Sometimes I find it hard to tell people what I think, especially if the discussion isn't a comfortable one. Using an open letter maybe isn’t as good as multiple face-to-face conversations, but writing does have its merits. There are two things I want to talk about: voluntary participation in the grade eight parent night, and the rally outside of the Liberal leadership convention in Toronto yesterday.
So first is the grade eight parent night. For those teachers, and especially department heads, who chose not to volunteer their time for what is obviously not a required part of the job: THANK YOU. It really means a lot to me that you chose to stand in solidarity with your fellow teachers and send a signal to everyone that you will not back down when our collective bargaining rights are suspended. I know you care about your programs and would rather participate in the information evening and connect with parents, and I know it wasn’t easy to resist pressure from administration to be there. Thank you for not breaking solidarity. For those teachers who did attend the grade 8 night: I don’t understand what you were thinking. I don’t think that participation is a necessary part of the job, and I think that breaking solidarity with your colleagues is short-sighted, selfish, and counter-productive. Sure, it feels good to sell our programs to parents and help administration put on a good show, and it’s easier to cave in to pressure from your boss than to resist, but what’s more important is taking a stand in solidarity with your colleagues. On the other hand, please don’t take my criticism too harshly. I will continue to support all members even if they break solidarity, and I’m more interested in building future solidarity than dwelling on past disagreements. I want to work together, rather than start to let disagreements divide our membership - but I can’t help but speak up when something is bothering me.
Next is the rally at the Liberal leadership convention in Toronto on January 26th. To those who gave up an entire Saturday to go to Toronto and back to participate in a massive protest in support of collective bargaining rights: THANK YOU! I can’t describe the feeling I had when I was surrounded by over 30,000 people demonstrating for workers’ rights. To those who didn’t come: why didn’t you? We had a great time! It was fun! Sure, we sat on a bus twice as long as we spent in Toronto demonstrating, but we had a good time! I got to meet a lot of people, have a lot of laughs, and I spent a few hours on a wonderful winter day in a park in downtown Toronto surrounded by union supporters (and, I even managed to mark a bunch of exams on the bus!). It was awesome. I know it’s hard to give up a weekend day during exams, and I know we all have reasons not to go, but I really missed many of my colleagues. I wish you were there on the bus with me. Like the last paragraph, I don’t want people to feel that I’m upset with them for not coming - sure I’m a bit disappointed, but I really just want to let you know that you were missed. It would have been better if you could have found the time to demonstrate with us.
That’s all I have to say for today! For those of you who went to the grade eight night, and/or decided to stay home instead of come out to protest with your fellow workers, I really hope you think about what effect your decisions have on the rest of us. It’s hard to keep up the fight for our rights when so many of us seem to want to do little more than sit on the sidelines. I need your support to continue to fight for our right to a negotiated contract, and I ask that you think hard about your decisions in the future.