Welcome back to school and the 2018-19 School Year which is well underway! We hope all of you had an enjoyable summer and are now ready to face what promises to be an interesting year politically. We trust that it will be a rewarding year professionally.
Thank you for all the work you have done to prepare for the students you teach. It is the dedicated work that you do and your enthusiasm for learning, which touches and changes lives. No other profession has such a direct impact. Teachers do amazing work and touch lives daily. What a marvelous profession we have!
Please remember that we are here to support you and you can contact your Local Leadership Team at any time.
Gundi, Krista, and Jennifer
In August, some of your colleagues spent four days participating in ETFO’s Annual Meeting in Toronto. Issues of concern to ETFO were debated, resolutions and to move our Union forward were passed, and expenditures were approved. Andrea Horwath and Candy Palmater gave inspiring speeches.
Delegates also marched to Queen’s Park to draw attention to the implementation of the 1998 Health & Physical Education Curriculum. ETFO members were joined by nurses, social workers, families, and other supporters on the lawn of the legislature. Andrea Horwath and the entire NDP Caucus, as well as Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner, were there to lend support and highlight the significance of this action by the Ford government and its potential impact on our students. It was hot, the sun beat down mercilessly, but the message and the action was, and still is, vital!
The week ended with a celebration of ETFO’s 20th Anniversary. This is a very special year, marking 20 years since FWTAO (Federation of Women Teachers’ Association of Ontario) and OPSTF (Ontario Public School Teachers’ Association) joined to create ETFO (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario). Delegates marked the occasion with a sea of green shirts – ‘United, Inclusive, Strong’ – on the final day of Annual Meeting.
Why is ETFO engaging politically?
You may well be asking why we, as teachers, are engaged in political activity when our role is to teach students. While it may seem counter-intuitive for teachers to be politically involved, as a part of publicly-funded education, teachers are impacted by the results of political changes and philosophies. The decisions made by the Provincial government affect our teaching environment, the demands of our jobs, and the learning conditions of our students. The Education Act, which determines our role and responsibilities is an act of Legislature. Ultimately, if we are going to effect any change on a broad scale, it will need to be in the political arena. This may not be a very comfortable position for many of our ETFO members, but it is the reality of education in Ontario.
The current actions by the Ford government to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause in order to deal with a judge’s ruling and thereby defying the checks and balances of our democracy and unilaterally changing curriculum in a hasty, poorly thought out manner, so that educators are suddenly faced with the prospect of teaching a curriculum that defies the provisions laid out in the Human Rights legislation and in Canadian law, as well as ignoring the realities of life in the 21st century are only the beginning and cause us a great deal of alarm.
I urge you take action – call or email your MPP, inform yourself on the issues, sign up for the ETFO enewsletter. This is a time when we will all need to be engaged and to take action! The time is now!
According to the Upper Grand ETFO Local Constitution: There shall be a Steward at each school/worksite in the Local. Members assigned to each school/worksite shall have a meeting in September to confirm the Steward. If there is only one candidate, that member shall be acclaimed. If an election is necessary, the Steward shall be elected by the third working Friday in September by an in-school vote.
Please note that the Steward represents Upper Grand ETFO members only, so only contract teachers may vote. If you will be running an in-school vote, please contact Krista for the procedures.
While a Steward may have another colleague who helps with distributing information or who attends a meeting when the Steward is unavailable, we can only designate one Steward per school/worksite.
Once the Steward has been confirmed, they should notify the Local office.
Workshops, Events, and Committees
Over the next few weeks, our standing committees will be planning for the year. If you have ideas for workshops or events you would like to see offered, we want to hear your suggestions. If you are interested in joining one of our committees or would like to help run an event, please let us know. The following committees are currently looking for member involvement: Equity & Human Rights, Labour & Political Action, Last Five, Men’s, New Member, Occupational Health & Safety, Professional Learning, Status of Women.
To share your suggestions or to find out more about working with a committee, please email Vice President Krista Pedersen at email@example.com and she will put you in touch with the appropriate committee chair.
In the meantime, please check out the workshop and event flyers that have already been sent out for Teacher Performance Appraisal workshops, Welcome to ETFO presentation and dinner, Pension workshops, Pregnancy/Parental Leave workshops, and Guelph’s Take Back the Night event.
Health and Safety Information:
The Ministry of Labour requires your workplace to have a site-specific hot weather plan to protect you from heat stress.
If you are affected by high temperatures and humidity in your school/site:
1. Report your health and safety concerns to your principal/supervisor.
2. Seek first aid or medical attention if needed and report any heat related illness on your school board’s reporting form for injury and illness.
3. If your site does not have a plan, or a plan has not been shared, inform your principal and contact your Upper Grand ETFO Local at (519) 837-0090.
Reporting Workplace Violence and Serious Student Incidents:
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all UGDSB employees are legally required to report accidents, violent incidents, and occupational illnesses to their immediate supervisors (teachers report to the principal).
Depending on the incident, employees must fill out an Accident, Violent Incident or Safe Schools form. Principals and supervisors cannot interfere in this process. A report must be filled out regardless of the age, gender, special needs, or intent of the parties involved.
All forms must be completed using the Board’s online reporting system.
Working Conditions Survey:
Each year, our UGETFO Members are surveyed about their school working conditions (i.e., Prep Time, Supervision Duties, 40-Minute Lunches, etc.). The survey provides important information to the Local to help us ensure that teachers’ schedules are in compliance with the Collective Agreement. Watch for the survey to come out within the next week.
If you have questions about reporting incidents, or your teaching schedule, please contact Vice President Jennifer Hesch at: (519) 837-0090 Ext. 225 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org