At the time of writing, we have 101 signatories to the petition aimed at Paul Elliot, requesting that he and OSSTF disassociate themselves from Ken Coran and his Liberal party candidacy in the London West by-election (and where Ken came in a miserable third place last week).
You may say 101 is a puny number in the light of OSSTF’s 60,000 membership. And you’d be right. You may conclude that a seeming failure to garner more names to the petition is an indication that most OSSTF members are happy with or indifferent to what Coran has done. And you’d be wrong. Well you might have a point about indifference since the majority of OSSTF members, more than ever, are indifferent, cynical and/ or apathetic. Oops, am I being too negative? I should perhaps use the term “disengaged”, the euphemism they prefer to employ at 60 Mobile Drive, Toronto (home of provincial OSSTF).
But I digress. 100+ is indeed a puny number. But in defence of the puny, it is quite a challenge to reach 60,000 people over the summer months when the only communication means at our disposal is social media with all the randomness and “scatter gunnishness” which goes with that beast. Not that I would expect Pierre Cote (OSSTF General Secretary) or OSSTF District leaders to hand over private e-mail lists of members so that they could be solicited by the likes of me. After all, electronic communication with the membership is reserved mainly for selling an MOU or scaring people to vote for said MOU with “arguments” about our legal challenge to Bill 115 being undermined if we vote no.
Anyway, 101 is better than nothing. Every time someone signed, Paul Elliot should have received an e-mail indicating this and also the comments, if any, the petitioners made. As organizer of the petition, I am privy to those comments. Here are some of them which I have made anonymous by blanking out names:
Before you read on, the petition is still active and can be accessed by this link:
• Paul, why wouldn’t you meet with us? Member engagement is always an issue within the union, yet your inaction disengages members further. Your tenure as OSSTF President has just started, and you have already stumbled. Coran’s decision to join the enemy is wrong, wrong, wrong. The citizens of London West know this –that’s why he is trailing in the polls in 3rd place, with a mere 17% of the vote. By staying silent, you have backed a candidate who, in addition to losing, is perceived as an opportunist whose interests are purely selfish. You may think that by staying silent, you are staying out of the controversy, but by staying silent, you are condoning Coran’s actions. Coran is setting a precedent for future OSSTF Presidents, and that is unacceptable.
• Although recently retired, for 20 years I was an active leader within the Federation. There was a time when O.S.S.T.F. was widely viewed as the strongest and most principled defender of teachers and of public education in the province of Ontario. We didn’t always win but we seldom had to apologize. Sadly, actions such as Coran’s decision to run for the Liberals have served to breed cynicism and contempt. Public education needs a strong O.S.S.T.F. and its time for the current leadership to show that strength by disavowing Coran’s actions. Lots of folks are listening and continued silence from the top will echo forward for a very long time.
• Because our union should put members first, not the political aspirations of its politician class.
• Just had supper with an ETFO provincial rep and they can not believe it either. As an ETFO member, I look at Coran’s candidacy for the Liberal Party as a betrayal of all we fought for in opposing Bill 115, and a tacit endorsement of what this government has done to all teachers and other education workers. Malcolm Buchanan has asked you to take a principled stand, and if you have principles and really do oppose Bill 115, you must publicly oppose Coran’s opportunistic run for the Liberals, distance OSSTF from him, and follow his former position and endorse the NDP. Perhaps you would like to see the Conservatives win this riding?
• Dear Paul, As our new President it is imperative to make a stand against the actions of Ken Coran running as a Liberal MP. His very actions are now threatening the possibility of a strong NDP candidate from being elected in that riding. His actions are nothing but selfish. The optics of Ken running reek of disloyalty to our Union, regardless of his intentions. Your silence against this issue is acceptance. By you making a stand against his actions this allows us to have faith in our Union and your leadership.
• Ken’s actions are a conflict of interest to the OSSTF union. He has weakened the bonds of solidarity of our Union, by endorsing the actions of the very enemy, who rob us of our constitutional collective bargaining rights, and in doing so, has aligned with that enemy. Failing to be transparent with his members, he has lost our trust. The strength of our Union relies on the Solidarity of the Union, which, in turn, needs to be rebuilt. This can only begin once the Union publically disassociates itself from Coran’s actions. Ken Coran’s actions MUST NOT be endorsed!
• Coran’s opportunistic politics and strategies were no match against the severity of the imposed contract. We must disassociate ourselves to maintain the integrity of our union against opportunism.
• I am appalled at the silence from PE. Say something!
• Very fishy timing. Ken was approached by OLP while local negotiations were still occurring and the implementation of the MOU terms were underway. This reflects badly on the membership of OSSTF. The public already has a poor view of educational workers, and their relationship with the Liberals (see Working Family Coalition). Our union needs to stand firmly, with solidarity, against the OLP for the next few years in order to prevent “Bill 116”.
• I feel Ken’s inaction on bill 115 and suspicious timing of his entry into the liberal enclave proves complicity with Liberal government for his own gain at the cost of millions of dollars of lost wages, benefits and the right to strike! I think we should push for a public inquiry to have him charged with conflict of interest.
• I am an OSSTF member. I am ashamed to be part of an organization that allows such conflicts of interest to occur behind closed doors.
• I feel that Ken is a rat.
• It’s important because the of stink it on Mr. Coran and the liberal party. As well, our “leaders” have a duty to us, not themselves which this clearly is. Lastly, how much credibility does anyone in this current government or Mr. Coran now have in education. They are just enriching themselves at our expense.
• I really liked Ken but this move, so soon after our struggle is a slap in the face to all OSSTF members.
• I strongly oppose Ken’ s move.
• You make us look ridiculous. This is as self-serving as the ‘secret vote’ you engineered –ostensibly in order to garner the part nomination.
• What a great legacy.
• From a long term perspective, Coran’s cosying to the Liberals shows the current political action strategy of OSSTF to be totally ineffective. To negotiate well, political pressure is a necessity. If the Federation is perceived to be as impotent as a eunuch or castrati, no government – Liberal, Conservative or NDP will take the Federation seriously when it negotiates. Furthermore, as long as the Federation buys into the nonsense of a provincial table for negotiations, teachers will find their working conditions and remuneration eroded. Remember what you negotiate has a huge impact on your future pension and your future pension contributions. What Coran did and the silence or perhaps the tacit connivance of OSSTF is Gomperism at its worst.
• Feeling betrayed by Ken Coran’s “leadership” and needing some sort of a sign from Paul Elliot as to where he stands!
• The obvious conflict of interest here causes one to suspect that the interests of the OSSTF members have been sold out for Ken’s personal benifi
• While Ken Coran got what he deserved in the election results, the OSSTF needs to state and maintain a principled stand in favour of candidates who will fight for a fully funded public education system and expose the great harm Austerity is doing to education and our economy in general. Ken Coran joined a party that clearly supports destructive austerity measures.