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Charter Challenge (Your Federation)

On October 11, 2012 ETFO filed a  court  challenge  against  the Ontario government’s Bill 115 on grounds that the law, which strips the education sector of its right to bargain collectively, violates rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “We  want all  Ontarians to  understand that  the  Canadian  Charter  of  Rights  and Freedoms exists to protect the rights of  individuals, even when governments seek to override them. That is the strength and back-bone of democracy in Canada,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. Similar  challenges  are  being  filed  by the  Ontario  Secondary  School  Teachers’ Federation  (OSSTF),  Canadian  Union  of Public  Employees  (CUPE)  Ontario,  and the   Ontario   Public   Service   Employees Union  (OPSEU). Lawyers for  the  groups hope to have the challenges heard together by the court.

Mobilizing Members Across the Province

The participation, motivation, and action of members across the province  have  been  inspiring  media coverage and fuelling a successful and energetic campaign in support of  fair collective bargaining and a repeal of Bill 115. Letters to the editor, rallies, information pickets, and meetings have all had a tremendous impact. Here are some highlights. KINGSTON ETFO  Picket Hot  Topic  at Business Conference On October 12, we organized an information picket in Kingston, intended to slow the traffic of business leaders going into a meeting on “jobs and prosperity” with Dalton McGuinty. Many business leaders attending the meeting, which was sponsored by the Kingston Economic Development Corp., showed support for our cause and spoke with us as they arrived. Our picket was the hot topic among guests inside the Holiday Inn, while outside we stole the show speaking with the media. During  McGuinty’s  speech,  we  were  loud enough to be heard from the street. That was thanks to Erin Blair, from the Upper Canada Teacher Local, who brought his bagpipes. Executive member Deb Wells was able to work her magic from inside the hotel, securing a meeting with the premier. Deb Wells, Diane Dewing, Deputy General  Secretary Marilies Rettig, and I met with Dalton McGuinty for about half an hour. He asked us how teachers were feeling, so we told him in a professional but candid way, using concrete examples. We indicated that our provincial leadership is always prepared to meet. Big  thanks  to  all  the  ETFO  members who  were able  to  attend  our  information picket, including eastern Ontario occasional teacher  and  teacher  local  presidents  who sent released leaders and members, some of whom drove a long way to stand in the cold for hours; Allison Ryan from Renfrew; Marg Merpaw and Erin Blair from Upper Canada; Pierre Martin and colleagues from Hastings– Prince Edward; Karen Chow from Hastings– Prince Edward OTs; Sylvia van Campen from Upper Canada OTs; and many others. Thank you for your dedication and support. Mike Lumb, PresidenLimestone Teacher Local   BLUEWATER Great Day  to Delay the  Minister October 19 was a warm, sunny day – perfect weather for a protest rally outside the Outdoor  Education Centre (OEC)  in Wiarton where  Minister of Education Laurel Broten was speaking in celebration of the OEC’s fortieth anniversary. Surprisingly, the organizers of the ETFO rally were contacted the day prior to the event and advised that the minister would be willing to meet with two union reps for a few minutes at the event. On the day, representatives from Bluewater Teachers and OTs, York Region Teachers, Simcoe County Teachers and OTs, and OSSTF Teachers and OTs lined the road leading to the centre. Flags, protest signs, chants, and honking horns set the mood. Shortly after her arrival, the minister met with Bluewater Teacher Local Vice-President Barb   Balderston   and   Bluewater   OSSTF Teacher   President  Betty-Jo  Raddin.  They spent  15  minutes  reiterating  their  disappointment with Bill 115, but the minister did not budge from the  Liberal position of assault on teachers’ hard-won collective agreement entitlements. Along with delaying the celebrations for over 20 minutes, the protest received good coverage in the Owen Sound Sun Times the following day. Nancy Lawler, President, Bluewater Teacher Local   ALGOMA Teachers Dismiss Orazietti On  Saturday,  September  15,  nearly  400 members travelled to Sault Ste. Marie from all parts of our very large district to participate in a strike vote and rally at MPP David Orazietti’s office. Members came from as far north as Hornepayne and from Elliott Lake in the east, to send the strong message that it is not business as usual! They cast ballots, marched with members from CUPE, OSSTF, OSPEU, CAW, the Sault Ste. Marie Labour Council, and parents, and delivered letters, report cards, and even character education packages to Orazietti. Orazietti, a  former  teacher and  OSSTF local  president,  responded  by  engaging in public  media  attacks on  us  and  spreading misinformation through the media and paid ads about negotiations, teacher salaries, and benefits. We have responded with TV interviews and frequent letters to the editor from retired teachers, concerned students, parents, and myself. Our mobilized members ensured that front-page articles dominated the papers with headlines, such as “Teachers Take to the Street,” “Teachers to  Orazietti – Shame on You!,” “Teachers Dismiss  Orazietti,” “Teachers Vow to Remove Orazietti Come Election Time,”  and  “Teachers  Give  Overwhelming Strike Mandate.” Kelly Holley, PresidenAlgoma Teacher Local   LONDON If  R is for  “Runaround” then V is for “Vindication” On October 11, the London–Fanshawe Liberal Association had booked two possible venues for its annual fundraiser, the Four Points Sheraton and the Marconi Club. Their “special guest” was unannounced, but it was likely Premier McGuinty. The Liberals went to great lengths to keep the actual location of the event from the public because they were concerned about teacher and union protests. After a last-minute change of venue, the organizer of the event was interviewed by the media at the Four Points while our rally took place alongside. Other event organizers were seen at the hotel scurrying to their cars and packing up Liberal brochures and banners. As it turns out, the event was cancelled very late in the afternoon on October 11. Despite the runaround, we were joined by approximately 300  protestors from  ETFO, CUPE,  ATU,  and  other  members  of  the broader  labour  community. We were also joined  by  colleagues  from  Greater  Essex, Lambton Kent, Upper Grand, Grand Erie, and Halton. ETFO and  CUPE  persevered, got  our message out through the media, and saw an important Liberal fundraiser cancelled as a result. Our success and vindication are a credit to the collective tenacity of ETFO members and our friends in the broader la- bour movement. Craig Smith, Vice-PresidenThames Valley Teacher Local   WINDSOR Bill  115: A Call  to Action by Greater Essex There is a reason why the word great exists in the name of Greater Essex: our teachers. With every call to action, they have mobilized with strength, heart, and unwavering commitment. Our local’s plan began with information meetings immediately following the passing of Bill 115 on September 11. The focus: to provide a contextual overview of Bill 115, its implications, and our next steps. The objective: the repeal of Bill 115. Our message: Solidarity is a must, both in voice and in action. With this foundation in place, we began our work. This has included political rallies and letters to the editor; “black Mondays;” letters to  MPPs; lunchtime demonstrations and  after-school  information  pickets.  And more: neighbourhood drops of ETFO’s parent pamphlets; amassing ETFO’s petition; visiting MPPs’ offices; local radio and newspaper ads; media releases; bumper stickers and wrist bands; picket signs; and an executive decision that all local committee work include a political message or action around Bill 115. Still to come: a local Facebook; a presentation to local trustees to join in the repeal of Bill 115; a joint forum on this bill with the OSSTF local; and outreach to various organizations. And this is just the beginning! It is in moments of challenge that we truly define ourselves. The teachers of Greater Essex are defining their greatness. Adelina Cecchin, PresidenGreater Essex Teacher Local   SPECIAL MEETING OF LOCAL PRESIDENTS AND CHIEF NEGOTIATORS CALLED President Sam Hammond called a special meeting of local presidents and chief negotiators on November 23,2012 to discuss the upcoming months in light of recent developments in negotiations.  Local presidents affirmed that ETFO will stand strong and united in the defence of our principles and our demand that Bill 115 be stopped in order to allow for free and fair collective bargaining.   UNION SCHOOL 2012 ETFO’s seventh Union School for local leaders got underway in October. Union School is an intensive and transformative year-long leadership development opportunity, and part of ETFO’s ongoing commitment to building the capacity of ETFO locally and provincially. Participants strengthen their skills and knowledge about collective bargaining, communications, conflict resolution, using technology effectively, emotional intelligence, equity and social justice issues, labour relations, legal responsibilities, and member engagement and support.   FALL REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL, NIAGARA FALLS The October Representative Council meeting of local presidents focused on strategies for mobilizing to oppose Bill 115. With overwhelmingly positive local strike votes in hand, President Sam Hammond outlined a plan that includes the escalation of our response to the government, a communications campaign that will continue to impact locally and provincially, and sustained action on the local level. “The reality is that the McGuinty government has mishandled discussions with teachers from the very start. We will not stand by and have our rights legislated away,” Hammond said.   OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHEER THANKS ETFO The October Representative Council meeting of local presidents focused on strategies for mobilizing to oppose Bill 115. With overwhelmingly positive local strike votes in hand, President Sam Hammond outlined a plan that includes the escalation of our response to the government, a communications campaign that will continue to impact locally and provincially, and sustained action on the local level. “The reality is that the McGuinty government has mishandled discussions with teachers from the very start. We will not stand by and have our rights legislated away,” Hammond said.

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