Free and fair collective bargaining is at the heart of what we do as a union.
ETFO leaders met in October for the fall Representative Council meeting. At this, the first of three meetings held every year, the council elects members to sit on the Council Steering Committee, the Selection Committee for Standing Committees and the Budget Committee.
At the very start of the meeting, 200 local and provincial leaders left the meeting room and marched to the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) office to protest the OPSBA press release disclosing confidential and misleading information about ongoing central bargaining talks.
Guest speaker, Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, stressed the importance of voting in the election on October 19. “We must vote now to get rid of Harper; we must vote now so we can create the Canada we want for ourselves and our children.”
ETFO Members Win Award for Excellence
ETFO members Sandra Dubreuil and Melanie Brown-Robson were presented with the OTIP Teaching Awards on September 29, 2015. Sandra, who teaches at W.H. Morden Public School in Oakville, won in the Beginning Teacher Category. Melanie, who teaches at Lakeview Public School in Grimsby, won in the Elementary Teacher Category. “These winners represent the best of the best Ontario teachers in public education,” stated Francine LeBlanc-Lebel, OTF President.
OTIP and OTF co-sponsor the OTIP Teaching Awards for excellence in teaching in the publicly funded school system.
On September 29, thousands of ETFO members phoned in to the Collective Bargaining Town Hall meeting to hear about the status of bargaining. The town hall is one of many communications vehicles ETFO uses to keep members informed about central bargaining.
Three hundred and eighty local presidents, executive members and committee chairs participated in leadership training this fall. They attended workshops that spoke to the various roles each had within the local. ETFO launched its newest video resource – LGBTQ Inclusive SchoolPlace Starts Here, a groundbreaking film that explores homophobia and transphobia in school communities.
Just before Representative Council, 60 local leaders participated in lobbying training. Hugh Mackenzie and Alex Himelfarb set the context with presentations about education funding and the toxicity of austerity. Two MPPs, Lisa Gretsky, NDP Education Critic, and Jennifer French, an ETFO member and NDP Critic for Pensions and Community Safety and Correctional Services, stressed the importance of building relations with your MPP.
Project Overseas Debrief
ETFO’s 14 participants in Project Overseas 2015 met in early October to share their experiences and discuss ways in which they can bring what they learned home, to their classrooms and their locals.
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.