One of the challenges writing for a magazine is recognizing that I have to focus on the distant horizon; I can’t necessarily address the issues that are important to me when I write.
Your Federation: Representative Council, Together Fairness Works, Submission to pre-Budget Hearing
REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL FEBRUARY 5-6, 2014 More than 180 people attended February Representative Council, including 35 members of this year’s Union School. President Sam Hammond welcomed members to the meeting and highlighted the ongoing work at provincial office including preparation for the next round of collective bargaining, continued discussions with the government regarding Bill 122, ETFO’s Charter Challenge to Bill 115, and preparations for the provincial election and ETFO’s Building Better Schools campaign. He drew particular attention to ETFO’s newest brochure – What’s the biggest threat to better schools in Ontario – that outlines the Conservatives’ policies on education and worker rights. Winnie Ng, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University, addressed the meeting. Emphasizing the importance of solidarity across organizations and social movements, with a strong focus on equity, Ng said “Our movement must be grounded in equity, solidarity and social justice.” Council members debated 15 motions (recommendations to the Executive) and four annual meeting resolutions. They discussed, debated, and passed collective bargaining goals for the next round of bargaining. MPP Peter Tabuns, the Ontario NDP education critic, pledged the support of his party for ETFO’s amendments to Bill 122. He reviewed the positions the party has taken on major labour issues and reiterated his party’s opposition to the current regime of standardized testing in Ontario. That so many of our local leaders were present at the meeting is a testament to their commitment to ETFO and its members. They arrived in a blizzard and left in the bitter cold.
TOGETHER FAIRNESS WORKS In the last week of January, ETFO hosted a one-day training session for ETFO leaders on the CLC’s Together Fairness Works campaign. Together Fairness Works is based on the premise that if we want our members to talk about ETFO as “my union,” we need to listen to what they tell us. The training was tailored to ETFO and gave participants strategies to make the campaign work in their own locals.
ETFO'S SUBMISSION TO PRE-BUDGET HEARING ETFO First Vice-President Susan Swackhammer presented the federation’s submission to the legislature’s pre-budget hearings on January 16, 2014. The brief identifies the contribution of ETFO members and other public sector employees to deficit reduction and encourages the government to support public sector services and public sector jobs as a way to promote economic recovery. It identifies a number of key education policies that require additional funding in order to ensure Ontario students continue to receive quality education. The federation reiterates the need to end standardized testing or move to a random sample testing model. This would contribute to more engaged classrooms and savings to the education sector. Finally, the submission speaks to the importance of addressing the growing income inequality among Ontarians and the need to move forward with tax reform to more equitably distribute economic prosperity.
In January, Oxfam, a worldwide development organization that mobilizes the power of people against poverty, sent out a press release indicating that 85 of the world’s richest people are as wealthy as the poorest half of the world.