I read this story OSSTF memo takes credit for holding Liberals to minority gov't where the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation claim to be responsible for several key political events in Ontario. It mentioned a “confidential memo” that suggest Ontario’s new leader Kathleen Wynne is handing out goodies to her union friends.
Naturally I wanted that memo. It’s actually not hard to find, being “confidential” and all, it seems several people have copies that they are willing to share, so without further ado I give you the memo, and thanks to those who deserve it.
Here’s the original email header, and it would appear the OSSTF has a security issue. (I had to clean it up a bit it had those little “>” things everywhere.)
…and here’s the actual memo:Dear Member,
The information sent to you in this email is confidential to OSSTF/FEESO members only. None of the information is to be posted in a public manner - this includes websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Please refrain from publicizing this information in any way. Members are reminded that this information is bargaining-related and are reminded that OSSTF/FEESO provincially and locally does not publicize bargaining information.
Below, please find a message from the Provincial Office of OSSTF issued early this evening:
Confidential to OSSTF/FEESO Members
February 24, 2013
On behalf of the Provincial Executive, I want to begin by thanking you for your continued engagement, and extraordinary solidarity. During these past difficult months, you have been engaged in one of the longest collective and most complex actions in OSSTF/FEESO history. This has been a difficult and complicated time and your Provincial Executive knows the many challenges you have faced and the sacrifices you have made in order to fight for your right to collective bargaining.
In September, the Provincial Executive developed and agreed on a long-term fight-back strategy regarding the negative repercussions of the recently introduced Bill 115. This united strategy was shared with Bargaining Unit Presidents and Chief Negotiators at a meeting held on September 7, 2012.
The strategy was based on three guiding principles:
• To create an environment in which to bargain an acceptable deal.
• To ensure that the government of the day will know that there are consequences for attacking the rights of education workers.
• To demonstrate to OSSTF/FEESO members that their union will not allow their rights to be eroded and abolished.
It stated the following:
OSSTF/FEESO has made it clear from the initial discussions about bargaining that establishing the rules under which bargaining was to take place was necessary to ensure a fair and democratic process for all parties. The current rules that provide the parameters for collective bargaining are found in the Ontario Labour Relations Act. OSSTF/FEESO has made it clear publicly that we would be following the Ontario Labour Relations Act processes and that is the basis for the future actions that OSSTF/FEESO will be taking on behalf of members.
Steps in the Plan:
1. All affected bargaining units that have not previously taken strike votes will take strike votes by September 26, 2012.
2. All affected bargaining units will apply for Conciliation and a No Board Report in an order that will be determined by Provincial Office. The order will be communicated to Presidents and Chief Negotiators via a memo to be released early this week.
3. All affected bargaining units will likely begin to be in a legal strike position by October 11, 2012.
4. Strike actions, including everything up to, but not including, a full withdrawal of services, will commence as was discussed at the June membership meetings. However, the initial strike actions will be designed according to the bargaining situation at that time. We will forward that document early this week as well.
5. If the Government takes any action against any affected OSSTF/FEESO bargaining unit, extra-curricular activities will be withdrawn across the province. These actions may include steps to impose a collective agreement (the OECTA Memorandum of Understanding) or moves to create a regulation that declares our activities illegal, which would then trigger our extra-curricular response and the Government will have to answer to students and parents.
If OSSTF/FEESO is able to bargain an acceptable deal, it must be taken to the Minister of Education for approval. If the Minister rejects the deal, then the Government has to answer for that decision. This would also trigger the withdrawal of extra-curricular activities across the province.”
Your local leadership was asked to share this plan with you.
Since September 7, your solidarity in implementing this plan has resulted in a number of significant achievements that have lead us to this juncture in our fight.
Together our actions:
• Stole the ability of the Liberals to form a majority government through our united actions and hard work in the Kitchener- Waterloo by-election on September 6, 2012.
• Influenced Dalton McGuinty’s decision to resign his Premiership – a resignation that occurred a few short days after a meeting with heads of unions across the province and a mere few weeks after he publicly mused about seeking a fourth term as Leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario.
• Forced a Liberal Leadership Convention which caused a full internal review of the party’s political position.
• Kept Laurel Broten from seeking the leadership of her party by focusing on her role in the Liberals’ anti-teacher/anti-education worker agenda. This also highlighted the unacceptable shift in the party’s direction.
• Forced the Liberals into an early repeal of Bill 115 – a piece of legislation that they fully intended to keep on the books for at least three years because it included the ability to extend imposed conditions on us for a third year.
Throughout the fall, while all of these political events were occurring, OSSTF/FEESO representatives were meeting with Government and school board officials to modify the OECTA MoU and create a fair, acceptable collective bargaining process. Those discussions also impacted the Government’s agreement with CUPE.
The magnitude of these achievements can be directly related to your collective action and solidarity with the Provincial Executive strategy.
More recently and since the selection of Kathleen Wynne as the new Premier, many meetings, both formal and informal, have been held to develop a process to properly address OSSTF/FEESO concerns.
During the past two weeks, representatives from OSSTF/FEESO have engaged in high level discussions with the Government. These representatives include the Teacher/Occasional Teacher and Support Staff Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups, provincial negotiators and the Provincial Executive.
These discussions focused on OSSTF/FEESO identified issues and were structured to achieve appropriate solutions.
Substantial progress was made at the most recent meeting with government representatives on Thursday, February 21. At this time, the three guiding principles that were integral in our strategic plan were realized.
As a result of this progress, the provincial negotiators unanimously recommended the following motion to the Provincial Executive:
“That the Provincial Executive recommend to members that we suspend our political actions related to extra-curricular and voluntary activities.”
After a thorough debate, the Provincial Executive also unanimously supported the recommendation.
The Provincial Executive and provincial negotiators presented all the information related to the discussions and the associated motion to both Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups. These Work Groups include a total of 28 local presidents and local chief negotiators who represent the geographical and bargaining unit diversity of our 60,000 members. The Ad Hoc Advisory Work Groups also strongly endorsed the motion.
On Friday, a full report was presented to all local bargaining unit presidents and other members who comprise Provincial Council. Provincial Council is OSSTF/FEESO’s decision-making body between Annual Meetings. The following motion was presented:
“BE IT RESOLVED THAT Provincial Council endorse the following motion passed by the Provincial Executive:
That the Provincial Executive recommend to members that we suspend our current political action related to extra-curricular and voluntary activities.”
This motion was strongly endorsed by Provincial Council.
A strategy was developed to communicate the outcomes of the discussions held during Provincial Council in a timely and appropriate manner. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the Provincial Executive’s control, the information was communicated to the press which negated the ability for the appropriate communication strategy to be employed. The information was leaked by a person in the Provincial Council meeting which was being conducted in Executive Session in order to prevent just such an event from occurring. This was highly problematic in that members heard the results of the discussion from the media and not their local leaders or Provincial Office. This is not characteristic of how OSSTF/FEESO commits to operating.
From the very beginning of this fight, we have been clear that it is a fight to restore our collective bargaining rights.
As a result of the meetings held with the Wynne administration the government has committed to put in place an appropriate team of representatives that excludes bankruptcy lawyers, but includes education and labour relations experts
This newly appointed central table team, along with OSSTF/FEESO representatives is tasked with reviewing and resolving OSSTF/FEESO priority issues.
Some of these issues include:
• The development of a bargaining structure/process that will allow for local bargaining in this current round, and in future rounds. The government has communicated its understanding of the necessity of local bargaining to reach resolution. In addition, we will utilize the OLRA process that allows mid-term amendments to collective agreements.
• A commitment to ensure fairness and consistency in the application of terms imposed. and those under negotiated MoUs, i.e. job security for support staff.
• Any future changes to the grid structure would not be imposed.
• A commitment to form a Working Group to examine a future OSSTF/FEESO Provincial Benefits Plan.
• The parties are committed to look for fiscally neutral alternatives to unpaid day(s).
• The government has offered multiple meeting dates in the near future (as early as this week) at OSSTF’s discretion, and will ensure that key personnel will be present at those meetings.
• The Government acknowledges the importance of local bargaining and the parties recognize the need to develop options to ensure that solutions achieved at a central table discussion are implemented at the local level. OSSTF/FEESO representatives will be involved in the development of these options.
As I have said publicly, we know it is likely that about 20% of the membership will likely never return to participating in voluntary/extracurricular activities; we also know that about 20% have already returned/will immediately return to participate in voluntary/extracurricular activities and we also understand that about 60% of you will make your personal decision about whether the system deserves a return of your good will based on tangible results. That is your personal decision, as it has always been, but in either case, do not shortchange the achievements your participation in our collective action strategy has resulted in to date.
The Provincial Executive recognizes that each member will make individual and personal decisions regarding extra-curricular and voluntary activities.
Ken Coran, President