Know any talented students? Know any students who would like an avenue to express themselves creatively? Know any students who are motivated by MONEY??? Well if you do, you may want to let them know about the OSSTF/FEESO Student Achievement Awards for 2015. The theme this year is Transforming Characters and students are invited to produce and submit an original piece of writing, visual art or a video based on that theme. Winners receive $1000 and are invited to an awards ceremony at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation Annual Meeting in Toronto in March. We have had several notable winners from Simcoe County in the past and there are bound to be many more potential winners waiting in the wings. You could be the person to bring out that talent. The deadline is fast approaching. Click on the picture above for more information.
Were you at our district meeting on September 22nd? Did you hear the presentations from Provincial Executive? Did you talk about it afterwards back at work? There was a lot of information presented, all of it very important. If you didn't make it, you can still have a chance to seek clarification and ask questions and state your opinion. Your time released officers will be coming to see you!!! We are going to all of the 'outlying' schools and offering a time at the district office at 51 King Street for people in the Barrie area (apologies to Barrie branches, we just couldn't fit all the branches in with the timelines we had). See the chart below and make plans to attend one of these meetings. You have a very important choice to make on October 7th or 8th.
We have had several calls or inquiries in the office about VLAP days. Those Voluntary Leave of Absence days were really quite popular. Unfortunately, they aren't continuing to be available to members at this time. So what do you do if your best friend has gone and planned a destination wedding in sunny Jamaica for the middle of gloomy November?? Well you can apply for a leave without pay but this is a 'once in a lifetime' thing. That means you can't have another best friend who does the same thing next year too and hope to get a leave approved then. The forms are available on the staff website but please don't book anything non-refundable until you have approval!! Good news though, if you do get a 5 day or less leave approved by the board, you won't need to pay back your pension. Of course if your leave is longer than that it would be wise to buy it back. It's nice to know though that there is one little break that you will get. Click on the little yellow apple on the top for more information about this. Oh and please don't go and plan your own wedding in Jamaica in November. You may end up having your reception in snowy Everett after your request for leave is denied while the rest of your non-teaching wedding party catches some rays on the beach.
October 27th seems like it's ages away at this point. Hopefully you haven't just said 'what's happening on October 27th?'. Hopefully you know that that is the date of the municipal election in Ontario. We will be electing mayors and reeves and councillors and trustees and any number of local representative. These people affect our lives every day and we pay taxes to support this system. As a voter, you need to do your homework and find out who is worthy of your vote. Municipal politics are supposed to be non-partisan. That isn't always the case. Sometimes the ties are a little harder to decipher. Thankfully we have Mr. Google, my dear friend and research assistant. We also have wonderful websites such as http://www.bdlc.info/municipal-election-information.html where we can find listings of who is actually running. Click on those links. Read those names. Check with Mr. Google. Talk to your neighbours and colleagues. Put October 27th in your calendar, maybe even with an alarm. You need to vote that day and you need to make a good choice. 4 years is a very long time.
Know any students who would like to go into politics one day? Would they like to know what it's like to represent constituents at Queen's Park? The Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament is a new educational program designed for civic-minded high school students in grades 10 to 12, who are interested in current events and provincial issues. Click on the picture for more information. Applications will be accepted until October 16th.
Friday September 12th was a big day at municipal offices around the province and 2pm was the most important hour. It was then that nominations for the Ontario Municipal Election closed. It was hard to miss the big Rob/Doug Ford shuffle but what was happening in your neck of the woods? Have you checked out who is running?
October 27th 2014 is the date of the Ontario Municipal Elections. We often refer to ‘levels’ of government when discussing Federal, Provincial or Municipal elections. I would agree with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi that this creates a hierarchy which places Federal politics at the top. In reality though, Federal Government, while very important, is the branch which affects your daily life the least. If the Federal Government and all their services were to disappear today, it would probably take you at least a month to notice, perhaps when your GST rebate didn’t arrive. If the Provincial Government were to disappear, you may notice in a week or the next time you tried to use your OHIP card. If your Municipal Government were to disappear, you would notice the first time you turned on a tap or flushed your toilet.
With all of that, we give our Municipal Electoral Candidates the least amount of support. Municipal Elections traditionally have the lowest voter turnout. On October 27th we will be electing town councilors (or reeves or wardens or mayors etc) but perhaps more importantly for those of us working in education, we will be electing our School Board Trustees. Please do your research and vote wisely. Please support a campaign if you have time (or money). Please remind your colleagues for vote on the 27th. Please make your vote count!
Some of you may have stayed at hotels over the summer vacation, or at other times, hockey tournaments, shopping trips, weekend getaways. Some of those hotels will offer you a 'great deal'. Opt out of the daily cleaning programme if you're staying more than one night and get a $5 credit!! Or bonus points for their rewards programme. It may seem like a good idea at the time but as http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/09/24/SkipHotelCleaning/ points out, it may not be such a good deal, especially as far as labour is concerned. It's an older article but it explains the issue very well and the problem still exists.
The program the union objects to is Westin's "Green Card" option, which allows guests to place a card on the door of their room or suite indicating that the cleaning staff can skip the usual clean up that day. Hotel management see this optional program, for which guests are rewarded with a $5.00 food and beverage voucher each time they pass on having their room cleaned, as good for the environment, but the union disagrees.
"Although marketed as a 'green program,' it was introduced in part to achieve productivity savings for the company and to increase guests' food and beverage expenditures," says a press release from Local 40.
"Housekeepers report that after several days of guests using the vouchers, the rooms can take two to three times longer to clean, requiring more water, electricity and cleaning chemicals. As the number of guests using the vouchers increases on a given day, so does the number of housekeepers cut from the day's schedule."
One of the workers on the picket line told The Tyee that for every 15 rooms that take advantage of the "Green Card" option, a hotel employee loses a shift.
I usually just put that promotion card in the recycling bin, indicating to the worker that they have my support and I value their job and the work that they do. Consider doing that as well the next time you see one of those cards.
One good thing about hotels are those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner that they put in the bathrooms. I volunteer on the Busby Outreach van that supports homeless and the disadvantaged in the Barrie area. We often have requests for soap and shampoo and those tiny little bottles are just the right size. If you have nowhere to store a more economical big bottle, those little bottles are enough for a wash or two and are easier to keep in a backpack (along with your other worldly belongings).
Sometimes, as a union we will take those toiletries to a local shelter for the same reason. It's a little thing but can make a big difference. If you have a stockpile of those little bottles at home, you can bring them to our District office, unit 6-51 King St. in Barrie and we will see that they get to someone who needs them.
Unions don't just improve the lives of their members, the work unions do reaches out into communities for the greater good of all.
Well done everyone!! You made it through the first week! Now of course it was only a 4 day week but I bet it felt way longer. At a certain point in the summer, school seems for far away and remote yet you step back through that door and it seems like you never had any time off at all. Do yourself a favour and do something for yourself this weekend. There are lots of great events happening around Simcoe County.
Go to Casino Rama and spin that big wheel on The Price is Right. They're bringing all the games to the casino and maybe you could get called to 'come on down!'. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to playing that mountain climber game, yo-dee-oh-de-oh.
Go to a Farmers' Market. We grow some of the best food in the world in our back yards and we need to be shopping local and eating local and supporting local. If you're really energetic you could do some preserves but I prefer to just eat it fresh. I've considered having peaches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you don't want to go win fabulous prizes or go eat amazing local food then just go outside (no, that isn't me). Enjoy the last bits of summer weather. Breathe in some fresh air. Take a nap outside. Just take some time for yourself. 194 days is a long time and June is miles away. Winter will come but you can remember you took some time for yourself and you will feel better because of it. Have a great weekend!!
Are you interested in becoming more involved? Here's a perfect opportunity and it's FREE!!!!
September 13th at the Legion in Orillia, there will be an Engager workshop put on by the Canadian Labour Congress. Just click on the pics below to get to the registration website.
For the first time since 1991, I am not in front of a class or at home with a baby (ok actually I've been in a class since kindergarten at Steele St. Public School in 1972 but who's counting?).
I am the new Teachers' Bargaining Unit President for District 17 - Simcoe of OSSTF. I can say after only 24 hours that this is like nothing I have done before. If you know me at all, you will have heard me say my goal in teaching was to NOT end up on the front page of the Era Banner (I started teaching in Keswick). Well the Era Banner doesn't care about me but I am front page on the Orillia Packet and Times and not too far from the front page in the Barrie Examiner. Click here for the story. I don't mind this coverage though because we are fighting to have our teachers treated with respect, something every worker wants.
That's what unions are and what unions do. Yes, sometimes we end up on a picket line but you have to know that 99% of collective agreements are settled without anyone walking out or being locked out. Our contract expired on the 31st of August and we will be negotiating a new one over the course of this year and we have every expectation that we will end up with significant improvements (as Provincial OSSTF President Paul Elliott said in his speech at Summer Leadership, available for viewing on the Member Protected Section of osstf.on.ca
As a union, we work to protect our members and make their lives better. To quote the Canadian Labour Congress:
Having a union on your side makes your job and your workplace safer and fairer. You get paid better and are more likely to have benefits that help you balance work with life at home. Your health and ability to do your job become important, and your right to fair treatment gets enforced.
If you are a TBU member of D17, I will be on your side. Call, email, visit but most of all help each other. It might be a long year but YOUR union is there for YOU!
The view from my desk, as Teacher Bargaining Unit President for D17 Simcoe