Richmond Hill teacher Susan Beattie will not let her union “illegally dictate” whether she can volunteer for extra ciriculars any longer. Below is her letter.

Open letter to David Clegg, ETFO-YR President:

Here are my reflections following the Feb. 26 union meeting and your March 1 conversation with Matt Galloway on the Metro Morning radio show.You suggest the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation decision to lift the advisory on voluntary activities was “politically motivated”. Is the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario’s decision to maintain the advisory not politically motivated?

You explain ETFO’s decision by suggesting the union wants to bargain an acceptable deal for the next school year. But if the contract were re-opened, would ETFO propose an increase in class sizes to meet the budget requirements?

You hope to defeat the Liberals in the next election. But what will you do if we find ourselves with a Conservative government under Tim Hudak?These are concerns for many teachers.

Last fall you said “[teachers) want to know leadership is leading them”. Now you claim ETFO’s decision is not being “directed by union bosses”, but is the “grassroots” consensus of “well-educated” teachers.

If anyone thinks that the decisions of ETFO members are not driven by union leaders, they are mistaken. In fact, you are actively working to create a group of stewards who will obey instructions without question, and who will in turn demand compliance from their colleagues. Stewards who do not conform are asked to step down, as I did.

I have learned from experience that raising concerns about the actions of our union executive is greeted with hostility and disrespect.

You claim that teachers want their “voices heard”, but sadly, the only voices that are welcomed in our organization are the ones that concur with the leadership.

Toronto Star’s Martin Cohn (March 3) wrote, “Public school teachers have allowed their union to bamboozle (if not bully) them into … a withdrawal of services during the school day.” He referred to “despair within the labour movement over ETFO’s self-righteous, self-defeating tactics”.

I’ve had enough. You cannot compel me or any other member to withdraw from voluntary activities. I will attend monthly staff meetings. I will run my choir. I will plan field trips. I will attend meetings outside the instructional day, if I so choose. And I will not allow you or other executive officers to diminish or dismiss me.

You have spent most of your career in the union. I am deeply concerned that, along the way, you have forgotten that teachers do not work for you — you work for us!

Susan Beattie
Richmond Hill

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