Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Those who fail to report for duty will be terminated?


Dear Readers,
Below is an article, verbatim by Louise Brown and Kristin Rushowy, Education Reporters for the Toronto Star about `Ontario school unrest: High school teachers’ union forbids after-school volunteering` that was published on Wednesday January 09, 2013. My response is below that followed by space for your comment, if you choose although I am finding my email box filling up.

Ontario high school students hoping to have their extracurriculars restored protested last month against Bill 115 at Queen's Park. In the latest development, the high school teachers' union has instructed members they "WILL NOT" voluntarily involve themselves in after-school programs.
                                                                  photo by STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation has instructed its 50,000 members — in capital letters and a bold font — that they “WILL NOT” return to voluntary extracurriculars, leaving some teachers frustrated at the bid to take the decision out of their hands. The union posted the directive on its website late Monday, with wording that goes beyond merely suggesting that teachers think twice before running after-school programs again, now that the Ontario government has imposed unpopular contracts on them using Bill 115.

The order comes despite pleas from Premier Dalton McGuinty that teachers restore clubs, teams and trips now that they no longer are in a legal strike position. The government has pledged to repeal Bill 115 now that it has used it to impose two-year contracts on teachers in public English-language schools. The deals reduce benefits, freeze wages and end the cashing in of sick days upon retirement.

“I’m very upset. Some of us have been telling students this week that they’d start to see things return slowly in the coming weeks — girls’ rugby, for example — and now they’re telling us we can’t do it,” fumed one York Region teacher Tuesday after receiving the edict in an email. He would not give his name for fear of being disciplined by the union. The high school teacher said that while about half of his colleagues do not plan to return to extracurriculars because they are angry at the government, others, like him, have decided “the battle’s over, we have contracts and let’s move on.”

This is the kind of turmoil that some public school officials fear could drive boycott-weary students into the arms of other school systems. A spokesman for the Greater Essex County board in the Windsor area told the Star that could be the reason some teachers there have decided to resume coaching sports. “Since students have a clear choice of schools in all our communities, without activities outside the classrooms we will, no doubt, lose students. And the number of teachers we have is based on the number of students we have. It’s a simple formula,” said Scott Scantlebury.

The memo from the OSSTF states that, “while we are resuming our imposed contractual obligations and all of our duties in accordance with the Education Act, it has always been the position of OSSTF that the performance of extra-curricular activities is voluntary.” Yet the letter from president Ken Coran then cites a union decision made last month that if the government imposes contracts, “voluntary or extracurricular activities WILL NOT resume.”

Both the OSSTF and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario will meet Wednesday with their executives to decide what to do next to protest the imposed contracts, including a possible one-day political protest, which the government says would be deemed an illegal strike if held on a school day.
The ETFO has used somewhat more nuanced wording to urge its 76,000 members not to run after-school programs, calling such a boycott “both appropriate and necessary” but stopping short of commanding members to do so.

Education lawyers say it’s unclear without a test case whether a union has the right to dictate what members do on their own time, but lawyer Eric Roher said he received frantic calls Tuesday from school boards across the province after learning teachers were being ordered to keep up their boycott of extracurriculars.
“It’s not straightforward at all,” said Roher, of Borden Ladner Gervais. He said the Mike Harris government had designated extracurriculars part of a teacher’s duty, making any collective boycott of extracurriculars a type of strike, but the Liberal government removed that from the Education Act in 2009, leaving extracurriculars in legal limbo.

However, in an article to be published in his firm’s education law newsletter, Roher cites landmark rulings by former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Bora Laskin in 1975 and an arbitrator with the Durham Catholic District School Board in 1999 that if teachers have performed a key volunteer service for long enough, it can be deemed a required duty.

Meanwhile, some Toronto parents say they want the Toronto District School Board to help parents and community volunteers prepare to run some after-school programs themselves, as the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has done with a new system developed last fall for such “exceptional circumstances” as the current labor turmoil.

“We need to hope for the best but plan for the worst if teachers aren’t going to be running programs; we need to get the right information on how to expedite background checks and permits and the insurance paperwork, and the TDSB could help expedite this,” said Mark Richardson, father of two students at Toronto’s Bowmore Road Public School.

The Ottawa board has hired seven retired principals at a cost of $30,000 so far to screen potential volunteers who have been referred by local school principals, said associate director Walter Piovesan. They are then trained in safety and proper procedures before they begin at a school. Some 150 people have stepped forward so far, most of them parents.

However some TDSB trustees said they worry some schools could muster many parent volunteers while other schools could not, which would not be fair.

                                                                Kids at School
my response....

It looks like the days of staying silent and watching our good teachers being attacked by union buffoons is over, judging by comments from some teachers! When teacher unions; in their mind 'the ultimate dictators' refuse to recognize the need for change and Ontario government education leaders sell out mindlessly, taxpayers believe that essentially, they have no voice in education. That has proven to be not just undemocratic, it’s dangerous.

                                                                 more Kids at School

While it may be convenient to blame the McGuinty Liberal government for gross negligence in pandering to the teacher unions...and their members votes for the last 9 years, in all fairness, the teachers union brought this particular situation on themselves! Should the union react with a `wildcat`strike or as they say, a `political protest`, the government now has the authority, with Bill 115 to fine those teachers who walk out during school hours. When the teacher's have a contract in place, walking off the job is called an illegal strike!

                                                          even  more Kids at School

With elementary teachers, some early childhood educators and other school staff threatening to walk off the job on Friday, has the time come to legislate 'Right to Work' legislation to protect those teachers who don't support union leadership? Shutting down public schools around the province is sure to distance the teacher's union even further! Considering the bickering and threats going on inside the union and membership, could it be the right time for Education Minister Laurel Broten to say, "I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.", just as Ronald Reagan did in 1981?



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 A 'wild cat' strike? Those who fail to report for duty will be terminat...

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