The Dundas Square mark-in: This group (then, without a name) first came together when a few OSSTF members became intrigued by finding out, via the Internet, about the “grade-ins” that had been organized by teacher groups in the US. They decided to create their own grade-in or mark-in (using Canadian terminology). This is the flyer we were giving out on the day and here is how the Toronto Star reported the event
The Broten visitation: Next came the opportunity to have a face to face meeting with Lauren Broten. The occasion was the annual constituency BBQ of Etobicoke Lakeshore (Broten’s riding) and it took place in the afternoon following the mass lunchtime protest at Queen’s Park organized by ETT & OSSTF on August 28. Tim Heffernan, one of the visitation group, recorded his impressions on the OSTTF D 12 Facebook page: As previously advertised on this space, Lauren Broten was hosting a constituency BBQ in her Etobicoke riding this afternoon, starting at 5:00 pm. Following the QP rally, a few of us went to pay her a visit. We were charming yet spirited. We had an information leaflet that we put on car windshields and we sported little stickers on our shirts, such as “I am a teacher, I don’t bite.” Or “I am a teacher; I’m a taxpayer too”. Pending the arrival of Ms Broten, we mingled, partook of burgers and juice, listened to the excellent student jazz ensemble performing, soaked up the sun and generally had a good time. The conversation I most enjoyed was with a working class, married couple in their 50s who had voted for Broten last time but were now very upset with her. Their daughter is a teacher who had been at the QP rally and they were quite happy to wear a sticker, which we wrote up then and there, – “I am a parent of a teacher”. And then the star of the show arrived (about 45 minutes late!). I wanted to give her a detention. To her credit, she was willing to give us a few minutes of her time before insisting on doing the usual gladhanding with the others who were there. She wanted to know if we were part of the “community” (i.e. residents in her riding). We pointed out that we were part of the community that had donated money and provided vo lunteers for her last election campaign. She didn’t respond to that. On the matter of negotiations, she challenged our claim that OSSTF had gone to the PDT and offered a 2 year wage freeze. No, she countered, the OSSTF offer was for a 4 year contract that included the first 2 years frozen and the next 2 to be adjusted in line with raises in the cost of living. “And,” we asked, “what was wrong with that?” She answered that they didn’t have “the capacity” (don’t you love the jargon?) for that and it had to be a 2 year contract followed by another one for 2 years. So, as if you didn’t know this already, don’t have any illusions that, come 2014, we’ll be able to start recovering what we’ve lost. I hope others who were present can share their thoughts on this encounter with the Minister.
Chicago Teachers Solidarity meeting. Many of us, for some time, had been excited about developments in the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU), particularly the development of a rank and file movement to democratize the union and reach out to the broader community. We were watching with keen interest as a strike situation was getting imminent. On Aug 23, 3 days before the start of the strike, we organized a meeting at a Toronto downtown location and arranged to have a Skype live hook up with Bill Lamme from the CTU. The technology worked fine and we were able to have a good interactive session with Bill regarding the strike issues and the process by which CORE (Caucus Of Rank and file Educators) had been built within the CTU. The latter part of the meeting was turned over to local issues and it was from this discussion that our next major project grew – organizing an event outside Queen’s Park to mark the passing of Bill 115.
Funeral at Queen’s Park The expected passing of the Bill was Monday, September 10. The day before, most of those who had been in attendance at the Chicago solidarity meeting met to organize for the event. This included making of props (e.g. the coffin, tombstones), writing a script and attending to other organizational details. Publicity included this funeral notice. The planning paid off and the event was a great success – 200 in attendance and a fair number of media groups there. Here is the blog report from David Chiarelli, Toronto OECTA activist Here is the video
The Wedding that turned into a protest (Posted by Tim Heffernan on Facebook on October 19 – 2 days after the event) “The MPs might be having an extended break from Queen’s Park but that’s not the case for our dedicated band of activists in ETFO and OSSTF – in September they brought you the funeral for Collective Bargaining; for Wednesday they were planning to put on the Big Fat Wedding but McGuinty’s resignation kind of upstaged that. Instead we had a different kind of political theatre with both a marriage theme (union of corporate elites with Liberal and Tory machines) and a funeral theme (another nail in the coffin of democracy with the proroguing of Parliament.) For a description from a participant of how the event was supposed to pan out, check out this notice of the event from the blog of Toronto OECTA member, David Chiarelli. From the same source, a personal take on how the event turned out
Early January 2013 – You tube video and petition
The REWT social and fundraiser, March 1st, featuring Mike Ford and Faith Nolan