Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Teachers working on McGuinty campaign

I think this is an issue we should investigate before the next election - Teachers took time off to work for Liberals.

Supply teachers have to be hired. Where does that money come from?

Meanwhile in Kitchener, the public board is throwing around the idea of making the kids pay for substitute teachers if they want to go on a field trip.

Isn't public education wonderful?


Red Tory said...

Hmmm. There’s sure a lot of innuendo in that short article you’re basing this on. How many is “many” exactly? The “union business” encompasses any number of things in addition to “political activism that supports public education.” The practice seems unacceptable to me, but I think the suggestion you and Sandy are making that this is widespread might be overblown. Why don’t you practice a little of that vaunted “citizen journalism” and call your local teacher’s union office to find out how common (or not) this practice is.

Red Tory said...

I'd just add to that, Sandy seems to be suggesting that teachers are using their full allotment of available days for "union business" to work as political volunteers. I find this pretty hard to swallow. Maybe some take a day or two, but 20...? I rather suspect not.

Anonymous said...

The numbers are not important. It is the principle. Wonder if any of those teachers wanted a day off to work on a PC candidates campaign(there are a few going against the flow)...would it fly?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

It may not seem right, but if the union has collectively bargained with the school board that teachers be given a certain number of days a year to work on "union business" then the teachers should get a certain number of days a year to work on union business. A contract is a contract, whether we like it or not.

That said, it seems to me that once it's in the collective agreement it's up to the UNION, not the school board or anyone else to determine what is or is not "union business". Again, it may seem weird, but if the union has negotiated a contract that allows it's workers days off to do work for the union (which most unions do) then it's the union's business to use that time as they see fit.

Now, if teachers themselevs have a problem with this use of that time (for example, were a teacher wanting to campaign for a Tory with the time, and was refused) then those teachers should complain to the union. They're union members, and they have a say in how their union operates. However, this is an issue between the union and it's members.

For those of us outside of the union (and I'd point out that this article is about one school district, and one local union, not the whole province, let alone "many teachers") if you want to complain about something, complain about the contract the school board negotiated with the union. If you don't like that the unions have this in their contract it makes little sense to blame the unions. Blame the people who negotiated the contract with the union. It's not the UNION's job to look out for taxpayers, or even students frankly (though that is the TEACHERS' job, it's not their UNION's job). The union's job is to look out for their members. Just like a croporation's "job" is to make money for it's shareholders. Period. Don't get mad at them if they did a really good job! That makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Keep your head in the sand Red Tory, because the practice of seconding teachers to work on political campaigns goes back for years and years.

It works like this. Teachers can sign on to work anywhere in the province. For example, during the second Harris campaign, many moved into Dave Johnson's riding(yes, even rented temporary digs) to work to unseat him.

What do you think union dues are paying for? You don't actually believe it's all going to negotiate better contracts do you? Actually, there in the USA there's currently a move afoot to stop teacher union dues from going into political action campaigns, such as we have seen here in Ontario and some other provinces over the years.

I believe that Joanne and Sandy are on to something. As a matter of fact I'd suggest that they keep this education ball high in the air because in another few weeks it's all going to come crashing back down to earth.

Waiting with baited breath for the first union job action because the big winners during those are the champions for school choice because quite frankly the one thing parents hate more than hypocrisy and being nickled and dimed to death by the education system is when the unions start disrupting their children't education. It's not a matter of "if" with this goverment...but "when".

Matt said...

It may not seem right, but if the union has collectively bargained with the school board that teachers be given a certain number of days a year to work on "union business" then the teachers should get a certain number of days a year to work on union business. A contract is a contract, whether we like it or not.

There should be a law forbidding unions to allow the expenditure of taxpayer's money on partisan entities. This behaviour and practice is unscrupulous.

Anonymous said...

Lord Kit. - while it may well have been negotiated, what needs to come to light is that parents are being asked to pay out of their pockets to a system they already pay way too much tax for, for those substitute teachers who are needed to replace those wanting to campaign instead of teach students.

The double-standard of the system, as always is thick. Another one of those "do as we say" things.

Anonymous said...

Follow the link to know step by step how this works. Look under the heading Casebook Diary

Dave said...

Actually, the taxpayers are not on the hook here, as the union is reimbursing the school board for the cost of the supply teachers. The money comes out of the teachers' pockets in the form of their dues to the union. I know of a few teachers who have been released for a day a week to work on local campaigns, certainly not very "many" as the article and some of the posters imply. Also, my understanding is that fewer teachers have been released in this election than in the last. Seems like a storm in a teacup to me.

Anonymous said...


Correction. The Union reimburses the Board for the teacher's salary. Not the supply teacher.

Anonymous said...

True 'a contract is a contract'. However one wonders what the response would be if say - oh I don't know - a corporation gave its employees paid 'release time' to man the ship of a PC candidate.

To my knowledge this is considered a donation in kind by Elections Ontario. One also wonders if local candidates edorsed by the Teacher's Unions are claiming these 'donations'.

Anonymous said...

Huh, I'm now wondering if may the choice we should have offered is to teachers to have a say in where their dues go.

Again in the USA there's already a movement afoot by the unions to change their representation if they don't like it. I believe the initiative is called T.U.R.N.(Teachers Union Reform Network), it's taking on things like union dues being spent inappropriately, and being able to opt out of union membership.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joanne - that Society for Quality Education group site is really quite awesome. I have to wonder why with such an organization in the province John Tory's team didn't draw on them more? I have to even wonder whether they know about this group? I'm guessing not.

paulsstuff said...

The problem that nobody mentioned is that election campiagn's must account for people who are being paad for their help. If what Dave says is correct in that the union pays the board for the supply teacher, then a cost has been paid that is benefitting the party the teacher's are working for.

All costs should be declared as a campaign expense by that party. Otherwise it's a pretty large loophole to skirt limits on campaign spending. The fact the teacher's are I assume paid for their "union business" days, regardless of the number, should be a declared campaign expense.

paulsstuff said...

Sorry for the spelling errors. I'll drink my coffee before posting next time.

Anonymous said...

Teachers unions are part of the Working Families Coalition(Ontario Secondary School Teachers and English Catholic Teachers) We've all seen the attack ads of TV. Elementary Teachers' Federation is also asking members to vote Liberal. Then there are the School board trustees of the One School System Network. They're all worried about loosing their monopoly.

My tax dollars go to buy off the unions. My tax $s pay for a teacher to campaign. My tax $s pay for trustees to campaign. And because trustees signed the teachers contracts, all's OK?

Kingston said...

Paulstuff, that is a interesting theory, if the unions are paying the teachers to be there by reimbursing the school boards they are in fact funding a political party. What is the rule on this. I have no problem with a teacher taking time off to campaign for any party if they feel that strongly about it, but one , they should be getting paid, or they should be taking vacation time.

Dave said...

Just to correct an earlier comment from anonymous, it is the supply teacher costs that are reimbursed by the union (about $200 per day). The actual costs of a teacher, especially an experienced teacher, would be much higher. A teacher is paid by the Board for 194 school days and continues to get paid even if they are away sick(up to a limit), attending a funeral, or negotiating a contract. In the case of releasing teachers for "union business", the extra cost to the Board is the supply teacher so this is the amount that the union pays. Usually the local union office and the provincial office share the costs, but it all comes from their own revenue (fees) and is included in their budgets. These budgets are approved by their membership at annual meetings. Some people (even some teachers) may be squeamish about releasing teachers for "union business" so that they can then "volunteer" to work in election campaigns, but it's all completely above board and does not contravene any election laws. Unions are inherently political, especially when their main concerns are front and centre in an election campaign. It's really a bit unrealistic to expect them to refrain from using what power and influence they have.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks for clarifying that, Dave. I take it that you're a teacher?

Joanne (True Blue) said...


greenleaf said,

October 10, 2007 at 4:57 pm

I heard a fellow on CBC from Globe & mail - Murray
Campbell and he says whoever wins the election is really the loser
because they think Ont is headed for recession, McGuinty signed 4 yr
contracts with 25,000 doctors, 50,000 nurses, 125,000 teachers &
75,000 public servants and all contracts are due this coming year
and will want massive increases. Also the municipalities get the
property tax only to run their govt and McG had frozen them for 3
years and a review is due in 2008 and municipalities will want a 3
yr catch up. Also we are running out of electricity and it takes 10
years to get new nuclear, etc so another problem that has been
delayed by McG. Maybe Tory is smart ands if he loses this one may
get it next time around!

So there is always a silver lining.

Anonymous said...

A blast from the past. Who can forget this Christina Blizzard column from July 2002- "Look For The Union Label"

excerpt "Today's case involves Kathleen Wynne. Specifically, let's look at some of the folks who contributed to her election campaign in 2000-2001. A number of union backers. There is nothing improper about this. Unions are entitled to throw their considerable financial clout behind whomever they want. It is important, however, that voters know who is supporting a candidate. Especially when the unions supporting the candidate will later be involved in negotiations wi the TDSB. Wynne, raised $27,300 from about 100 contributors to her 2000 campaign with a maximum individual donation allowed of $750. Among her supporters were CUPE Local 4400($300), the Elementary Teachers of Toronto($500), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 12 Political Action Committee($454), and the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers Association($100). All of those unions, except for the Catholic teachers, have members who work for the Toronto school board. Last year when CUPE local 4400 was on strike, Wynne was on the steering committee for the board, as well as being the board's spokesperson. "There was nothing illegal or inappropriate in what I have done," Wynne told me in an interview."

There's much more but you get my drift.

Same column -"Do I think unions should be able to make political donations?" Wynne asked rhetorically. "Yes, I do"

"Of course, Wynne isn't just a school trustee. She's also the nominated provincial candidate in the riding of Don Valley West. As such, given her political aspirations, you have to wonder how much of a commitment Wynne has to helping to bring peace to the public education system at this time. After all, if the TDSB were suddenly to find it could balance its budget, a giant chunk of the Liberals' election platform in Toronto-that the Torie's are solely responsible for never-ending conflict in Toronto schools-would drop off the face of the Earth. Finally, Wynne has some other interesting names on her donors' list. "

Sandy said...

Joanne -- Just a reminder to your readers that this issue was not brought up by you or me, but the Kingston-Whig Standard and others. We are simply responding to that news.

IMO we need to find out the exact numbers. As a former teacher, I am appalled that no one seems to be thinking about the children. It doesn't matter whether a teacher is gone one day a week or longer, it is the start of a new school year and they deserve to have their regular teacher. It is hard enough when a teacher is sick.

Let the school boards (not the unions) tell us the numbers and then the public can decide whether it is an issue or not.

And, by the way, even though the teachers' unions were paying the substitute teachers pay, we don't know if they also paid the regular teachers' benefits, such as health and life insurance and pension benefits. Those amounts can add up to a considerable amount of money.

The bottom line is if this is what teachers want to do, fine, but let teachers work for the party of their choice, not one party.

However, I have no plans to continue this inquiry. I'm a retired teacher, an old broad at that, and feel very tired right about now.

So, no matter who wins tonight, the voters will have spoken and I am fine with that. That is the essence of democracy.

Tomorrow I plan to write something about "organizational strategies for school and work."

Have a good night everyone no matter what the outcome!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the first time Dalton has to deal with a job action by teachers. We can all remind him of his "Hypocrisy"(at least he's consistant)and the editorial of the same name from the Ottawa Sun Oct. 30 1997.

"Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty didn't invent political hypocrisy, he merely took it to new heights when he urged striking teachers this week to continue their illegal campaign against the Harris government. Would this be the same Dalton McGuinty, who a few years back, introduced a private member's bill in the legislature that would have effectively stripped teachers of their right to strike? Would this be the same Dalton McGuinty who cried crocodile tears over the plight of students when teachers in Ottawa-Carleton shut down their classrooms in 1002? Would boldly pronounced that teachers and school boards most certainly do nogt speak for students' interests when they engage in walkouts or lockouts?"

"A word of advice for striking teachers: Get to know your enemy. But first, get to know your allies. You might be surprised what you find."