In this blog… Bargaining Update, Staffing Update, Wynne Wednesday, News from Provincial office and a week at a glance.
This past week proved to be a very interesting week for OSSTF.
Monday and Tuesday we were at the local bargaining table with the school board. Again, we were only able to tackle housekeeping items and are still far apart on major issues. We remain steadfast in our position that we need to see real improvements for our members. Our next local bargaining date is June 11, 2015.
On Wednesday, Kristen, Mel and Tracey met with the board to try and finalize staffing. I believe they are close to being done, however they need to wait for the 2 EA Cafeteria postings to close and for the board to conduct interviews before transfers and locations are shared with members. Mel will continue to update you as information becomes available.
OSSTF-ESS members continued to show their solidarity and union pride this week and as a result we had another successful “Wynne” Wednesday. Collectively members also sent pencils as a form of protest to Kathleen Wynne with personalized messages to get back to the bargaining table and remove the offensive strips. Thank you to everyone that participated. Looking forward to more pictures this Wednesday!
We have been keeping a watchful eye on the central bargaining with the OSSTF teachers. The boards are still adamant to strip their collective agreements by removing class size caps. This is just simply bad for kids and OSSTF must continue to protect not only the working conditions of our members, but also the learning conditions of our students.
Lisa Gretzky, MPP for Windsor West continues to impress me in her new role as the NDP Education Critic.
She continues to press the Minister of Education to get a deal done and remove the strips from the table. Great work Lisa!!
On Thursday I travelled to Toronto for the last provincial council meeting of the year. Provincial Council is a meeting of all bargaining unit presidents from across the province. District 9 was very pleased to congratulate Jacques Aharonian as the recipient of the Norm Snyder Award. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to members who serve OSSTF at a local level. Jacques is a Social Worker with our board and has dedicated countless hours and service to OSSTF. Congratulations Jacques!
The members of provincial council also passed a very important motion. That motion will be communicated to members via a Bargaining Bulletin early this week. Frequently check your external email address or the Member Only site for updates. If you have any questions as to any information contained in those bulletins, please don’t hesitate to contact Melodie, Kristen or myself for clarification. One thing is certain, fall will not be business as usual unless Kathleen Wynne removes the strips from the table.
SAVE THE DATE
Not only do we need to continue to put pressure on the government to reach fair collective agreements, we need to also let our local trustees know that they need to stop administering cuts to programs and services to students. On June 16th, the board of trustees are expected to pass a budget that eliminates SERR classrooms, 21 Early Childhood Educators, and several Support Worker for Deaf and Hard of Hearing positions. These are all direct services to students that are proposed to be eliminated.
All Education Workers and Supporters are asked to demonstrate our displeasure at the last Public Board Meeting of the year. This is our way of demonstrating our commitment to pubic education and also our call to local trustees to pressure OPSBA to back away from strips to our collective agreement.
We will be holding an all affiliate rally in conjunction with all OSSTF members, ETFO and CUPE members.
The Rally for Education will take place outside of the Greater Essex County District School Board at
451 Park Street West – Windsor – Ontario
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
from 3:00 pm to 5:30pm (these times will accommodate members from both the secondary and elementary panels to attend after school)
I would also like to thank each and every one of you for all that you do.
We are truly THE best bargaining unit in the province and I can’t thank you enough for your commitment to defending public education.
One more quick reminder of our District Annual Meeting this Thursday June 11, 2015 4:30pm for updates from provincial office and more!! Located at 547 Victoria Avenue the OSSTF office. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week ahead!!
In solidarity always,
For further reading…..
Below are comments I made to the Pre-Budget Consultation on behalf of OSSTF-ESS members at the GECDSB a few weeks ago
Good evening and thank you for allowing me to provide input into the budget as part of the public consultation process.
I want to thank you for the work that you do. It is not an easy job I understand that there are decisions you have to make while balancing the interests of the constituents you serve.
I would suspect that when the public entrusted you with their vote, they entrusted you to be the gate keepers and ensure that our children and grandchildren receive the best public education possible.
And that is what I am going to ask of you today, I am going to ask you to stand up and defend quality public education for our children and grandchildren and for the future families of the GECDSB.
There is no doubt that the GECDSB delivers quality education.
I know this first hand because my daughter attends Herman Secondary School.
- I have seen first-hand the teachers that have went out of their way to give my daughter the extra help she needed in French and Math
- I have seen every single one of her teachers genuinely care about her academics and provide all of the support necessary to make sure she does well.
- I have seen first-hand how the secretaries (Donna, Lori and Lynn) have welcomed me as a parent into the school and I am always greeted with a cheerful hello.
- I have seen first-hand how the Child and Youth Workers go out of their way, often times working on weekends, to make sure that some of our students have clothes, food and furniture for their apartments because they can’t go home. I have seen how they have spent all night at Hospice supporting my daughter’s classmate while her mother succumbed to cancer.
- I have seen first-hand how the entire STEPS department has gone above and beyond to make sure our students with special needs are included and participate as every teenager should in high school. I have attended fundraising events on weekends to make sure the basic materials for programming are purchased to ensure students are able to communicate and reach their fullest potential.
- And I have seen first-hand how Mr. Canty, Mr. Scadden and Mrs. Williams have supported students by pushing them to reach their fullest potential.
This is what happens every day; in every one of our schools. I know that it does.
I not here today to point fingers and say look over there to make cuts or that we have too many staff at the top.
I am here to advocate on behalf of quality public education and that no matter what our role is we all contribute to student success…from the Director to the lunch aide…we all matter and we all count, and we are all stretched too thin.
We are at a pivotal time in Ontario education
All of us in this room are fully aware that the resources that have been allocated simply aren’t enough to be able to maintain quality public education on a go forward basis without having to make cuts.
The Liberal government has made cuts to education funding and we can’t continue to do more with less without impacting the success of our students.
There is no left place to cut.
WE need to defend that quality education means an ECE in every classroom, we need to defend that if there students who need the extra help from an EA or DSW they will receive it, we need to defend that if students need access to a Child and Youth Worker one will be available.
We need to defend that regardless of where you come from and where you live we will welcome children into our schools and they will be supported by our educational team.
So what I am asking you to do is to speak out and defend public education as you were elected to do.
We have not seen this kind of chaos in education since the Harris era. Do you remember that time? Do you remember when parents, school boards, trustees and educators stood together and said “ we are not going make cuts at the expense of our children?”
We are at that time again.
The government is forcing you to make further cuts, to find greater efficiencies. And there is nothing left to cut…
You have closed pools, cut staff, eliminated programs, closed community schools, delayed school repair projects, forced schools to fundraise to provide for the basic learning materials and sacrificed other important needs to ensure every student is supported.
The time is now to say “We can’t cut anymore.”
The time is now to say our students deserve better and we are not going to look at finding further efficiencies because it will impact student learning.
It is time to say that every student present and future deserves quality services and programming in their community schools and that we are not going to sacrifice any more to implement the Liberal austerity agenda.
We need to tell the government that it its hands off our public education system and its hands off our kids and we need to do this together.
During the budget process, I often hear from trustees that the government has given you limited powers therefore there isn’t much that can be done because you are forced to make the cuts due to the resources that have been allocated.
I am going to ask you to take a bold step and I am going to ask you to put the ball back in the governments court and not make the cuts to programs and services our children need and to say that we value our community schools and we need the funding to support them.
I am going to ask you to find it in yourself to stand up to the government and let them come and close our schools and make the cuts…trustees need to stop being their buffer.
We elected you to defend the public education system, not dismantle it because the government tells you have to.
The government has set up the system beautifully, they hand you a pocket of money and say here this is what you have to work with… and then the public blames you for having to close pools, programs and schools……why would you continue to do that? That is not what we elected you to do…at least I didn’t.
I know these are all tough decisions you need to weigh, but I ask you take the bold move and become the leaders we elected you to be and to stand up and protect public education.
Sometimes, we need to take bold moves to effect the change we need.
I know that what I have suggested seems like it may be extreme some may even characterize it as radical…but if you aren’t willing to pass an unbalanced budget to protect public education, I need you to use your collective voice to protect public education and think outside of the box and find creative solutions to help affect the change we desperately need.
In conclusion, I want to ask each of you to respond to the one question I have…..What steps are you willing to take to defend quality public education?
President OSSTF-ESS District 9