Monday, July 29, 2013

Open Letter to Ken Coran

Hi Ken,

You might remember me. When you were forced to answer questions at the beginning of OSSTF's last AMPA, I asked you a question. I asked, "Ken, I was told that OSSTF was going to fight to repeal Bill 115, rescind our imposed working conditions, and restore collective bargaining. We got the first one - what happened to the other two?" I can't quote your response as accurately as my question, but I remember you telling me that OSSTF provincial executive was indeed working on rescinding our imposed working conditions and restoring our collective bargaining rights, and that I should wait and see what developments would come with Broten and McGuinty gone. Well, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and waited to see what OSSTF would put forward to the members for a vote. And might I say I was severely disappointed.

In the end all I got was some "improvements" to an imposed contract. I never got to vote on a collective agreement. In fact, I worked summer school under an imposed contract that nobody seems sure how to interpret. Local school boards are picking and choosing which parts of our MOU to implement, and my board, Ottawa-Carleton, has so far failed to append the MOU to our existing collective agreement, making it clear that my employer intends to bargain from the starting point of the Bill 115 imposed contracts, rather than the imposed contract including the improvements from the MOU. Whatever I got, I sure didn't get rid of the imposed working conditions, and I sure didn't get my collective bargaining rights back.

So what did you get? Well, you got your retirement from OSSTF (with a fully indexed pension, I assume - something I seriously doubt I will have when I retire in 25 years). But, you also managed to find yourself a new job - with the Liberal Party of Ontario! This is the same party that, less than a year ago, suspended our right to strike and stripped our contracts of benefits we fought for decades ago. Some might think that Kathleen Wynne represents a new government with a new collaborative approach - but I would hope such people would remember that Wynne voted for Bill 115 just like every Liberal MPP in the legislature.

So, I guess I got the answer to my question. Well, I'm not happy, Ken. In fact, I am infuriated. I rallied on the streets for months in support of my union as we fought for our rights to bargain a contract. I marched in the freezing cold only to be offered an MOU that did nothing to undo the damage of Bill 115. And while I get to live with the damage to our rights and our benefits for the rest of my career, you're out trying to win an election as a Liberal candidate. Well, I decided the appropriate way to demonstrate my disappointment with your decisions was to try and make your campaign a little more difficult.

I spent the first day of my summer vacation driving from Ottawa to London to work with other OSSTF dissidents to try and encourage the good citizens of London to vote for another party than the Liberals. I hoped to remind them that the Liberal Party of Ontario intends to continue to fund an austerity agenda by cutting funding to public services like education. I wanted to tell other public servants that Kathleen Wynne has pledged that any improvements to salaries and benefits (even cost-of-living increases) will have to come from program spending. Above all, I wanted to convince voters that the Liberal Party is not the progressive alternative to the Harris PCs that warranted our support over a decade ago.

Well, I'm just one person with a few like-minded allies, so there wasn't much I could do, other than try to get my message out to the voters. This is Canada after all, a democracy where our political freedoms are cherished and respected. Well, let me tell you, you have some staffers in your office that don't seem to have much respect for democratic freedoms at all.

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 27th, I arrived with some fellow OSSTF members to leaflet cars in the parking lot outside your campaign office. I'll attach the text of the leaflet below, but suffice to say the message can be summarized as "Don't vote Liberal, because other parties deserve your support more." You should ask your campaign office workers how they reacted to political action from your opponents. If you really do respect the democratic process, I think you'll be disappointed with how your staffers treated OSSTF members - people who's rights you were fighting for for decades.

Anyways, I did the best I could. If one of the hundreds of leaflets I passed out made even a shred of a difference when it comes to how people will vote, I'll have deemed my action a success.

I hope no idea what directions my union will take now that you are gone. I can only hope that your response to the attacks on our rights will be seen as a blueprint for how NOT to respond when a government decides to attack education workers and their collective bargaining rights. And, I can only hope that, come this Thursday, when Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government faces five by-elections, that every single Liberal candidate is defeated, including you.

Andy Wilson
OSSTF member, Ottawa.

Text of the flyer that was distributed outside Ken Coran's campaign office in London:


  • Don’t like austerity? DON’T VOTE LIBERAL.
  • Don’t like public services being cut to pay for low corporate taxes? DON’T VOTE LIBERAL.
  • Don’t like Bill 115 and restrictions on collective bargaining? DON’T VOTE LIBERAL.

  • The Liberals are not the progressive alternative to the Conservatives they used to be.
  • Other candidates are more deserving of your vote.
  • Show the Liberals that they cannot take your support for granted!

Monday, July 8, 2013

OSSTF, Let's Talk Politics

As I've come to learn more and more about my union, I continue to find myself frustrated with its approach to politics.

Even after the Liberal Party of Ontario took away our bargaining rights and stripped our contracts, there is still support in OSSTF for the party - even support for Liberal candidates in Ontario's current by-elections. I strongly believe that recent history indicates that OSSTF members should seriously re-examine their "Anything But Conservative" election strategy. If we don't, we might find ourselves continuing to be complicit with a government that hurts public education and ignores collective bargaining rights.

Playing strategic got us to where we are. Since the Harris years, as far as I know, OSSTF mostly supported the Liberals, and, where the NDP had the upper hand, they received OSSTF's support instead. Basically, OSSTF chose Liberal or NDP candidates to support - whoever was going to beat the Conservatives.

And that strategy worked. Enough seats went Liberal, and in some places some went NDP, and OSSTF managed to negotiate collective agreements successfully for a decade. 

But then the Liberals decided to take a sharp turn to the right. The tired government, mired in multiple scandals, took a gamble that attacking education workers and their decent working conditions would undercut the appeal of the Conservatives. It didn't work, but the government stuck to its guns and used Bill 115 to impose contracts on education workers anyways.

And now it's by-election time again, and the old "better a Liberal than a Conservative" mindset seems to prevail in OSSTF. I just don't get it.

I suppose it's a strategy born out by fear - but let's examine that fear. Hudak stands for a lot of things that would obviously be incredibly disastrous for public education and union rights. If he were to secure a majority government, he could cut programs and enact politics that will cause lasting harm to workers and students for years to come. Fighting back against such assaults would involve a campaign of the magnitude OSSTF hasn't engaged in in years. It would be a massive undertaking involving the mobilization of education workers province-wide. And it would be costly; OSSTF would drain its strike fund, and workers would most likely lose multiple days of pay through participating in "illegal" strikes or political protests. It would be hard, and there would be costs.

Who knows, maybe OSSTF's political action can avoid the inevitable and stave off a Conservative government for another decade. But what's the cost of a continued "Anything but Conservative" strategy, even if it's rewarded with more Liberal governments? 

The cost of such a strategy is saying that we are so frightened of the Conservatives that we will support the Liberals even after they use an illegal law to strip our contracts. Kathleen Wynne will understand that she can get away with such behaviour in the future and still enjoy our support. All she has to do is raise the spectre of a Conservative government, and we'll settle for wage cuts, stripped benefits, and the restriction of our right to strike. 

If you've followed my analysis so far, you're likely now asking something like, "Well, ok, the Liberals should be punished, and they should know that our support is conditional on things like respect for the collective bargaining process. But, what are we to do? If we don't support the Liberals, what do we do instead? How do we work to avoid a Hudak government?"

The answer to such questions is: "I don't know." I just want education workers to start having this discussion.  How do we take into account the threat of a Conservative government, while at the same time draw a line in the sand with the Liberals and let them know that they won't get our support until they respect our rights to collective bargaining?

Whatever we decide, and there will be different decisions across the province, I hope that education workers consider more than the fear of a Hudak government that might never come to be.

And at the end of the day, despite OSSTF's support, the Liberals may well lose in a future general election anyways. And then it'd be time to have a different discussion: how to resist a Conservative austerity agenda, rather than how to help enable a Liberal one.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ken Coran's Liberal Candidacy

After hearing Ken Coran will be running as a Liberal in the upcoming by-election in London, I drafted a quick letter and got my fellow CWS teachers to sign it. I'm positive I could have got each staff member to sign it, had I not heard Coran's news on the last work day of the year.
-Andy Wilson
Teacher, Ottawa.


This morning we learned that Ken Coran will be running as a Liberal candidate in the upcoming by-election in London. I can't express in words how angry I am, and how betrayed I feel.

It now appears that while OSSTF members were attending rallies far and wide, withdrawing from voluntary services, and even engaging in limited strike action to fight for our collective bargaining rights, Ken Coran was more concerned with delivering his members to the Liberal government in order to ensure he had a position in the party when his term with OSSTF was over.

I can only hope that OSSTF PE learns from the recent past: having a close relationship with the Liberal Party is no assurance that our collective bargaining rights will be respected. We need to send a message during the upcoming by-elections that messing with OSSTF has a cost; at the very least no support, official or otherwise, should be given to any Liberal Party candidate in the upcoming elections.

After weathering contract strips, and now feelings of utter betrayal, it is now more important than ever to demonstrate to OSSTF's members that their resistance to attacks on collective bargaining rights matter. A public statement from PE expressing the widespread outrage at Ken's betrayal would be a good start.

Nepean High School CWS Department

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why I Am Voting No

As I walked through Bill 115's scorched-earth labour landscape, I saw an oasis in the distance. Political donations, favourable results at a leadership convention and a “new tone” had led me to expect a tall drink of fairly negotiated water, but woe is me, the oasis was a mirage and negotiations nothing more than heat lines above a summer's highway. I will vote over the next week and my vote will be no. I hope that at least 50% plus one will vote with me. Here is the short version of my rationale for such a vote. A provincial ratification of this deal will allow the government to loudly and proudly announce that they successfully negotiated a deal with Ontario’s teachers. They will claim to have “negotiated” the elimination of bankable sick days, they will boast that they have managed to “fairly and legally collectively bargain” the end of the gratuity and a yes vote will aid and abet in these lies. So I will vote no, the detailed version of my rationale follows.

The Contract Itself
In a normal year contract negotiations begin with an examination of the pre-existing contract. From that point the conversation between the stakeholders moves to a discussion of what each side would like to see removed, changed or added to the expiring (or expired - as is usually the case) Collective Bargaining Agreement. The deal that we are voting on did not use the previous contract as its foundation. Rather this deal is built upon the contract that was imposed effective January 3, 2013. The proposed agreement is not a new deal at all; it is a series of amendments to a problematic deal that reneged on contractual promises made to teachers over decades of legitimate negotiations. And about those amendments, as it turns out, they are all minor. Most of what’s in this deal was available to us before Kathleen Wynne ever set foot in the Premier’s office. This MOU looks very much like the deals that were voted down in York Region and the Niagara District and accepted in Upper Grand in November.

Sick Days
Consider the sick day provisions. Everything in this amended deal is the same as the three November deals. Identical. Except for the elimination of the adjudication process and the possibility of receiving two-thirds pay while off sick for an “unapproved” illness. Sounds good, until you realize some boards, including mine, had abandoned the idea of the 66% payout because it was too expensive to operate the adjudication process. So the OSSTF was able to get the government to eliminate an initiative that was too costly to be implemented. Well done.

The Voluntary Leave of Absence Program is another left over from November’s contractual trifecta. I have to believe that the OSSTF could have negotiated this into our collective agreements at any time over the past thirty years. Why wouldn’t the boards or government go for a program that saves significant money every time it is accessed? Financially, the VLAP program makes more sense for the boards than the four-over-five program.

The amended payouts for money owed to teachers under previously, and freely, negotiated gratuity agreements is laughable. The York, Niagara and Guelph deals were paying out at ten percent of money owed, now that has increased to the lofty sum of 25% (FYI. Guelph had no gratuity - so it’s little wonder why that bargaining unit accepted their deal). If I were to receive one of these payouts, my 161 sick days would pay me a total, before taxes, of just over $7 000 (instead of the $2 800 in the November deals - and instead of the $28 000 owed to me). So instead of breaking into my house and robbing me of everything I own, except for the floorboards and light fixtures, the government now has seen fit to leave me a couple of eggs in the fridge. And if, like me, your sick days are vested, you get to collect one of the lesser of three calculations when you retire. So for me, the $22 000 my vested days merit (the least of the three calculations) will be collected in 2029, when it’s worth maybe $10 000. As for the half a year’s salary specified in the contract I signed over a decade ago, forget about it. But don’t forget, all of this has been “fairly negotiated” if we vote yes to this deal. Unpaid Days The unpaid days provision in the in “new and improved” amended deal is worse than the unpaid days outlined in the Upper Grand contract. The pre-Wynne triple-header of deals actually included only one unpaid day. The soon to be voted on deal includes two unpaid days off. One of the days might be eliminated, but we will have to wait and see if the board saves enough money through other means, and if you don’t take six sick days - you will get reimbursed for the other day. So the OSSTF effectively managed to negotiate a “maybe” on one unpaid day and the potential reimbursement for the other if you don’t get too sick next year.

Future Grid
The federation has been trumpeting a grid guarantee from the government. However, when one reads the MOU, he or she discovers that this guarantee is rather weak. Read the following, taken directly from the MOU: The government shall meet to review school board employee salary grids with stakeholders during the term of the 2012 to 2014 collective agreements including, but not limited to, how employees move on the experience and qualification salary grid (where applicable) and the variation currently in the monetary value of each grid step, with a view to future sustainability. The funding parameters for OSSTF/FEESO salary grids shall remain consistent throughout the process. Absent agreement during the review, any change to grid issues shall be the subject of collective bargaining for the next collective agreement. So all that is guaranteed, is that the government will negotiate any changes to the grid at the conclusion of this deal (August 31, 2014). Why would they have to promise something that is clearly ensconced in labour law? Will they “negotiate” changes to the grid much the way they “fairly negotiated” the elimination of sick days and gratuities? Will the union tell us a 15 step grid is a good deal after the government originally imposed a 17 step grid?

The Court Challenge Of Bill 115
I recently read the latest OSSTF communication claiming that a strong yes vote would strengthen our court case against Bill 115. As a result of reading that message, I now know what it’s like to step through the looking glass and converse in jabberwocky, to swallow the blue pill, to embrace the Roswell alien, and to slow dance with Mr. Topsy-Turvy. A yes vote will allow the government to enter the courtroom armed with a strong argument for the case’s dismissal, as not only did they repeal the bill, they managed to fairly negotiate and collectively bargain a deal freely agreed to by the province’s teachers. I have heard other arguments, among themis the goal of avoiding Hudak’s Tories. The hypothesis that forfeiting this battle will help us maybe win a future war does not bode well for future contracts – win the contract battle, and then win in the political arena when the time comes. When I hear some amongst us suggest that we should vote to accept this deal because it’s imperceptibly less awful than the imposed contract, I recall smores, stars and being asked “which would you rather, to lick your father’s deodorant stick or your mother’s summer worn pantyhose?” And while “which would you rather” is an awesome campfire game, it’s a horrible way to negotiate a compensation package for educators in the number one educational jurisdiction in the English speaking world. Mr. and Msteacher which would you rather, to get royally screwed or to get regally screwed? I for one will vote for not getting screwed and frankly for never getting screwed again. Ratification is complete surrender. 

Rob Scott April 11, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

OSSTF's illegitimate "tentative agreement"

OSSTF's illegitimate "tentative agreement"
by Andy Wilson, a secondary teacher in Ottawa.

I am calling on all OSSTF members to reject the "tentative agreement" reached between our union and the government of Ontario. Whatever gains we might have negotiated to improve the imposed working conditions implemented through Bill 115, they are not enough for us to tacitly legitimize the attacks against our bargaining rights that we have endured over the past year.

We are not really bargaining right now. The government used Bill 115 to impose strips to our contracts and benefits. Those strips remain in place. Our new premier and new education minister have repeatedly said they will not revisit the imposed working conditions, and that there is no "new money" to make up for what was stolen from us. The government is still refusing to engage in real bargaining, and the imposed working conditions are not going away.

Real bargaining would be different: we'd be starting from the last legal collective agreement - our contracts as of August 2012. We would sit down with our employers (the school boards) and hear how they would implement the cuts to their funding from the Ministry of Education. There would be some back and forth. Both sides would have to compromise. And, if pressure was needed, there would be strikes and/or lockouts. That's how the process is supposed to work.

All that we're likely to get from any tentative agreement is something "substantially identical" to the imposed OECTA MOU - the memorandum of understanding that our leadership previously stated was unacceptable to OSSTF members. Last December, OSSTF members from a number of bargaining units rejected such "substantially identical" tentative agreements. We may have a new premier and a new minister of education, but what we are being offered has not changed. Members should vote against any deal that was "negotiated" under the terms imposed through Bill 115, whether it was in December with Dalton, or in March with Kathleen.

This fight isn't for money and benefits; it's much bigger than that. OSSTF members need to continue to fight for their collective bargaining rights. Endorsing a tentative agreement reached through a process that does not respect those rights sends the wrong message. Endorsing such agreements says that workers are willing to accept the suspension of their collective bargaining rights. If that's the case, how do we think a future government will approach collective bargaining with education workers? If they can pass a law to skirt the legal process, and then merely weather some low-level protest action by workers for a few months, they will. They will come for our salaries; they will continue to whittle away our secure pensions.

Some would argue that it's better to vote for what we can get, give up fighting, and hope for the best next round. That's the easy way, of course. But members need to remember that we will get what we are willing to struggle for. In the 70s, OSSTF members resigned en masse in order to force the government to respect their right to strike. In 2012, had we continued to struggle when Bill 115 was imposed, rather than try to mitigate the damage by "bargaining" with the government within the bill's parameters, we might not be finding ourselves in this current situation. But it's never too late to start to fight back, and it's always too easy to give in during a long struggle.

So again, OSSTF members, I urge you to consider what has happened over the past year and think hard about what signal we would send by endorsing any tentative agreement with the government that doesn't address the imposed working conditions implemented through Bill 115. This fight is for collective bargaining rights, and we don't have them yet. Don't give up!

Friday, March 8, 2013

ExtraCurricular Activities: the Straw Man No One Wants to Confront

by Phil Allt

There are many issues associated with teachers withholding extra curricular activities as a protest against the Ontario government violating the principles of free collective bargaining:

- Ontario Secondary School Teacher President Ken Coran’s correct assertion about who will resume these activities (20%), who won’t (20%) and those who are in the mushy middle (60% or most teachers);
- the less than 100 percent of students who partake in these activities less than 100 percent of the time. No one can precisely, or even “guesstimate”, the number of students who actually engage in extra curricular activities throughout the year. The reason? No one wants to find out the answer;
- the exorbitant cost for activities that is incurred by the families of those who can afford them (for example playing hockey at many schools can cost upward of 200 dollars per season and then there is football, basketball, rugby, swimming and the list goes on;
- the exorbitant cost of these activities that cannot be afforded by most families in Ontario;

are but a few of the concerns that should be taken seriously.

But there is another issue too and that is the elephant in the room. Should music, art, drama, physical education and lifestyle clubs be extra curricular activities at all? Should these not be part of a curriculum that is fully supported through taxation? Should these activities be taught by properly qualified teachers staff in classrooms, on playing fields and elsewhere?

Teachers who believe that extra curricular activities are just that, are missing a great opportunity to press for full funding for education. Similarly the hue and cry that is heard from those demanding more after school activities should be replaced with a demand for fully funding of all activities within the school - funding that was always inadequate but was chopped years ago by the Conservatives and never restored by the Liberals.

If those skills that are developed by children partaking in extra curricular activities are so important, why are these not part of a full curriculum? 

Why do high school students not have 4 mandatory years of arts and 4 mandatory years of physical and lifestyle education where musical appreciation is developed and respect for healthy living is promoted? The answer is quite simple: Ontario as a culture is too cheap to pay for the things we regard as superfluous to training for a job.

I do not think that I am alone in wanting physical education restored and properly funded. I also want art and music appreciation and education made mandatory in all schools and provision made for musical instruments in all schools. As a culture it is morally repugnant to require poor kids to rely upon the “kindness of strangers” i.e. welfare, donations and school vouchers to have the chance to learn an instrument or play a sport. 

Sure, many can coach the well-to-do kid who can afford the extra curricular fees - I, for one, am a certified rugby coach - whatever that means. I am, however, not certain that I am doing a good job anymore and my certification attests to that - 2 weekend courses with the National Coaching Certification Programme - 20 years ago.

A well skilled athlete or musician might be better at the job than many of those who currently coach out of altruism and pressure from inside the school. Furthermore, we are not helping the kid who cannot afford even the shoes to play a sport (and as I write, I am looking at the desk where sits a student who cannot afford athletic shoes). I wonder what will happen to students like him who do not have someone to buy athletic equipment for them, pay their participation fees and maybe even buy them the food they often do not have to eat.

Sadly, we do not want to pay to hire a person with the skills to properly promote music, the arts or athletics. We do not want to make the activities that are lost to better off kids universally accessible. We do not wish for excellence in arts or athletics - we merely want cheap childcare and cheap extra school activities to fill the gap before parents get home for supper. Hence we rely upon volunteers and coercion within the schools in order to offer playtime opportunities to kids.

Until we fund arts and athletics appropriately, teachers, politicians, boards of education and parents are making hollow arguments about the merits of restoring extra curricular activities for which Ontario does not wish to pay. Please, do not tell me it’s about the kids. Its about a province being cheap.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


by Jeff Kanter, a secondary teacher in Ottawa.

Many people are just now beginning to understand and perhaps even recognize
that the simple truth of the matter is that the public at large has had it pretty good
for pretty long. There has been a significantly uninterrupted period of time in which
extra curricular activities have been freely and widely offered.

And now that there has been a withdrawl of this no cost, overtime-equivalent by
teachers who provide thousands and thousands of hours of their time in order
for these activities to exist and flourish, reactions within the public, fanned by a
consistently unsympathetic media, have been very noticeable.

Perhaps some of those who are most vocal in their attacks on teachers for simply
having all those weeks and weeks off in the summer (never mind that teachers
do not set the instructional schedule) might wish to rethink their invective. If a
summer represents 40 work days, then those 320 hours pale by comparison to the
number of hours many teachers contribute to after school voluntary activities.

Perhaps saner heads could call that one a trade off? That is somewhat optimistic,
I am afraid: someone nursing an anti-teacher grudge could surely manufacture
some form of disagreement. But if that person is you, consider this: what other
professional offers such extensive, daily, year long services (with some pretty damn
fine results, to boot) gratis?

And if you are going to start that nonsense about making extra curriculars a
part of teachers’ job descriptions, hold it right there. To even suggest it is just a
contradiction in terms as well as an affront to logic, reason, and common sense.
It would mean the beginning of the end for any value to be derived from extra
curricular activities. And that suggestion is offered not out of anger or rancor, but
rather with sadness.

It would be a sad situation indeed if it were ever to come to that. The very idea has
nothing to do with ensuring meaningful after school programs and activities, but
is a transparent attempt to simply make sure teachers could never take the kind of
“pause” which is happening right now, ever again. How does creating a scenario in
which teachers are forced to coach or direct plays (never mind the skill set required
for those endeavours) benefit students? Or, better yet, what about an unprincipled
principal who, for whatever set of reasons, ends up requiring a science teacher
without any arts’ background (sorry for the possible stereotype) to do that year’s
school play?

The only logical and reasonable scenario is one in which teachers freely –in the
fullest cents of the word – give time that they could otherwise be using for marking
and prep and, damn it, even relaxation, for coaching and supervising teams, and
running art shows and music nights and drama productions and improve teams and

debating clubs and yearbooks and the dozens of other initiatives that get so easily
lumped into the impressive array of things falling under the heading extra curricular

There is too much focus on the teachers’ taking their pause from the voluntary
activities and not nearly enough on their reasons for it.

It is a classic case of putting way too much emphasis on the wrong part of an
issue. For example, in the recent G20 riots in Toronto, there was considerably less
attention paid to the dull drab illegality of vandalism and destruction of private
property in the face of what was more likely to sell: the sexiness of mass arrests and
the hint of police excesses.

Fueled by media, our attention is constantly aimed at unions and the consequences
of union leaders’ actions and decisions – when all they are really doing is fulfilling
their mandate (looking after their members). This in itself is rapidly becoming akin
to criminal activity – part of a thinly veiled government strategy to discredit unions
in general.

This hyper focus uses misdirection to muddy the issue unnecessarily, with the
result that the real villain of the piece escapes the full impact of journalistic and
public wrath. The crisis was caused, created, enhanced, perpetuated, sustained, and
then totally misplayed by the provincial government. And then, right on cue, the
provincial Conservatives added to this mess by pursuing its own extreme policies.

Let’s deal with the cause and not just the symptom. Teachers took a pause from
voluntary activities when their bargaining rights were eliminated and “contracts”
were imposed. This cannot be just overlooked, which is the all too often theme
of journalists who, despite the fact that they pay that little fact lip service, want
to just overlook it. Yeah, we know (these journalists seem to be saying) that the
government messed up but hey, let’s all just get past that and move on.

That is more easily said than done. Teachers cannot simply overlook that rather
huge departure from democratically accepted processes – nor should they have to!
As so many teachers have clearly indicated, they will be happy to return to business
as usual on their side when the government is ready to negotiate instead of dictate.

And that does not automatically mean that teachers are after unreasonable raises
and unrealistic benefits. On the other hand, they wish to avoid having to endure pay
CUTS and the slashing of benefits negotiated over years and years.

Bill 115 turned a potentially unpleasant situation into an actual crisis. To suggest
that teachers could have done “something else” to express their sense of outrage
is just plain stupid. The legal recourse favoured by some columnists and MPPs
could easily take, by conservative standards, three or four years. Why not make
the suggestion that, given the significant opportunity provided by Mr McGuinty’s
sudden resignation, Ms Broten could have done something else?

There would have no point in the teachers choosing a reaction strategy that had
no impact. A serious abuse requires a serious response. Anything less would have
been pointless. Anything less would have pretty much ended the crisis with full
blown teacher capitulation.