Greater Essex Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

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August 14, 2014
Provincial Annual Meeting 2014

This past week, ETFO held its Annual Meeting in Toronto, where 640 participants were in attendance to debate and decide the future direction of our organization.

Greater Essex delegates included Chris Brouillard-Coyle, Shaun Campbell, Laura Chesnik, Peter Deck, Susan Green, Shannon Hazel, Raquel Hurst, Jamie Lamb, Jan Lewis, Shannon McPherson, Michael Oddy, Annamari Pouti Fletcher, Melissa Savo-Newman, Pierrette Wray, Rian Fortier, and Mario Spagnuolo.

The AM opened with an address from President Sam Hammond. He began by recognizing our June 12 election victory against Tim Hudak whose agenda was aiming to deeply hurt public education and labour rights. This threat rallied and united unions across the province to successfully stand up and protect the role and work of unions in this province.

President Hammond also spoke about future bargaining, under the new legislation of Bill 122. ETFO served notice to bargain in June, and our first meeting with the government, to review ground rules, is on September 3. Shortly afterwards, on September 11, all ETFO local presidents and chief negotiators are being called to TO to discuss bargaining and how we will be moving forward in negotiations. Several resolutions on the floor revolved around Bill 122, especially addressing local bargaining and local bargaining power, given two tier bargaining.

In terms of our provincial budget, ETFO has now a Defense Fund of more than $150 million. Achieving this threshold has triggered a fee decrease for ETFO members of 0.2% for this school year.

Warmest recognitions need to be given to the following Greater Essex members for their work in Provincial Standing Committees:
Chris Brouillard-Coyle, chair of Political Action;
Antonella Ciampa, chair of FSL and who also acted as Functionary at this AM;
Randy Drexler, chair of Awards; and,
Nicolette Marion, chair of Anti Racist.

Deanna Pecaski McLennan also won ETFO's Writer's Award, with her article, "Bird Feeding: Giving Flight to the Imaginations of 4- and 5- Year Olds". Mike Brick, retired teacher this past year, also worked as an ETFO Functionary on the floor.

Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke to the delegation, and said: "There is no new money for compensation increases. But we have no intention of bargaining in the media ... and I am confident that the bargaining will be fair and the issues will be dealt with at the bargaining table." Ms. Wynne conceded that Bill 115 was flawed and said she wants to repair the damage and restore relationships.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also was a guest speaker. She stated that the Liberal government may have a majority, but not a monopoly. She shared that she is committed to reconnecting with Ontarians, given the June 12 election results. And, that her party is "fully committed to strengthening publicly funded education in Ontario."

Social Justice Speaker, Diane Redsky, addressed the delegation regarding human trafficking in Canada. Girls as young as 13 are being lured into prostitution, and stated: "Juvenile prostitution is child abuse." Many of these girls find safety by going to school and being in a classroom.

Soon, you will be hearing more about ETFO's collective bargaining campaign, "We are the Faces of Our Union", for this round of negotiations. This campaign will focus on our values and profession as teachers and as a union. More to come, as bargaining begins to unfold...

Thank you to each one of our members that gave up a week of their time to attend the Annual Meeting, and to help shape our union. Without a doubt, Greater Essex was a strong presence on the delegation floor, with our resolutions and strong debating. They exemplified the process of democracy at work. You should all be proud of Your Voice and Courage in action.

To view more highlights of our AM, including pictures, please visit annualmeeting.ca