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