The soul of our schools – Sector 3 newsletter

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Message from President:

Education workers are the soul of our schools. We know everything you do for our children and for the public education system and we thank you for your effort and sacrifice.

OPSEU/SEFPO is committed to supporting our members in education and we are bringing your concerns to the highest levels of government every day.  Some members may want the union to protest and to speak out against the government in the media every day. We hear you, and we understand your perspective. That’s why it’s important that we provide some background about how the pandemic has changed our working relationship with the current government.

Since the start of the pandemic we’ve shown leadership, and we’re getting results across the board. We believe in leading by example and we’ve stepped up. For example, we recently increased the number of paid sick days to our staff internally and we started to see other employers follow our lead within days. We also changed our approach in dealing with the current government and employers. We’re in unprecedented, and extremely challenging, times. And in tough times like this, we must work collaboratively to ensure that each and every member remains safe, healthy and informed.

Our members need our full support. As the chaos of COVID-19 has unraveled, our goal has been to lead our members in a calm and collected fashion. Many of our traditional methods for engaging with members and the public – like public meetings, pickets, rallies and lobby days – are no longer safe.

As the world shifted in March 2020, we too shifted our approach in an effort to make positive change by working directly with those in power at Queen’s Park. I can assure you, our strategy has been working.

When education facilities were fully shuttered from March to September 2020, OPSEU/SEFPO had the opportunity to fine-tune our new approach and to strengthen our connections with the decision makers. At the same time, we formed numerous regional triage teams, which were a huge success in addressing member and sectoral concerns, including access to proper PPE, reduced pay and layoffs.

After discussions were held in August 2020 with your local elected and sector leadership, the Education Sector regional and central triage teams were formed. Under the committed leadership of your elected executive and specialized OPSEU/SEFPO staff, your concerns continue to be communicated directly to the Ministry as part of our efforts to find resolutions or determine if other action is required.

OPSEU/SEFPO is also dedicated to raising public awareness about the work you do, the students you support, and the workplace issues you face.

That’s why we will continue to run campaigns, communicate with the Premier and Ministers, and publish member-focused communications that address the priority issues you identify to your local presidents and/or staff representatives.

As part of our commitment to provide the resources and support your sector executive and locals presidents need to assist you, the weekly and biweekly elected leadership team meetings will remain ongoing. The team is dedicated to resolving issues brought forward by our education workers.

On that note, we’d like to extend a warm thanks to our elected local and sector executive for their ongoing dedication and leadership. They’ve spent countless hours ensuring that your work environment is as safe as possible, despite the challenges they’ve faced.

Our union has, and will continue to work hard on your behalf – often behind-the-scenes – to raise your concerns with those in power and to ensure they are addressed quickly and properly.

Please continue to monitor your emails for updates or visit https://sefpo.org/sector/boards-of-education-and-cultural-institutions/  for sector updates and news.

In Solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas

OPSEU/SEFPO President

Message from your Chair:

This has been an unprecedented year. Everyone’s been very busy maneuvering through and adapting to the challenges created by the pandemic. I’m very proud of the work the sector executive has accomplished. This would not have been possible without their dedication. I’m also very proud of our members and would like to thank them, as they are the backbone and unsung heroes of our sector. They have worked tirelessly through the challenges presented by this pandemic.

I’ve been really busy working hard on behalf of the members to advocate by attending several committee meetings and ministry calls. I participate on several steering committees. These committees consist of representation of all education affiliates. They include the Provincial Working Group of Health and Safety, and its subcommittees. The focus of these committees are to address the distribution of PPE, cleaning products and the importance of vaccinations for all education workers. Other subcommittees include Evaluation (workplace violence in schools), and Environmental (ventilation and aerosol sprays within buildings). The Instructional Support Working Group was established due to Covid-19.

In Solidarity,

Sandra Cadeau

Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO Sector 3 Boards of Education

Sector’s year in review:

The sector appreciates the guidance and support President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has provided. A special thank you is extended to the staff who have helped in the delivery of the sector’s plans and goals.

The sector executive has been busy advocating on behalf of members. The form of advocating has been evolving due to the current pandemic.

We’d like to share with you the activities the sector has engaged in during this pandemic. 

Sector Goals 2019- 2021

Goal Accomplished
Local / Member Engagement
  • TRIAGE – August 2020- Present
  • Increased Communication to members
Identify and Address concerns related to Covid-19
  • Ministry Calls- April 2020 – Present
  • Letter written to the Premier and Ministers
  • Premier Doug Ford
  • Minister Stephen Lecce
  • Minister Todd Smith
Anti-Bullying Campaign
  • December 2020 – February 2021 Bee the Change T-Shirts
  • Social Media Broadcast
Rebranding Sector 3 Boards of Education
  • Developed a new logo, and mission statements
Awareness of the Education Workers’ Role
  • Campaign : February 2021 – Present
  • Showcasing Education Worker stories
  • Podcast – February 25, 2021 Featuring Smokey Thomas, Sandra Cadeau, Bonnie Eddy
Sector Specific Meetings
  • February 2021 – Present
  • Campaigns, timeline and action plan
Educationals
  • Political Action Training
  • May 31 – June 1, 2021
  • Fall 2021 (TBD)
  • Mental Health First Aid Training Fall 2021 (TBD)
Organizing other Locals
  • February 2021 – Present
  • Welcomed new locals to OPSEU/SEFPO Continue to expand organizing efforts

Welcome New Members

On behalf of the Sector 3 Executive, we would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest local, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

On April 1, 2021 the members voted 100 per cent in support of joining OPSEU/SEFPO.

The roughly 50 new members work at the well-known gallery, which is part of the Harbourfront Centre – as Gallery Attendants and Assistants, Art Installers, Art Technicians, Assistant Curators, Major Events Coordinators, Grants and Sponsorship Officers, Marketing and Communications Outreach Assistants, and Programs Assistants.

Dues

Just a reminder to keep an eye out for the sector dues invoice. Your dues help to cover the costs of promoting the sector and the important work we do in our teaching and learning environments. The invoice/reminder will be sent to you from Sector 3 Treasurer, Donna Caissie.