April 19, 2016

Motion to Censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

In order to hold our syndical leadership accountable for the blatantly dishonest way that information about the negotiated agreement on salary was presented to the public, the teachers of Westmount High School have submitted the following motion to be debated by the Montreal Teachers Association. We encourage other members of the Common Front to pass similar motions in order to send a clear message that consciously misleading the public in order to have an agreement approved is utterly unacceptable.

La version française suivra

Motion to Censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

Whereas one-time lump sum payments, investment in resources and money for bonuses are very different from salary increases that benefit teachers for the rest of their careers, and

Whereas at a December 20th Common Front press conference the following occurred:

  • one-time lump sum payments, investment in resources and money for bonuses were presented as if they were salary increases, with the claim that government’s salary offer had moved from 3 percent to 9.15 -10.25 percent
  • the goal of ‘stopping the continued impoverishment of members’ was presented as if it had been achieved.
  • speculation was offered that given the low rate of inflation, public sector workers might even come out ahead in terms of buying power by the end of the contract.

Whereas the misinformation presented by the Common Front leadership gave the public and union members the mistaken impression that the government’s offer was much more generous than it actually was, and

Whereas similar misinformation (presenting the salary increase as 9.15 -10.25 percent) had been widely reported in the media two days previous, and

Whereas Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers President Richard Goldfinch failed not only to send in corrections to the major English media outlets or even to his own members, he also failed to ensure that the Common Front press conference held two days later would not repeat this misinformation, and

Whereas even if the leadership of the Common Front sincerely believed that this was the best deal possible for its members, it is utterly unacceptable to use manipulation and deceit in order to have the agreement approved by members

Be it resolved that the members of the MTA hereby censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch for failing to ensure that the information presented at the December 20th Common Front press conference was as accurate as possible, and

Be it further resolved that MTA President Peter Sutherland be directed to draft a letter to each of the Presidents of the labour federations participating in the Common Front expressing the dissatisfaction of MTA members over the manipulative and deceitful way that information about the agreement in principle was presented to the public.

 

MOTION

Considérant que les sommes forfaitaires, ajouts aux ressources et primes sont des montants très différents des hausses salariales qui profitent aux enseignants et enseignantes pour le reste de leur carrière;

Considérant qu’à une conférence de presse du Front commun tenue le 20 décembre 2015, les faits suivants sont survenus:

  • des sommes forfaitaires, des ajouts aux ressources et des primes ont été présentés comme des hausses salariales, laissant croire que l’offre salariale du gouvernement était passée de 3% à 9,15-10,25%;
  • On a présenté comme atteint l’objectif voulant que soit stoppé l’appauvrissement des membres;
  • On a spéculé que, considérant les bas taux d’inflation, les travailleurs et travailleuses du secteur public pourraient même s’en sortir avec une augmentation réelle de leur pouvoir d’achat à la fin de leur contrat;

Considérant que l’information présentée par la direction du Front commun a donné la fausse impression aux membres et au public que l’offre du gouvernement était beaucoup plus généreuse qu’elle l’était en réalité;

Considérant que l’information (présentant la hausse salariale comme se situant entre 9,15% et 10,25% selon les secteurs) a été diffusée largement dans les médias deux jours avant ladite conférence de presse;

Considérant que le président de l’Association provinciale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (APEEQ), Richard Goldfinch, a non seulement omis de corriger l’information inexacte qui circulait dans les médias anglophones, ou même de la corriger auprès de ses propres membres, mais qu’il a également omis de s’assurer que la même fausse information ne serait pas répétée à la conférence de presse deux jours plus tard;

Considérant que même si la direction du Front commun croyait sincèrement que l’entente de principe était réellement la meilleure entente pour ses membres, il est tout à fait inacceptable qu’il ait eu recours à la manipulation et la tromperie afin de faire accepter cette entente par ses membres;

Il est résolu que par la présente, les membres de l’AEEM expriment leur insatisfaction à l’endroit du président de l’APEEQ Richard Goldfinch qui a omis de s’assurer que l’information à la conférence de presse du Front commun du 20 décembre n’était pas aussi exacte que possible, et;

Il est aussi résolu que le président de l’AEEM Peter Sutherland soit instruit de rédiger une lettre à chacun des présidents et présidentes des fédérations membres du Front commun de façon à exprimer l’insatisfaction des membres de l’AEEM quant à l’information manipulatrice et trompeuse ayant été diffusée au public et aux membres du Front commun à propos de l’entente de principe sur les salaires.

January 28, 2016

Why are university students lacking basic literacy skills? CJAD’s Teachers Panel discusses declining academic standards in Quebec’s public schools

Teachers Robert Green and Catharine Hogan discuss the declining academic standards in Quebec’s schools with CJAD’s Tommy Schnurmacher

January 15, 2016

An important point regarding pension changes in proposed contract

I recently received an email that made an important point about the changes to our pension plan in the proposed contract:

Hello again, Robert

Read your last article “…a hollow victory for unions“.
I think it would have been useful if you had added that the increase in deductions to the teachers pension plan would “consume”, according to my calculations, 72% of any increase proposed by the government (at least for anyone earning more than $54,900). That means, for the 1% increase in salary offered in the agreement, the real increase is only 0.28%. For the 2% increase offered, the real increase would be 0.58%.
With the other increases (CPP, EI, drug plan), the real increases would go further down to real zero or actual reductions in salary. It is understandable that higher absolute values of pensions payments require higher contributions, but most regular folks should be aware of the real numbers before they go to vote for the new agreement.
And you were talking about increases to cover inflation!
January 12, 2016

Quebec’s proposed deal with public sector workers: a hollow victory for unions?

After months of mobilization and negotiation, union leaders are more interested in claiming victory than in actually achieving it

By Robert Green | Published January 5, 2016 by Richochet.media

Prior to the holidays, teachers, parents and students in Quebec received some hopeful news: the Common Front, consisting of unions representing over 400,000 of the province’s half a million public sector workers, had overcome their final hurdle and arrived at an agreement on salaries. The news was filled with stories of satisfied union leaders trumpeting the fact that they had persuaded the government to move from their initial offer of 3 per cent in salary increases over five years to an increase of between 9.15 per cent and 10.25 per cent per year.

It may therefore come as a surprise to readers to learn that many public sector workers are preparing to vote against the deal. Delegates for the federation representing health care workers, which represents nearly one-quarter of the Common Front’s membership, have already voted to reject the deal. The FAE labour federation, which represents 34,000 teachers in the province’s French school boards (but is not a member of the Common Front), is recommending that its members reject a similar deal.

Why are Quebec workers, who have been without a contract since last April, skeptical of the proposed settlement? Because, on closer inspection, the deal on offer is not at all the victory that the Common Front leaders are claiming. Continue reading

January 7, 2016

Discussing the details of the Common Front salary deal for Quebec’s public sector workers

Robert Green discusses the details of the Common Front salary deal with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff:

Click here to download

January 5, 2016

Extracurricular activities are back on at the EMSB following tentative deal

By Katharine Wilton | Published January 5, 2015 by the Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

While union leaders are recommending that teachers ratify the agreement, Robert Green, a teacher at Westmount High School, said he cannot support the deal. Green said he is unhappy that Common Front leaders are including lump-sum payments and adjustments to salary scales when calculating the 9 per cent pay increase.

“When these are removed, the actual salary increase is 5.25 per cent over five years,” Green said. “A lump-sum payment (1.5 per cent) is not a salary increase. The numbers the Common Front is putting out is being presented in a very manipulative way.”

A 2.4 per cent increase that was negotiated as part of a government plan to reduce pay scales for civil servants should not be included in the nine per cent increase, Green contends. “These were separate negotiations,” he said. “The unions are making it seem that the government has come further than it actually has.”

Green said he is also unhappy that there are still not enough resources for students with special needs. “We are left with a status quo that has 25 per cent of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years,” he said.

Read more: http://montrealgazette.com/news/extracurricular-activities-are-back-on-at-the-emsb-following-tentative-deal

December 30, 2015

Sign the petition demanding equal treatment for teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

Petition text:

QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) has let its members down especially the 70% of us who are women. We, the 8000 teachers in the English school boards in Quebec are the only teachers and public sector workers in Quebec without an important equity feature in our contract. The ANNEX XXXV  on family-work reconciliation (or similar letter of understanding) is found in the contracts of the 100,000 francophone school board teachers (FSE and FAE)  and in the contracts of all CEGEP Teachers, nurses, and health care workers – 330,000 Quebec public employees with whom we made up the Common Front. This important recognition asserts that. The bargaining parties encourage the local parties to facilitate the conciliation of parental and family responsibilities with work-related responsibilities, when determining and implementing working conditions.

The members of QPAT, the majority of whom are women balancing work and family responsibilities deserve to have this very 21st Century recognition of their rights and their lives in their contract. It would encourage  management to be more responsive and sensitive to accomodating family needs of teachers with our work conditions.Please sign if you support QPAT teachers (all teachers in the English Public School System in Quebec ) sharing in the rights of the francophon majority and if you support the advancement of women`s rights in the workplace.

To sign the petition click here

To read Katharine Cukier’s open letter to Richard Goldfinch click here

December 19, 2015

An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch about a Glaring Omission in the Contracts of Teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

By Katharine Cukier

Dear Mr. Goldfinch,I am writing as a member of QPAT to express my concerns about our new contract. Many of the women and the young parents at my school share my concerns about the omission of the letter of understanding found in the 2010-2015 contracts of 100,000 teachers of the FSE and FAE that is absent from the QPAT contract.  ANNEX XXXV in the 2010-15 collective agreement of FSE and FAE  asserts  the ”interdependence between work and family’, and makes the recommendation that management endeavours to ”organise work conditions” to allow for a better family-work balance”.

For many of us with family responsibilities, in my case a highly dependent disabled child and my aging father, this understanding would allow for a more humane management culture and an enlightened context for  discussions and arrangements around family-work balance.

I have brought this omission to the attention of Peter Sutherland, and I am hopeful  that the omission of 2010-2015 will be corrected.

It would be helpful to know why we were denied this Annex to begin with. Forgive my feminism, but could it be because the QPAT executive is all male? Perhaps QPAT needs parity. If the the federal cabinet of Canada can do it, surely a small teachers’ union could.

Attached to the contracts (2010-15) of our negotiating partner, FSE (CSQ)  and also to the contracts of the FAE contract,  the annexe XXXV  is as follows:

ANNEXE XXXV LETTRE D’ENTENTE RELATIVE AUX RESPONSABILITÉS FAMILIALES La CSQ (or FAE) d’une part, et le gouvernement du Québec représenté par le Conseil du trésor d’autre part, reconnaissent par la présente, la relation d’interdépendance entre la famille et le travail. En ce sens, les parties favorisent la prise en compte de la dimension de la conciliation famille-travail dans l’organisation du travail. À cet effet, les parties à la présente encouragent les parties sectorielles, régionales ou locales, selon le cas, à une meilleure conciliation des responsabilités parentales et familiales avec celles du travail, dans la détermination des conditions de travail et leur application.

It is not clear to me nor to my colleagues why the 8000 QPAT teachers have been denied this important step towards creating better working conditions for our union members, the majority of whom are women. I hope you will look into this personally and make sure that QPAT teachers have this recognition that 100,000 of our francophone colleagues have.

I will be doing my best to inform the membership of my union about this problem.

Sincerely,

Katharine Cukier

Update: to sign a petition demanding equal treatment for teachers click here

November 22, 2015

CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents

In the Motherhood host Trixie Dumont discusses the Couillard government’s attacks on public education with teachers Fernand Deschamps, Robert Green and Chantal Kers and parent Stacey Dumont.

November 3, 2015

Robert Green speaks with CBC’s Sue Smith about recent developments in negotiations with Quebec’s teachers

(the last 30 seconds of the interview unfortunately get cut off)

October 27, 2015

Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

October 25, 2015

Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.

This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.

As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:

“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”

WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.
Continue reading

October 25, 2015

When it comes to funding education, Quebec’s Liberals govern like sociopaths

By Robert Green | Published Oct 14, 2015 by Ricochet.media

Government appears indifferent to the harm their policies cause to students

As public outrage over the Quebec Liberal government’s attacks on public education has grown, so too has the movement to surround schools in human chains on the first day of each month. Oct. 1 saw this movement not only grow to over 300 schools throughout Quebec, but also include a significant number of schools in the province’s English school boards which were participating for the first time.

The aim of this action was to send a clear message to Premier Philippe Couillard and his cadre: parents, teachers and support staff are united against the government’s attempt to balance its books on the backs of students. Of particular concern are proposals to remove limits on class size and cut a whole range of supports for students with special needs.

While the potent symbolism of community after community uniting to form a human chain in defence of their schools was not enough to persuade the government to change course, it did at least force the minister of education to publicly defend his actions.

His comments were disturbing to say the least. When asked why he would not restore funding for support for students with special needs, Education Minister François Blais stated that given Quebec’s current budget situation, such an investment would be “maladroit.” The minister was essentially saying that to leave in place existing supports for students with special needs would be “awkward” or “clumsy.”

A government of sociopaths?

Blais’ choice of words has left me with a serious question: Is Quebec’s Liberal government a government of sociopaths? Continue reading

October 8, 2015

Robert Green discusses a range of issues facing Quebec’s teachers with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff

Interview from the October 7th edition of CKUT’s The Wednesday morning after.

Click here to download

October 1, 2015

Westmount High’s October 1st Human Chain

Today parents, teachers, support staff, alumni and students formed a human chain outside of Westmount High School to send a message to the Couillard government that the public is united against its irresponsible cuts to education and its proposals to remove limits on class size as well as various forms of support for students with special needs.

Much thanks to the teachers of Westmount Park Elementary for helping to make this event a success! Also thanks to The Montreal Gazette for producing this great video!

September 23, 2015

Montreal teachers’ pressure tactics are taking a toll

Bt Katherine Wilton | Published September 22 by The Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

Teachers are angry that Quebec wants to increase class sizes in high schools and elementary schools and is proposing to no longer consider whether a child has a learning disability when calculating class sizes. A few months before negotiations began in March on a new collective agreement with the province’s teachers, former Education Minister Yves Bolduc told reporters there was no clear link between smaller class sizes and student performance, citing a 2008 Université Laval study. The government also wants to increase the work week from 32 to 35 hours and is offering a three-per cent wage increase over five years.

To read the entire story and view the two videos of WHS teachers explaining why they are taking work action: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-teachers-pressure-tactics-are-taking-a-toll