During the 2009 March break, 11 elementary teachers travelled to Guatemala — a trip during which we would teach and learn.
Annual Meeting 2013
Sam Hammond, Opening Remarks President Sam Hammond opened the 2013 annual meeting by reflecting on ETFO’s important achievements. Not only did members take a stand for democracy and collective bargaining in Ontario, but ETFO also completed our brand new LEED Platinum building in downtown Toronto and continued to do incredibly important community work locally and internationally. Thanking members for their solidarity, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment to collective bargaining, Hammond reflected on the tremendous positive impact that ETFO has had on bargaining not only in Ontario, but across the country. “Our efforts and the efforts of our colleagues had a direct impact on how other provincial governments conducted negotiations with their education sectors.” “There is no higher principle to fight for than our democratic rights,” Hammond said. “With your actions, you defended collective bargaining rights for everyone, including the students who will need those rights when they enter the workforce in future.” Members’ commitment to their students, and to democracy, allowed ETFO to prevail this year. Looking forward Hammond concluded, “Together we will once again lead the way in defending our members and public education . . . and we will be a force to be reckoned with. As your president, as a union member, and as a strong believer in the importance of democratic collective action, I will work with all of you to strengthen and protect our federation and the labour movement as a whole."
Ilana Landsberg-Lewis Social Justice Speaker, Stephen Lewis Foundation In her keynote address, Landsberg-Lewis acknowledged the critical work that ETFO members do across the globe and brought thanks for ETFO’s financial contribution to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. “The help and contribution of ETFO members allows the foundation to reach 200,000 children each year,” Landsberg-Lewis said. Citing the critical work of teachers, she spoke of their important role in not only preventing the spread of HIV but also in supporting vulnerable children who have suffered tremendous loss as a result of the disease. Landsberg-Lewis concluded her presentation by saying, “know that you are a beacon of hope, as only teachers know how to be.” Terry Hamilton President Ontario Teachers' Federation Hamilton brought greetings from OTF and reflected on the perseverance of educators during a difficult year. He encouraged ETFO members to learn about the changes to the Teachers’ Pension Plan and to seek out other resources by visiting the OTF website. He concluded by saying that we must be prepared to fight the next election and continue to protect our members and the hard-fought rights we have achieved. Dianne Woloschuk President, Canadian Teachers’ Federation CTF president Dianne Woloschuk brought greetings on behalf of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, and a message of friendship and solidarity from 200,000 teachers across the country. She talked about the importance of democracy and the challenges we face as teacher organizations. She reflected on the blatantly anti-union policies supported by the Harper government and the importance of solidarity among educators and beyond. “Supporting and defending public education means supporting and defending educators and the broader social good,” Woloschuk said. Barbara Byers Executive, Canadian Labour Congress Vice-President Barbara Byers brought greetings on behalf of the officers and 3.3 million members of the CLC and spoke about a member engagement campaign called the “Together Fairness Works” initiative. This is the largest member engagement campaign the CLC and its affiliates have ever undertaken. She stated: “When union members are engaged in a conversation amongst themselves about their union, they realize how important it is to them. People need to rediscover the advantage of being a union member based on their own values. They need to rediscover the union advantage on their own terms and at their own pace, remembering that fairness works.”
President's Award: President Sam Hammond Recognizes Local Presidents In appreciation for their leadership, their unwavering solidarity, their passion, and tenacity in standing up to the government and Bill 115, President Sam Hammond gave the President’s Award to ETFO’s local presidents. “Bill 115 was a threat to the fundamental rights of all working people in Ontario. These presidents took a united stand and marshalled opposition to the bill through rallies, information pickets, and concerted actions,” said Hammond. “They sent a loud, clear message that governments in this province and across the country cannot trample the democratic rights of citizens. They continue to lead the way in strengthening public education in every school in the province.” Humanitarian award to non ETFO member: Barb Harrison Since 2009, Barb has worked with a school named Transform a Person Africa located in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums. She has raised funds to bring water into the facility, build a playground, provide a propane stove for cooking, and ensure children at the local orphanage have new shoes every year so that they can walk to school. Her efforts have also provided students with backpacks, school supplies, clothing, toothbrushes, and other personal items. Barb has also helped establish local income-generating projects to support the school and pay for teachers’ wages, school fees, and operating costs. Humanitarian award to ETFO member: Louise Bourassa, thames Valley A teacher at Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School, Louise began raising funds in 2009 to build the Muungano Special Needs School in Western Kenya through her Muungano Foundation. In addition to five classrooms and one staff office, she had a kitchen constructed off-site for staff to offer breakfast and lunch programs for students. New Member award: David Berger, Kawartha Pine Ridge Local A French teacher at James Strath public school, David makes learning fun through music in his classroom and by leading the school’s choir and volunteering his time to coach many extracurricular sports teams. As the union steward for his local, David provided much guidance, support, and communication to teachers in what was a very challenging year given the government’s imposition of Bill 115. His confidence, commitment, and caring helped ensure that teachers re- ceived support as they continued to carry out their teaching and su- pervisory duties. In his short teaching career, David has already been elected to the local executive of the Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local, and is a director of ETFO’s Humanity Fund and a member of the New Members Standing Committee at the provincial level. Health and Safety activist: Mark Butt, Simcoe County Health and safety is an evolving area for union activists and Mark has been on the front lines of ensuring that the Simcoe County District School Board and the Ministry of Labour fulfill their obligations for the safety of both students and ETFO members. As a released officer, Mark has been a member of the board’s joint health and safety committee since 2007. He performs numerous site inspections at schools to ensure that the workplace is safe, and follows up with principals to ensure that identified problems are corrected in a timely manner. From air quality to employee injuries and workplace violence, Mark is diligent in addressing issues, posting health and safety information on the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ Federation website, and writing relevant articles for each issue of its newsletter. Member Service and engagement award: Avon Maitland Teacher's Local + Peel Occasional Teacher's Local Under the leadership of President Merlin Leis, the executive of the Avon Maitland Teachers’ Local has made a concerted effort to continually reach out to its 560 members. It has encouraged younger and new members to become involved in the local’s executive and committees. Throughout the difficult bargaining climate this past year, the local’s transparency and comprehensive communications were the envy of other areas. Peel Elementary Occasional Teacher Local has built cohesion among its members through a number of initiatives. Under the leadership of Shelly Jan, the local holds and funds bi-monthly professional development workshops and provides funding for courses. Along with events that allow members to meet each other, the local provides numerous opportunities for member involvement in various committees and conferences, and keeps members informed through interactive communications, robo calls, website and email updates, and semi annual print newsletters. Honorary Life Memberships Honorary Life Memberships are ETFO’s highest form of recognition They are awarded to retired members who have given outstanding service to the federation. Congratulations to Louise Ewing, Jeff Holmes, Jan Moxey, Linda Rowatt, and Hilda Watkins. Executive Elections Two new members were elected to the provincial executive, Kelly Holley, president, Algoma Teacher Local, and David Mastin, vice-president, Durham Teacher Local. welcome to both, and a big thank you to Doug cook and Ellen Chambers who are stepping down from their positions on the executive. Farewell to Gene and Marilies The 2013 annual meeting marked the retirements of both General Secretary Gene Lewis, who has served ETFO since 1998, and Deputy General Secretary Marilies Rettig, who has been in her role since 2008. ETFO wishes both very happy retirements. Some articles are not as they originally appeared. To view the article in its original form go to the associated .PDF
When Mary Bell became the president of the Wisconsin teachers’ union in 2007, she didn’t envisage she’d be leading a grassroots battle agai