Good Monday to you County.
For those of you so inclined, I hope you had a wonderful Father’s day.
This is my last Check-In for this year, and it a somewhat bittersweet moment for me. Certainly, when I was chosen to be your local President last year, I could not have predicted the path that we would find ourselves following from September to now. It has been a year of both triumph and heartbreak in that we came together as never before as teachers, but in the end, were unable to impact all the changes that so many of us wanted to see.
As I look back over this first year of sitting in this office, I can’t help but be struck by all that we did accomplish. True, we were unable to win the major political victory that we had perhaps been looking for, but for the first time, in my memory at least, educational issues were brought to the forefront by frontline educators. Not by journalists, not by politicians, not by quasi-experts of questionable repute, but by those of us in the system who recognize the need for change. This was a time of tremendous strength, and also a time of great camaraderie and unity when we focussed on a common goal. We may not have gotten all the changes that we wanted, but I would argue that, in many ways, we have changed the landscape in which we operate to a fairly significant extent.
It was also a time of pretty significant reflection on the way we do business as a union. As we worked our way through this year’s job action, it became quite clear that some of our policies and protocol were not up to the task. This came into such clear focus that the provincial NSTU has opted to abandon their annual Leadership conference for this year. Instead, a mid-August conference will see your local leadership gather to discuss four main issues from the job action, including contract negotiations, job action, PA/PR and policy and operating procedures. The hope, as I understand it, is to have a close look at what was done well, what was done poorly, and what needs to improve on a go-forward basis.
Only time will tell what impact this effort will have on the system as a whole. In my opinion, our new-found activism, coupled with the experiences of the past months and our allegiance with other bargaining units, will only serve to strengthen us as we move forward towards our next round of negotiations.
On a rather personal note, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of your local executive this year. Many extra hours were logged by this dedicated group of volunteers, and they proved themselves beyond capable of handling any task that came before them. As well, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the reps at your schools. They certainly did not sign on for all that they were eventually asked to do. Finally, I would like to thank the general membership. You were asked to make some tough decisions and suffer through some very challenging conditions, yet when you were called upon to go above and beyond, you did so in droves, with awe-inspiring passion. You are where our true strength lies.
This has, indeed, been a year for the ages. I wish you well as you wrap up during the next two weeks, and sincerely hope that you have some time to relax and regroup over these short summer months.
I am in the office until next Friday, after which I will be available via e-mail and cell all summer long.
See you in September.