I’d like to start by thanking you. It’s been a long and stressful 14 months of central bargaining for members.
Bargaining New Collective Agreements (From the President)
For ETFO the October provincial election was a success story: we worked hard to ensure the election of a majority of education-friendly candidates and that goal was accomplished with the election of 53 Liberals and 17 New Democrats.
Our success took all of us working together. The staff and executive in the provincial office, each of you and your local leadership teams, and a strong local-provincial partnership fully dedicated to making a difference for our members. We will need to sustain that collaboration as we now shift our focus to collective bargaining.
In addition to our election activities, throughout the past year we were working on a collective bargaining strategy.
Starting last winter we asked members for their bargaining priorities. Provincial staff collated and analyzed responses to the collective bargaining survey and developed bargaining goals. These were approved by local presidents at the October meeting of Representative Council. You can see them in full in the collective bargaining column on page 7.
We know that of all the teacher federations in the province we have the biggest challenge heading into this round of negotiations.
We fully anticipate that, as was the case in 2004 and 2008, we will once again be approached to engage in a provincial bargaining process. Local presidents have received the principles that will guide our participation and we will make every effort to ensure that any provincial process adheres to them. As well, if a provincial table agreement is reached it will be subject to an all-member vote.
Success in the next round of bargaining will require the government to commit additional financial resources in a difficult economy. In the current economic climate, it will be a challenge to forestall cuts to public education. The ETFO executive has approved a public relations campaign which will aim to build public support for continued investment in education.
We have also begun collective bargaining education. We have developed a comprehensive training program for local leaders and bargainers to enhance our capacity to bargain strong collective agreements. Member education will focus on underlining the importance of your collective agreements and the importance of solidarity. We hope you will become involved in the bargaining process and support your bargaining team.
In bargaining there are two options. One is to let others take charge. The other – and for us the only option – is to work together to control the future. From this moment forward we must be united in facing the challenges that lie ahead. We are facing the biggest bargaining challenge that we have ever taken on. Bargaining only succeeds when members are engaged, fully informed, and personally involved in the process.
You are the key to successful negotiations. With your support and solidarity there is nothing that we cannot achieve.
As I write this column, central bargaining for teachers and occasional teachers has ceased and ETFO members have begun “Phase 1” of a province-wide, work-to-rule strike action that started on May 11.