Feature

ETFO Annual Meeting 2011

The importance of the October provincial election and bargaining new collective agreements were President Sam Hammond's focus in his opening address to some 600 annual meeting delegates.

Hammond reminded delegates that the election outcome could have a significant impact on public education. He urged delegates to support candidates who had a proven track record of improving education and outlined the role the federation would play in the lead up to the vote. (The election results are now well known. ETFO’s public relations campaign also became well known, sparking lots of debate among members and the public. See page 17 for an overview).

As well, in the forthcoming year ETFO will be negotiating new teacher, occasional teacher, and ESP/PSP collective agreements. These agreements expire next August. ETFO is also negotiating first agreements for DECEs. Hammond reminded delegates of the gains made in previous rounds of bargaining and noted that “every round is hard when you are in it. In hindsight, when you look back, you recognize that you just didn't give yourself enough credit for achieving what many said were unattainable goals.”

“When we began bargaining in 2004 how many believed that 200 minutes of preparation time was achievable? ... Because of the solidarity of local leaders and the unwavering support of our members we negotiated the 200 minutes and achieved more.

"In the 2008 negotiations, facing the toughest economic climate ETFO has ever seen, our occasional teachers negotiated the highest raises ever achieved in a single round. Teachers maintained the integrity of their collective agreements, accepted no strips, improved benefits, and negotiated additional prep time."

“There is a lesson in this. Something we must never forget…In the face of adversity, we rise to the challenge. This is how we bargain; this is our heritage; this is what we do!

ETFO’s bargaining priorities were set with input from members and local leaders. The bargaining goals will be approved by local leaders at the October Representative Council meeting. The uncertain economic climate will make this round of bargaining challenging, Hammond said, adding that “bargaining only succeeds when members are engaged, fully informed, and personally involved in the process.”

Elections for the ETFO executive take place at the annual meeting every two years. The newly elected members will serve until 2013.

Sam Hammond, President
Sam Hammond was acclaimed to a second term as president of ETFO. Hammond was elected president in 2009. Prior to that he served one term as first vice-president and two terms as vice-president.

Hammond has a long history of federation involvement. From 1998 to 2003, he was the chief negotiator and grievance officer for the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local, a position he held when the local’s 2,300 members went through a 17-day strike/lockout in 2000.

A physical education teacher, Hammond has worked on numerous political campaigns and has been a long time member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Labour Council.

Susan Swackhammer, First Vice-President
Susan Swackhammer was acclaimed to the position of first vice-president, a position she has held since 2009. She was a member of the provincial executive from 2007 to 2009. A long- serving ETFO activist, Swackhammer was one of the founding executive members of ETFO and also held the position of first vice-president from 1998 to 2000. She is a classroom teacher.

Swackhammer is a former president of the Grand Erie Teacher Local. She was president of the Brant Teacher Local of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO – one of ETFO’s predecessor organizations) from 1991 to 1995 and began serving on the FWTAO provincial executive in 1995.

Maureen Weinberger, Vice-President, Female
Maureen Weinberger was acclaimed to a second term as vice- president, female. She was an ETFO executive member from 2007-2009. Weinberger served on the executive of the Halton Teacher Local since 1998 and was president from 2002 to 2009. Weinberger is a classroom teacher who has worked on numerous election campaigns and serves on the board of directors of Community Development Halton and as a member of Poverty Free Halton.

James McCormack, Vice-President
James McCormack was acclaimed to the position of vice- president. He served on the ETFO executive from 2009-2011.
McCormack, a classroom teacher, has been a local activist for many years serving in a variety of positions before becoming president of the Waterloo Region Teacher Local in 2002. He was also an executive member of the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF, one of ETFO’s predecessor organizations). He is a member of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council.

Executive Members

Rian McLaughlin
OTF Table Officer
President, Hamilton-Wentworth
Occasional Teacher Local

Karen Brown
Vice-President,
Elementary Teachers of Toronto Local

Adelina Cecchin
President, Greater Essex County
Teacher Local

Ellen Chambers
President,
Lakehead Teacher Local

Doug Cook
Chief Negotiator,
Upper Grand Teacher Local

Diane Dewing
President,
Upper Canada Occasional Teacher

Pamela Dogra
Executive Officer,
Elementary Teachers of Toronto Local

Nancy Lawler
President,
Bluewater Teacher Local

Monica Rusnak
President,
Ontario North East Teacher Local

Deb Wells
Vice-President,
Limestone Teacher Local

In Praise of Public Services

From heroes to zero – the reputations of public sector workers have been on a downward trajectory since 9/11. Speaking to ETFO’s annual meeting, Dr. Elaine Bernard reminded her audience that 10 years ago first responders were “celebrated as heroes” for their work after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. “They were protecting everyone. Today, they and other public sector workers are increasingly under attack – there have been more than 700 bills in the United States attacking public sector workers, said Bernard, the director of the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program. The decline in public regard for public sector workers intensified after the near collapse of the world economic system in 2008 and during the subsequent recession. The response of governments was to bail out the banks and financial institutions. “Since then the banks have recovered, but people have not.”

The resulting public dialogue has been about budget cutting and restraint. Public sector workers have come under attack with states stripping employees of the right to bargain collectively, of job security, and of pension and health care benefits. While the rationale is cost savings, the underlying motivation is to further reduce the power of unions, Bernard argued. Union membership among workers in the private sector has declined dramatically in the last two decades. Public sector workers – and educators in particular – are among the most densely unionized in North America today.

Bernard reminded delegates of the vital importance of the services that they and other public employees provide: clean drinking water, safe and clean streets, public schools, health care. These are a form of wealth, she argued. She went on to stress that it is not only the private sector that creates wealth. “The public sector creates public value. It doesn’t become wealth only when you privatize it.” Bernard believes that in our public discourse “we need to shift the terrain from budget cuts” and understand that “economic challenges require wise decisions and maintaining the quality of life in our community.”

She said that as citizens we need to talk about “shared responsibilities” and think of ourselves not as “tax paying consumers but as a civic-minded participants who share responsibility for how society will grow.”

JIM MCMAHON, ELAINE SALISBURY, and DAVID KENDALL were named ETFO Honorary life Members. The award is presented to members who have retired and have made outstanding contributions to the federation. Jim McMahon was a local president in the Niagara region before joining provincial staff in 1997. A negotiator, he specialized in member benefits and was also responsible for developing ETFO’s credit course program. Elaine Salisbury was instrumental in helping unionize occasional teachers and was the founding president of the North York Occasional Teacher Local. In 1998 she became the first president of the Toronto Occasional Teacher Local. David Kendall is a former president of the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation and long time ETFO staff member in Protective Services, serving in key roles as an ETFO negotiator.

ELLEN CHAMBERS, president of the Lakehead Teacher Local, received the 2011 President’s Award. The recipient is chosen by the ETFO president in recognition of contributions to the federation and to public education. In presenting the award, ETFO President Sam Hammond said, “Not only has Ellen worked tirelessly on behalf of her local and ETFO members, she has dedicated her efforts to fostering communities at both national and local levels that are free of racism and discrimination.” Chambers received the ETFO Humanitarian Award in 2006 for her work in combatting antigay bullying. She told that story in the June 2011 issue of Voice; etfovoice.ca/site/back-issues/2010-2011.

Every year ETFO honours members and community activists who make outstanding contributions to the federation and to their communities. KIT and AL MCDONOUGH received the Humanitarian Award for a Non-ETFO Member. For 20 years, the couple have sponsored Ready to Read, a community program that provides books for newborn babies in the Niagara region.

STEVE MCGRALL of the Lambton Kent Teacher Local received the Humanitarian Award for an ETFO Member. Steve and his wife, Lisa, created Kylie’s Kause, a walk/run and silent auction held each July in the McGrails’ hometown, Wyoming. By 2010 their project had generated $235,375 for the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jospeh’s Hospital in London, Ontario.

JOHN RITCHIE of the Upper Grand Occasional Teacher Local won the local Website of the year Award. The website ugot.org provides a wide range of information for OTs. Ritchie also sends out an e-newsletter and has recently introduced a link to ETFO’s Twitter.

KWABENA FRIMPONG of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto Local received the 2011 award for Innovative Projects on behalf of Children living in Poverty. Frimpong is an itinerant behaviour resource teacher who is helping students in the community where he works and in his homeland, Ghana. Frimpong has worked actively to support students and parents in his school community leading a community support group and heading a youth mentoring program. Along with his local, he has raised funds to help rebuild the dilapidated 60-year-old school building he once attended in Ghana.

CATHRYN (CAT) MORGAN won the Children’s literature Award for her book GrrrOUCH! Pain Is Like a Grouchy Bear. The award recognizes quality literature that is in keeping with ETFO’s positions on social justice and equity. A primary teacher for 28 years with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Morgan partnered with Canadian watercolour artist Crystal Beshara to produce a nonfiction picture book about coping with pain. The book serves as a resource for those working with families, and dealing with illness, accidents, traumatic events, and emotionally charged situations.

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