts to Incite the Public Against Teachers
Bound to Fail
the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
(ETFO) advised its members to complete the Ontario Progress
Report Card strictly in line with Ministry Guidelines where applicable.
This has been jumped on by Minister of Education Laurel Broten
and the media in an effort to incite parents
and the public against teachers with claims that teachers are "putting
students in the middle of the dispute" and Broten going so far as to
demand that ETFO
rescind its advice to its own members.
One might ask how Minister Broten and others in the
in any position to speak about reporting to the public when the
McGuinty government has prorogued the Legislature in order to avoid
accounting for its actions.
What is really taking place? The Progress Report Card
from the Ontario Report Card in that it does not give marks and that it
"...was designed to give parents/guardians/caregivers an early general
indication of a student's progress at the outset of the school year."
In its advice to members, ETFO stated: "[t]eachers are
to use their professional judgement when completing the Progress Report
Card. Teachers are not expected to comment on every subject or learning
skill. A single sentence indicating strengths/next steps for
improvement in each of the two comment boxes
is appropriate." Where teachers have indicated a student "needs
improvement," is "progressing with difficulty," or where the student is
not following the expectations of the Ontario curriculum, ETFO's advice
to members is that an extended comment is appropriate. This is
completely in line with the Ministry of Education's
On October 18, in response to the disinformation by
media outlets and the Minister of Education herself with claims that
would be "put[ting] at risk the success of our kids," ETFO issued a
press release entitled, "Teachers Providing What's Needed on Progress
Reports for Students; Teacher-parent interviews
still most important communication." In it, Sam Hammond, President of
ETFO, stated: "...Our advice is based on, and conforms with, the
Ministry of Education policy documents [Growing Success]..." and the
parent-teacher interviews that will be taking place province-wide in
November "...have always been, and
will continue to be, the most effective way for teachers to communicate
with parents about a student's progress."
Community College Faculty Negotiations
The Fantasy of a Freely Negotiated Contract
in the Colleges
Disinformation is being circulated about the recently
concluded negotiations between the Ontario Government and the community
college academic staff that needs to be set straight. These
and the collective agreement reached are being promoted as having been
negotiated." They are
being cited as proof that collective bargaining rights still exist for
Ontario public sector workers despite the draconian attacks on workers'
rights by the ruling Liberal government and the Conservative
opposition. This is a preposterous whitewashing of the blackmail and
trampling of college teachers' rights that took
place during their negotiations.
The college academic staff
agreement was reached September 10, a day before the Liberals and
Conservatives passed Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act
which stripped elementary and secondary teachers and school board
workers of their collective bargaining rights and imposed
cuts. Threatening to extend these measures to college
teachers, college administration negotiators were able to impose an
unacceptable contract on college teachers.
In addition, the colleges
administration threatened to unilaterally impose a
contract. Recent changes to the Community
Act made by the
Liberal government enabled the colleges to do this and the tactic of
imposing a contract was used in the 2008-9 negotiations. In the face
of all these threats, union negotiators opted for a strategic retreat
avoid a legislated or unilaterally imposed contract. By what stretch of
the imagination can this type of blackmail be considered a "freely
Rather than being an example of where workers' rights
are respected and the Ontario Liberals exercise what they claim is
"balanced approach," community colleges are a place where the
neo-liberal offensive is pressing heavily on workers and their rights.
All part-time and casual college workers have already been under a wage
freeze for two years. More than half the teachers and support staff in
the colleges are employed under precarious part-time and casual work
arrangements. For five years the colleges and the Ontario government
have been collaborating to deny these workers the right to join a union
and collectively bargain.
In the education sector and throughout Ontario's public
sector there is no such thing as good faith bargaining or respect for
workers' collective rights in Ontario's public sector. Any talk about
the alleged balanced approach or a social
consensus by the Liberal party is a cruel joke and college teachers
should reject it as such. Acting like
the monkeys who see, hear and speak no evil only helps the privileged
minority who are hell-bent on driving down the standard of living of
all Ontario working people.
College teachers, other public sector workers and the
entire working class have to discuss and sort out a way forward from
this situation. Fantasies and wishful thinking about "freely
negotiated" settlements won't help.
Opposition to Privatization of Public
Toronto Executive Committee Prepares Tax Increases to
Pay for Transit
At its October 9 meeting, the Executive Committee of
City Council approved a report on long-term financing of transit
capital, maintenance and operating costs presented by City Manager Joe
Pennachetti. The main content of the report is recommendations for how
to raise taxes to pay the City's share of
Metrolinx's $50 billion regional transit plan.
The staff report put forward a wide range of measures to
squeeze additional taxes out of Toronto's working people to pay
for transit. The recommendations would leave corporations, real estate
speculators, commercial and industrial property owners and other
private interests that benefit from public transit
relatively untouched. Proposals to raise more than $7 billion in
additional revenue are included in the approved report.
Staff recommended the City undertake an intense PR
campaign to justify increased taxes. The same fraudulent
"community consultation" process used last year to promote widespread
civic service cuts should be used again, they said. City staff would
Toronto residents with a menu of "realistic choices"
to pay for transit and asked which method of increased taxes they
prefer. Full mobilization of the monopoly media and the city's elite
would be required to push this plan the report said. Special mention
was made of a role in the campaign for two neo-liberal civic
organizations, the Toronto Board of Trade and Civic
The staff plan calls for the revenue scheme to be
presented to City Council early in the spring after the consultation
farce and a six-month PR campaign on the need for tax
increases has been completed. Presentation of the final plan to Council
is timed to meet provincial requirements that funding arrangements
for transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)
be in place by June 2012. At that time, the provincial crown
corporation Metrolinx will report on funding arrangements with
municipalities for its regional transit plan.
Metrolinx was given control of urban transit planning
and funding for the GTHA in the Metrolinx Act passed by the
Liberal government in 2006. Under this Act, Metrolinx has to produce a
long-term plan for urban transit expansion throughout Toronto and
the surrounding areas, including Hamilton
and Oshawa and extending to Georgetown, Guelph and
Kitchener-Waterloo. The Act also required that Metrolinx produce a
report by June 2013
on how the costs of the transit expansion will be
allocated among the municipalities of the GTHA region.
In 2008 Metrolinx produced the GTHA Regional
Transportation Plan, which in Metrolinx PR was dubbed The Big
Move. This is a 25-year transit infrastructure expansion plan
involving $50 billion in public spending for capital costs alone. At
least the same level of funding will be required for
the maintenance and operating costs during the 25-year period.
The City of Toronto staff report estimates that in its
June 2013 report, Metrolinx will allocate $4 billion a year in costs
among the regional municipalities, with a large share of this being
allocated to Toronto. The recent decision of Toronto's Executive
Committee begins the process to increase taxes on Toronto
residents in anticipation of the revenue Metrolinx will demand.
Consultation Farce on Public Transit Funding Options
The table below is adapted from the staff report on
transit funding strategies approved by the Executive Committee of
Toronto City Council on October 9. Similar funding strategies are being
considered by the other municipalities involved in the Metrolinx Greater
Plan, the so called Big Move.
Toronto city staff set out the tax increases listed in
the table below as the only "realistic options" to pay for transit
expansion. City staff plans to organize a consultation farce
over the winter in which discussion will be limited to these narrow,
pre-determined options for transit funding.
Seventy per cent of the options to raise the City's
share of transit funding will increase taxes for
individual residents. Only 30 per cent of the revenue options will
increase taxes on corporations, land speculators, commercial and
industrial property owners and other private interests that benefit
transit expansion. Most of the provincial share of the transit funding
for the regional transit expansion will also come from individual
taxation in the form of income tax and sales tax.
The options to tax private
interests represent a relatively small amount of
revenue and they are ranked as low priority in the City staff report.
This indicates that they will be downplayed during the City's PR
on transit funding. Payroll taxes, for example, are the lowest ranked
though employers reap huge benefits from transit expansion with workers
travelling to their jobs and customers using transit to get to malls
stores. Other taxes on private interests are also
given low priority ranking as revenue sources, including the options of
parking levies, development charges, land transfers taxes and property
taxes. Raising corporate income tax
was not even considered, the staff report says, because "it is a
disincentive to investment."
GTHA Annual Revenue ($ millions)
Personal Income Tax
Land Transfer Tax
Corporate Income Tax*
from Transportation Funding Strategy-
First Toronto Light Rail Transit Contract Goes to
Contractor with Yellow Union
The Ontario Liberals advertise
themselves as "friends of the
building trades" but a recent decision of the government on the Toronto
light rail transit (LRT) project exposes this as deceptive political
posturing. The Liberal government has awarded the first major
construction contract on the $8.4 billion LRT project
to a consortium headed by Kenaidan Contracting. Kenaidan is a member of
the anti-union political organization Merit Ontario, an association of
anti-union construction contractors. It is also a signatory with the
Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), a "yellow" or company
union used to attack workers'
rights and undermine legitimate workers' defence organizations.
This decision by the Ontario government to award a
Kenaidan overthrows the longstanding fair wage policy of the City of
Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on City transit
projects and other City construction work. It also dead-ends the 2010
decision of the City to respect construction
workers' union contracts on the LRT work through a project labour
agreement with the building trades.
The Kenaidan contract award was announced by the Ontario
transit agency Metrolinx on September 10. A consortium headed by
Kenaidan Contracting/Obayashi Canada was handed a $323 million contract
for 6.2 km of tunnelling on the west end of the Eglinton-Scarborough
Crosstown LRT. The
other members of the tunnelling contract consortium are Kenny
Construction, an American large diameter tunnelling company and
Technicore Underground, a York Region company manufacturing mining and
small diameter tunnelling equipment.
Kenaidan is a preferred contractor of Metrolinx and
Ontario, another provincial government agency.
Through Metrolinx and
Infrastructure Ontario, Kenaidan has been used by the Liberal
government to push anti-union contracting into transit and other public
infrastructure sectors under the hoax
of "open tendering."
Last year, the Obayashi Group bought controlling
Kenaidan to exploit its close connections with the Ontario government.
Obayashi is a global infrastructure construction-financing monopoly
based in Japan with annual revenue of $15 billion. Kenaidan and
now work together on government contracts.
With Obayashi's financial resources, the scope of work Kenaidan can
take on is virtually unlimited. The government is opening the door wide
for Kenaidan-Obayashi to further insinuiate anti-union, anti-worker
private interests into public infrastructure projects.
This decision by the Ontario Liberals about the Toronto
LRT project shows that no section of the working class is secure from
the neo-liberal offensive to drive down the living standards of
working people. All workers and all workers' defence organizations are
targets of the anti-worker
offensive led in Ontario by the Liberal Party and the Hudak
The arrangements and ways of doing business under the
social contract no longer exist. All workers have to address themselves
to the current situation, including resisting and turning back this
anti-worker offensive by developing independent political stands that
serve their interests and that of the society.
All workers and workers' organizations have to soberly reflect on who
are their real friends and allies and sum up the experience
of dealing with self-serving politicians who present themselves as
"friends of labour." When workers' collective rights are under such an
intense attack, friends and allies are
those who can be rallied to defend workers' rights and the rights of
1. Merit Canada, which has
eight provincial wings, is a political
organization of the biggest monopolies operating in Canada and the
contractors associated with them. It currently has a major base among
the oil and gas monopolies in Alberta. The Christian Labour Alliance of
Canada (CLAC) is a yellow/company
"union" organization which is mainly active in the Alberta oil/gas
The main tactic for Merit contractors
and the resource extraction
monopolies is to use CLAC to impose substandard labour agreements on
large projects. Owners write up a project agreement, CLAC signs it and
then these wages and working conditions are imposed on all workers on
the project. For more
information about the anti-union CLAC tactics of the monopolies see
"Alberta Government Holds Closed Door Meetings to Change Labour Law, "
TML Weekly, September 17, 2011 -
2. Kenaidan has received more than 50
major contracts from
Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx. It has done $500 million in
projects for Metrolinx subsidiary GO Transit. The Kenaidan-Obayashi
group is currently working on a $183 million cut-and-cover tunnelling
project in Weston and on other work for
Metrolinx's Georgetown GO Train project. Prior to receiving the
Eglinton LRT tunnelling contract, Kenaidan had already received
contracts for preparatory work on the LRT tunnel launch area.
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