August 28, 2012 - No. 46
All Out to Defend the Rights of Teachers
and Education Workers!
Tuesday, August 28 -- 12:00 noon-1:30 pm
Queen's Park, (University
and College Street)
For information on buses and public transit, visit www.etfo.ca
the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, the Elementary
Teachers' Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers'
Federation, Canadian Union of Public Employees and other community
members against McGuinty government's
anti-collective bargaining legislation
the Liberal-Conservative Anti-Social Offensive
• Putting Students First Act Seeks to
Enshrine Executive Rule - Enver Villamizar
• Liberals and Conservatives Agree to Amend
Teachers and Education
Militantly Reject Reactionary Assault on Their Rights
• Unions Oppose McGuinty's Putting Students
• School Boards Oppose Legislation
For Your Information
• Status of Negotiations
• Provocations Escalate - Christine
• Implementation of Education "Roadmap"
Against Broader Public Sector - Sylvia Etts
All Out to Defend the Rights of Teachers
and Education Workers!
Defeat the Liberal-Conservative
On August 28, teachers and education workers will be
workers from all walks of life at Queen's Park in front of the
Legislature to protest the attacks the McGuinty government is launching
against them. There is also a rally in Thunder Bay while across
Ontario, those who cannot be at Queen's Park
are protesting by staying away from the schools for the day.
Ontario Political Forum
calls on everyone to oppose McGuinty's
proposed legislation that dictates the working conditions of teachers
and sets the public system of education up for privatization. The
legislation includes the reconvening of the Legislature two weeks early
to circumvent the rights of teachers and
education workers to determine their future. It pits them against
students by depicting them as threatening the education system. All of
this must be opposed with utmost contempt. Teachers and education
workers play a fundamental role in the system and by stepping up their
organized resistance to rule by decree
they can make headway.
The organized resistance of the teachers and education
with all those fighting the anti-social offensive is particularly
important given the McGuinty government's shock-and-awe tactics that
are reinforced through the monopoly media to keep teachers and
education workers overwhelmed at the very
opening of the new school year. The legislation itself is called the Putting Students First Act but it
callously seeks to pit parents
and their children against teachers and education workers. Shame! What
way is this for a government to treat teachers and education workers?
What does it say about building a society
that treats its workers and people with dignity?
Besides the rally at
Queen's Park in defence of their rights, teachers and education workers
can make sure neither the Liberals nor Conservatives can win another
seat in the Legislature by voting to defeat them in the by-elections in
Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughn. This can be achieved if everyone takes a
stand that these parties are the ones which overtly espouse the
neoliberal vision for society. In the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election,
workers from different sectors of the economy, including some teachers,
are taking up practical politics to
defeat the neoliberal agenda currently led by the Liberals and
Progressive Conservatives. By doing so, a definite stand is taken
against the neoliberal vision for society that is wrecking
public education and public right in all sectors of the economy. It is
also a way to build the independent politics of the working class
through careful assessment and summation of developments. It requires
taking up social responsibility to solve the crisis in a manner which
favours the people, not the rich.
Ontario Political Forum
strongly encourages teachers and education
workers to take up this work themselves so that the McGuinty Liberals
and Progressive Conservatives will be held accountable for their
legislation against them and the public education system. It will also
make sure that teachers and education
workers are organized to deal with developments in the future. All out
to defeat the neoliberal vision for society! Step up the organized
resistance to attacks on teachers and education workers!
Putting Students First Act Seeks
to Enshrine Executive Rule
The McGuinty government's Putting Students First Act
goes much further than imposing
concessionary parameters on unions. If passed, it would give broad
arbitrary powers to the Cabinet to control negotiations, completely
undermining the system of collective bargaining as it currently exists.
on certain issues would be permitted between employees and employers,
the Cabinet would still have final say on all agreements, and strikes,
lock-outs and conciliation would be made illegal. This legislation
represents the executive's usurpation of the power of the Legislature
Labour Relations Board in order to impose the government's schemes to
pay the rich. It is similar to measures being taken by the Harper
strengthen the arbitrary powers of Ministers of the Crown in the name
of "public security" or the "national interest" in order to criminalize
resistance and eliminate the powers of elected
and appointed bodies at various levels which might otherwise have the
ability to block the government's plans.
McGuinty's draft legislation
permits the Minister to
that Cabinet reject or change a collective agreement reached between
local school boards and unions based on his/her "opinion," even if the
agreement is in line with government parameters. Cabinet would have the
to add terms to collective agreements, order
any term or condition in a collective agreement inoperative,
require the parties to negotiate a new collective agreement, and "do
anything else [Cabinet] determines is necessary in the circumstances."
Section 10, which relates to the imposition of a "wage freeze," gives
Cabinet an independent and freestanding authority
to impose by regulation a collective agreement on a locally elected
school board and its employees, that supercedes all other provisions of
Act. There are no limitations in the regulatory authority given to
Cabinet in this area.
The powers put in place would be in effect for up to
years. It is likely the legislation is being rolled out as a new
standard to be tested in Ontario so that it can be used to violate the
rights of all across Canada. It appears that the Liberals will be able
to pass the legislation with the support of the Hudak Conservatives.
This reaffirms the need to defeat both the Liberals and Conservatives
in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election in order to block them from
obtaining a mandate
for this sweeping violation of rights.
Liberals and Conservatives Agree to Amend Legislation
The McGuinty Liberals introduced the Putting
Students First Act,
Bill 115, into the Legislature Monday August 27. The Act was
first presented to the media August 20 while the Legislature was in
summer recess and amended a few days later in response to
concerns raised by the Hudak
The Ontario Ministry of Education statement says:
"...the diagnostic assessments and fair hiring
in the original draft of the Act will not be a required element for any
other union or board that has not already signed an agreement. That
means that our partners -- OECTA and Association des enseignantes et
des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) --
who have signed memorandums will be required to have those specific
terms included in local collective agreements. But other parties would
not unless they have signed an memorandum on or before Aug. 31."
Only 4 of the 72 school boards have signed. The request
hiring practices and control over diagnostic assessments was granted to
the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and AEFO
during meetings at the Provincial Discussion Table.
Those organizations which do not sign agreements with
boards by Friday, August 31 will be penalized and these two demands
will be denied.
The Ministry of Education further states:
"In addition, a new requirement has been introduced in
the Act that
would require the Minister of Education to submit any signed collective
agreements to the Speaker of the House and that they are posted online
within 14 days to enhance transparency and accountability."
This shows how hypocritical the political parties are --
impose conditions which serve a secret aim but post the so-called
agreements in the name of transparency and accountability.
Teachers and Education Workers Militantly
Reactionary Assault on Their Rights
Unions Oppose McGuinty's Putting Students First Act
On August 23, the
Presidents of the the Canadian Union of Public
Employees, Ontario Division (CUPE Ontario), the Ontario Secondary
Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and the
Elementary Teachers' Federation (ETFO) of Ontario held a joint press
conference to respond to the McGuinty government's announcement that it
recalling the Legislature
on August 27 in order to introduce its Putting Students First Act.
They used the occasion to
call on everyone to stand
with teachers and education workers at a mass rally at Queen's Park on
Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario spoke on behalf of
the more than 55,000 education support workers he represents in the
province. He called the introduction of the legislation a "very
dangerous and highly political game." Hahn stated that the legislation
is a fundamental attack on democracy, that it is quite disturbing
and "frankly reminiscent of the legislative and accountability fiascos
the people of Ontario have seen from this government around the G20 and
the ORNGE Air Ambulance service."
Referring to the "savings"
the government hopes to reap
by imposing its parameters on the claims of the teachers and education
workers with the legislation Hahn stated: "The
Liberals want you to believe they are protecting education. How can
they claim that when they are cutting over $2 billion from a system
entrusted with educating future generations? Money
gone is money gone -- a cut is a cut -- and surely that is true even in
He indicated that his union will challenge the proposed
legislation -- to the Supreme Court, if necessary, "because this goes
against everything the people of Ontario believe in." Discussing the
legislation in relation to the Ontario by-elections taking place, he
stated: "It is no coincidence that this manufactured crisis
is happening at the same time as by-elections in Kitchener-Waterloo and
Vaughan. Why else would the Minister of Education do media for an
entire day in Kitchener-Waterloo on proposed legislation when the
Legislature isn't even in session? This is the kind of self interested,
cynical politics that people can see
right through. It's far worse than moving a power plant," he added.
ETFO President Sam Hammond
spoke on behalf of the 76,000 teachers and education professionals his
union represents. He stated: "This legislation goes far beyond any wage
restraint or back-to-work legislation ever enacted in Ontario. It has
potentially negative implications on sectors beyond education that
also engage in lawful bargaining."
"The content of this legislation is alarming," said
Hammond. "It bans lawful collective bargaining activities in the
education sector for two -- and possibly three -- years. It seeks to
the actions of this government beyond the review of the Ontario Labour
Relations Board, outside the reach of the Ontario Human
Rights Commission, and even above the courts."
"One thing everyone should understand is that whatever
the real target is, you can't take hundreds of millions of dollars out
of education and pretend it will have no impact on schools," he warned.
OSSTF President Ken Coran, speaking on behalf of more
than 60,000 members, most of them high school teachers or support staff
in elementary and secondary schools, stated: "It has become clear that
the crisis the Ontario government has created in education is not about
putting students first. It's about bypassing
the democratically elected local school board trustees who, as our
members' employers, have historically achieved negotiated agreements."
"It's about attacking teachers, support staff, anyone
who works in public education. It's an attack on middle class workers
who neither caused the economic challenges that the government faces
today, nor whom should bear the full burden of fixing the government's
deficit. It's about political opportunism, a cynical
attempt to secure a majority government through two upcoming
by-elections on the first week of September," continued Coran.
"The Ontario government has recklessly scared parents
into thinking that there will be disruptions at the beginning of the
school year, despite our consistent message that our members will be
back in the classroom. There has been no threat of a strike. There are
laws governing negotiations; we are following those
rules; McGuinty wants to create new rules."
"This legislation is an affront to all workers in
Ontario, unionized and non-unionized, private and public sector. The
right to negotiate is protected by our laws and, if passed, we will
mount a legal challenge to this unprecedented and undemocratic
legislation," concluded Coran.
School Boards Oppose Legislation
On August 16, Ontario's
school board associations issued a joint statement opposing the
government's legislation. The Association des conseils scolaires des
écoles publiques de l'Ontario (ACEPO), Association
franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques (AFOCSC), Ontario
Catholic School Trustees'
Association (OCSTA) and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association
(OPSBA) stated that the "proposed legislation to dictate the terms and
processes for labour negotiations in Ontario's public schools attempts
to infringe upon the democratic role and historic success of education
in this province.
"The bargaining process currently in place in Ontario
works when school board employers and employees can sit down together
to negotiate issues best understood by those parties [...] [We]strongly
oppose any legislation that would supersede the local collective
bargaining process. School boards and their local
employee groups understand the needs of students in their communities
and have the moral and legal responsibility to represent their
Their joint statement goes on to say that the proposed
legislation "attempts to over-ride several important pieces of
legislation that have governed rights and protected citizens over many
decades. The content of the proposed legislation does not put students
first, despite its title.
"We feel strongly that the parents of Ontario expect
school boards to protect the quality of education in the classroom and
the future of the education system by making decisions that are not
driven by political expediency but are focused squarely on what is in
the best interests of students and teachers in the
"Our Associations agree with the concerns that have been
expressed publicly by Directors, Supervisory Officers, trustees and
school boards around the elimination of professional development days,
the restrictions placed on the system-wide use of diagnostic assessment
data, the introduction of seniority as a key
determining factor in the hiring practice, the removal of the
enhancement monies in order to achieve financial targets and,
specifically in regards to the AEFO agreement, the supervision
"School boards in this province are committed to doing
their part in Ontario's current fiscal climate, but cannot and will not
endorse a course of action that jeopardizes the education of students
and the role of school boards in the democratic process.
"We urge the government to respect the law and to work
in an environment of mutual respect with its partners in education."
For Your Information
Status of Negotiations
Since the Ontario government began the Provincial
process in February of 2012, three of the 21 unions involved in the
education negotiations -- the Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers'
Association (OECTA), the Association des enseignants and enseignantes
franco-ontariens (AEFO) and the
Association of Professional Student Services Personnel -- have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the province. AEFO members
have yet to ratify the provincial MOU with membership votes being held
locally until August 30. The remaining 18 unions have local unions
involved in local bargaining
with elected school boards, their employers.
Only four of the 72 school boards in the province -- the
York Region Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk and Huron-Superior Catholic Boards
-- have submitted to the agreement signed between the government and
OECTA. In announcing a motion passed by the Huron-Superior Catholic
Board indicating its intention
to sign on to the "roadmap," the McGuinty government used the occasion
to try to whip up hysteria about impending strikes and step-up its
blackmail against school boards and unions stating: "boards have just
over one week to work with their local bargaining units to sign local
agreements consistent with the OECTA
memorandum of understanding."
OSSTF Cancels Strike Votes
Also on August 27, Ken
Coran, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation
(OSSTF) announced that the federation is postponing its strike votes in
all bargaining units across the province except those in which
conciliation is sought by the board.
"OSSTF is actively engaged in local bargaining with a
school boards to achieve collective agreements that can be ratified
locally. We are making progress bargaining with our employers and we no
longer need to proceed with strike votes at this time unless a board
seeks conciliation. Since our strike
votes were announced at the end of June, there have been many
developments related to bargaining and we are adjusting our actions
accordingly," Coran stated.
1. The 18 unions that have not
reached an agreement with the province are: Elementary Teachers
Federation of Ontario (ETFO); Ontario Secondary School Teachers
Federation (OSSTF); Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Canadian
Auto Workers (CAW); Canadian Office and Professional Employees' Union
(COPE); Custodial and Maintenance Association (CAMA); Dufferin Peel
Education Resource Workers Association; Essex and Kent Counties Skilled
Trades Council; Halton District Educational Assistants Association;
Huron Perth Custodians Association; Labourers' International Union of
North America (LIUNA); Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades
Council (MCSTC); Media Support Specialists Association (MSSA); Ontario
Public Service Employees' Union (OPSEU); Educational Resource
Facilitators of Peel; Service Employees International Union (SEIU);
UNITE HERE; Waterloo Region Education Assistants' Association.
Ontario College Faculty Negotiations
On July 19, the Ontario
Public Service Union (OPSEU) Colleges Bargaining Team applied to the
Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for a conciliator to assist in
resolving conflict because of the College Employer Council's refusal to
negotiate. The Council is now
that the conciliator advise the Minister of Labour that conciliation
has failed. It continues to refuse to negotiate using the accepted
parameters and tools for collective bargaining.
The Council has called for what is referred to as a "No
Board" report. It means that the conciliator will inform the Ministry
of Labour that an agreement cannot be reached and that the Minister of
Labour will not appoint a conciliation board -- hence a "No Board"
report. More importantly, 17 days after the no-board report is issued,
the union is in a legal job action position and
the employer in a lock-out position or, as is the Council's preferred
method, the imposition of their regressive offer. According to OPSEU,
this could happen as early as September 18.
"College Faculty have worked hard at negotiating a
contract before the beginning of the school year and The Colleges'
decision to request a No Board causes the greatest possible amount of
disruption for students," said Ted Montgomery, College Faculty
Co-chair. "We don't believe they had any intention of reaching
a reasonable agreement with faculty before the start of the school
year. It is clear from their timing that they planned to file a No
Board all along," he said.
In recent developments, the OLRB announced that OPSEU's
strike mandate vote would be changed from September 6 to September 10.
OPSEU is calling on its college faculty members to arm their
bargaining team with a strong yes
vote to force the colleges to negotiate. "College management may be
hoping either to impose these demands upon us or to win them through a
forced offer vote, as happened in 2010 by a 51% margin," said
Montgomery. "A strong strike vote will add to the pressure required to
prevent these demands from being
Meanwhile, the Council is creating hysteria in the media
of an impending strike at the province's 24 colleges. Ms. Del Missier,
the Colleges' Bargaining Team and Vice-President Academic at Cambrian
College, was quoted as saying: "We have asked the union to cancel its
September 10 strike vote. The union
has the power to avoid a strike by calling off its strike vote and,
instead, work with us to reach a settlement. A strike vote won't make
the union's demands more affordable and it won't get the colleges any
more money. Faculty have to consider carefully the impact if they vote
to strike. A strike mandate will give
the union the ability to trigger a province-wide strike with just five
The employer is refusing to settle the issues of better
partial-load faculty, academic freedom so that teachers rather than
management bean counters determine how courses are delivered, and an
update to the workload formula to address increased online learning.
The colleges are also attempting to introduce a new classification --
nursing clinical facilitator -- that targets nursing professors'
and job security as a model job classification. A college professor
points out on his blog that the classification "would take a
significant amount of teaching away
from professors, and assign it to facilitators who lack job security,
overtime, benefits, or an hourly rate that compares to faculty wages."
professor states the proposal "is hateful abuse of nurses who just
happen to be 90
per cent women ...." She goes on to say that the nursing professors
need to rise up against these regressive measures. The current proposal
would restrict facilitators to nursing programs
for now, but this new category would open the door for facilitators in
any program that has a clinical, studio, lab, or field placement
1. See Ontario Political Forum, August 2,
2012 - No. 43.
Implementation of Education "Roadmap"
Against Broader Public Sector
The McGuinty government,
backed by Hudak Conservative anti-worker politicians, wants to pass the
Students First Act to deny collective bargaining rights and
government parameters on teachers and education workers in the
elementary and secondary schools. Meanwhile, the Colleges Employer
Council has taken up Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's call to use the
arrangements imposed on the education sector as the "roadmap" for the
entire Broad Public Service (BPS). The colleges are striving to lead
the pack in using this anti-worker "roadmap" against all public sector
workers in Ontario.
The Council has been
conditions since bargaining meetings began in June to refuse to
"collectively" bargain, to manipulate the process, with the plan to
impose conditions on the college faculty as they have done since the
McGuinty government created the revised Colleges Collective
Bargaining Act (CCBA). The changes made to the CCBA, modelled
on the Ontario Labour Relations
Act, reduced the bargaining powers of
the union. The McGuinty government's "modernization" of labour
relations provides a guarantee for their neoliberal, anti-worker
agenda in the college sector. This
time they are striving to do so with the help of the Drummond Report
and Dwight Duncan's dictate against public services and the workers who
The speed of events orchestrated by these government
administrators, like the Council, is designed to cause chaos and
confusion amongst the college faculty and society as a whole.
In order to achieve their aim of an imposed offer,
allowed under the CCBA, the Council, through the
media and videos on their website, is creating the hysteria of an
impending strike at the 24 community colleges, using the typical
methods we have come to know in Ontario. It is doing this as the union
seeks a strike vote as part of the normal collective
In Ontario, the experience of college faculty, teachers
workers is that collective bargaining no longer provides
a mechanism to resolve their wages and working conditions or
protect the services they provide as is their right under various
labour laws and acts.
Governments, politicians and their representatives (the
employers) have to be held to account. By opposing these shock-and-awe
attacks to our working lives, we need to sort out ways to get
our bearings and create space to defend our rights and the
rights of all.
The destruction of the collective bargaining process by
the McGuinty government, with the support of the Hudak Conservatives,
shows that education workers and other public sector workers now
face the task of taking up political opposition to the attacks on
the services they provide. The austerity
measures of the McGuinty government budget and the dictate of Finance
Minister Dwight Duncan deny collective bargaining rights, impose
government parameters, and attack the wages, working conditions,
and pensions of the workers, in order to steal billions from social
programs to pay the monopolies
in the form of debt and deficit financing and direct payouts.
The Kitchener-Waterloo by-election is an opportunity for
all workers in Ontario to exercise political expression against the
neoliberal agenda of the McGuinty Liberals and the Hudak Conservatives.
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