President’s Memo – October, 2018
This Memo is composed by Leslie Wolfe and reflects the positions and actions of the OSSTF Toronto Teachers’ Bargaining Unit Executive.
OSSTF Toronto All-Member Telephone Town Hall
As was reported in my first President’s Memo, the Executive has been working on a plan to engage Members and our natural allies as we begin to build capacity to push back against the Ford agenda where we can, and toward the next election and a Ford-free Toronto. To that end, an initial plan has been established and endorsed by the District Executive.
As per the information in the all-member email sent last week, on Tuesday October 30 at 7 pm, District/TBU President Leslie Wolfe, OT President Linda Bartram and PSSP President Olga Di Melo are holding an all-member telephone town hall meeting to talk about the potential impact of the Ford Government on our jobs and schools.
We will provide an analysis of the Ford Government’s recent line by line financial analysis entitled Managing Transformation A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario as it may pertain to our jobs and our schools, along with information about how we intend to move forward as a District in this climate.
The call-in instructions will be provided in a separate email on Monday, October 29.
Municipal Election 2018 – results we can work with
On behalf of the entire Membership, many thanks must go to those OSSTF Toronto members who gave up their day jobs during the election period, and took up our call to go to work on the campaigns of endorsed candidates across the City. No one knows better than another teacher the amount of that must be undertaken to prepare for an absence, and when those absences are a couple of days a week, it adds up! Thanks must also go to those who volunteered on their own time. Each of you can be proud that you stepped up to do the heavy lifting on behalf of the union and your fellow Members.
In addition, to those who voted to support endorsed candidates for TDSB and City Council, thank you as well. Member engagement and union solidarity in this regard have provided us with results we can definitely work with over the next four years.
At the TDSB
Of the 15 CPE-endorsed candidates, 9 were elected, a respectable 60% success rate at a time when political volatility seems to be the trend. In addition to the 9 we supported there are at least another 5 either newly elected or re-elected that we know to be at least progressive-friendly.
A letter of congratulations is being sent to each of the Trustees, with an extension to a meeting with the President in the near future so that they can learn a bit more about who OSSTF Toronto represents, and to discuss where our roles may intersect to protect publicly funded education.
At City Council
While we have less direct contact with City Council, this election was made an exception in terms of our involvement because of its unique nature thanks to the Ford Gerrymandering earlier in the fall. Of the 16 Labour-Council endorsed candidates, 8 were successful, with another 6 either elected or re-elected who are known not to be water-carriers for Doug Ford. In fact, if we were to measure success simply by the ouster of Ford cheer leaders, we can take hope from the fact that of the 25 elected, only two can be so-labelled – his nephew Michael, and long-time Etobicoke Council rep Stephen holyday.
Jennifer Keesmaat’s candidacy was always a long-shot, yet in endorsing her we supported a candidate who ultimately forced Mayor-elect Tory to defend his record. In the end end, during his victory speech and in post-election media interviews Tory acknowledged more has to be done in relation to affordable housing and to ensure all neighbourhoods in Toronto feel heard and a part of the City.
Finally, one extremely disturbing fact of the election cannot go without comment: The some 25000 (3.4%) votes garnered by known white supremacist and neo-Nazi Faith Goldy. Some might dismiss this with the word “only” in front of her numbers, but we ignore at our peril the fact that racism and hatred are very much alive in Toronto. This is likely not a surprise to our colleagues and students whose identities make them vulnerable to hate-mongering, but to have it starkly spelled out in the cumulative cold numbers of this vote count should make it impossible for all of us to ignore. There is much to admire about our City, but obviously there is still much work to be done.
Executive School Visits – We want to hear from you
We are in a new political era under Ford. For many it feels like we are just waiting for the first boot to drop. We know this government is bent on spending cuts and privatization, but we aren’t yet sure what that means for bargaining, or our schools and jobs. Unless something changes, we have bargaining coming up next year. You may have something you want to share with us about what’s happening in your schools, and your classrooms as well. We want to hear from you.
Over the next few weeks Members of the TTBU Executive will be at your school for a Branch Meeting intended to provide Members with the opportunity to talk to Members of the Executive about issues and ideas that are on your mind.
There will be pizza, and the opportunity for us to listen, and you to speak.
Check with your Branch President to confirm the visit-date scheduled for your school/worksite.
Repeal of Labour Rights/potential impact on OSSTF Members
As promised by Premier Ford, on October 23 legislation was tabled that would effectively gut the Employment Standards Act of the gains made for working people in Ontario. Some of the changes may directly impact on OSSTF Members.
Over a four year period, OSSTF worked in partnership with labour organizations and community activists across the province to effect greater protections for the most precariously employed members of our communities, those who are often the parents of our students, or our students themselves.
Despite the Tory mantra, the list of who ‘The People’ are that they are governing for is becoming woefully short. With this most recent legislation, the Ford Tories have proven they have no real interest in workers, or their children, and that they are only going to listen to the powerful business lobby.
What OSSTF Members stand to lose if Bill 148 is repealed:
Salaried Members will lose:
In addition, OSSTF Non-salaried and some OTBU Members stand to lose:
OSSTF Toronto will continue to engage with our partners in the broader labour movement, and with community activists to fight for the right to fair working conditions for all workers, including our Members, our students and their families.
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