I was really hoping to take a year off from MTA elections. Though I knew Mr. Sutherland was firmly entrenched in the small clique that’s been running the MTA for years, I hoped that the MTA might become different under his leadership. At least different enough to justify taking a year off. And while in some ways he is certainly an improvement over his predecessor, there is still far too much that remains of the old MTA and its undemocratic and ineffective ways. Teachers need an alternative.
The first sign that little would change with Sutherland at the helm of the MTA came at the beginning of the very first reps assembly. Here was an opportunity to set a new tone and the very first thing Mr. Sutherland did was to launch a very personal attack on an individual member known for her dissenting views within the union. The attack involved a misrepresentation of why this member’s complaint against the MTA at the labour relations commission had been rejected. As I wrote in my blogpost “Setting the Record Straight About the Complaint Against the MTA at the Labour Relations Commission“:
Although reporting such an event to the members is entirely appropriate, it should be noted that the MTA leadership has a history of reporting events involving the Labour Relations Commission only when it suites their political interests. Rulings against the MTA, or members being paid-off in out-of-court settlements are often not reported to the membership.
It should also be noted that the member in question, Cecile Doucet-Greene, was identified by Sutherland in his presentation of the matter and had been provided no prior notice whatsoever that her case would be the subject of discussion. Given that the reps assembly agenda is set several days in advance, Sutherland and the other members of the executive had all the time in the world to notify Ms Doucet-Greene of the fact that her case would be discussed. Had this simply been about informing the members in good faith, such notice would have been provided. The fact that it wasn’t illustrates that this was an ambush, made in bad faith to score cheap political points.
It’s fine for the MTA’s leadership to disagree with elected members of the reps assembly, but playing these sorts of vindictive games is just petty. It renders the tone of the MTA’s meetings so toxic that well intentioned members don’t want to even attend let alone participate in discussions. Mr Sutherland had an opportunity to change the union’s partisan institutional culture. He has instead chosen to doubled-down in perpetuating the old culture which valued loyalty and loyalty only.
We need an MTA where debate is valued and participation is welcomed. We have so much talent, energy and intelligence amongst our members that could be mobilized to make our union stronger. Instead it is squandered by a leadership that seems to have no real interest in actually empowering the membership.
I believe that the MTA can actually be a force in transforming the lives of its members for the better. It’s ability to do so however is directly tied to its ability to empower its members. If elected my first priority will be to create the kind of MTA where members feel empowered to participate and make the union their own.
To learn more about my candidacy check my campaign website http://rgreen.freeshell.org. If the program I am proposing looks like the kind of change you would like to see in your union please help spread the word by talking to your colleagues, printing articles to leave in your staff room or sharing articles on social media. Most importantly be sure to vote on Wednesday May 21st. Change cannot happen on its own. We the members need to make it happen!