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My Speech to the OSSTF District 12 AGM, in support of my candidacy for

President and E.O.

(Visit my website at Rob Scott 4 President)
This morning I didnt know which shirt and tie combo to wear. My two and a half
year old daughter picked this outwhen she looked at me and said Daddy I like
this one I had to go with it. I want her to know that I trust her. I remember the first
time as a new teacher I felt that the teachers I worked with really trusted me. I
realized they trusted me because they knew I love teaching. But I dont feel like
many teachers trust our union anymore.
And its because our executive has lost its first love. From the executive officers all
the way up to the president. They have lost their first love. The love of teaching.
Sadly, they have abandoned the love of the classroom for the love of politics. How
else do you explain being inside the Liberal Leadership convention, while classroom
teachers are outside, protesting for our rights and for education?
They love politics....and minor league politics at that.
They thought a $10 000 donation to Kathleen Wynnes leadership campaign would
buy us some influence. But corporate law firms, boasting in excess of 1500 lawyers
give every one of their lawyers the legal maximum, $1330, to donate to the Liberal
party, totalling nearly $2 million while being effectively an invisible donation.
And those law firms, represent corporate interests that need the austerity agenda to
grow and become entrenched.
So who bought influence? Well, since being elected what has Kathleen Wynne done
for us? By any measurement our return on that investment has been remarkably
low. But tonight the executives incumbents will tell you they stand for strong,
decisive and effective political action.
And then theres the trustees.
Our leaderships vision is to give money and teacher canvassers to trustees they
think will be friendly.
They even have a cute name for it. Ten Dollars for a Better Board expecting
teachers to donate $10 to this effort.
But trustees are minor league politicians with major league aspirations. Not many
really want to be career trustees. Here is a list Josh Matlow, now a city councillor,
Su Wong, now an MPP, Shaun Chen, now an MP, Kathleen Wynne, Olivia Chow and
even, Mike Harris. Mr. Harris lost his love for teaching too.
Thats why the trustees we elect often dont vote according to our interests.

The D12 executive claims we were successful in electing a very good slate of
trustees in the last election, but by the executives own admission, those trustees
are reluctant to get involved in negotiations...so is it really $10 for a better board?
And how much is it for a better contract?
In addition to phrases like strong political action you will hear a great deal of
boasting about experience tonight.
Listening to our executive talk about experience, is a little like listening to the
Captain of the Titanic speak about all the great voyages of the past, but failing to
mention the ice berg. Sadly we have experienced a decade of ice bergs, and
theres no end in sight.
The executive likes to claim responsibility for raises that were negotiated
provincially, or using the province wide strategy of allowing cash rich boards to
negotiate first and then just asking for the same
The executive doesnt mention years of experience at failing to ignite member
engagement. Thats the experience we need to be talking about tonight.
But their love is elsewhere.
They will tell you its their experience that protects members when in fact its their
abilty to read the collective bargaining agreement. They will tell you its their
experience that is required in this round of negotiations, but wont acknowledge
that this strike is failing. They will tell you that their experience has defended the
best on-call language in the province, but they wont tell you they have been
powerless to do anything about our district having the worst benefits in the
All that experience and they still cant communicate with us unless theres an
election approaching.
I have a double major Honours Degree in Mass Communications and Linguistics. I
have led corporate workshops in leadership and communication and whenever I
have asked the executive about improving our communications they cut me off and
tell me that Facebook, or a media campaign isnt the answer. They assumed I was
talking about the medium. But I have been talking more about the message than
the medium.
The messages we receive are condescending, inflammatory and filled with
bragging. Anytime a member comes forward to express an idea to a leader, what
that member is most significantly expressing is the desire to be engaged and a
desire to help make things better. In that moment, when a member is trying to
become engaged, they cannot be shouted at, or dismissed as ignorant, eyes cannot
be rolled, heads cannot be shaken, and answers cannot be dismissive or
Lets hope that, that experience will soon be history.

We need a president whose first love is the classroom.

I will empower the voice of the classroom teacher. Mute buttons are for televisions.
We are experts in science, math, economics, history, the arts, the environment,
technology among others and to not listen to us is foolish.
I will be in the schools. Often. Its leadership by wandering around. There is no
reason I cant grab a laptop, a cell phone and have an office anywhere, even in your
staffroom for a day or two. Meeting with members, listening to members,
understanding members and their love of the classroom. You and your colleagues
will know what I look like.
Regular communication with members is the hallmark of a leadership that maintains
its first love. And I believe that task should be shared with the membership. I will
train a group of volunteer ambassadors, they could visit schools taking our message
to the members and bringing the members messages back to us. This would have
been a great tool this year when the strike was launched in November. We could
have had a representative in every school in a matter of weeks.
Getting to the D12 office is a barrier to engagement for many members. Our
meetings can take place anywhere in the city, or online for that matter, or both.
When the members cannot get to the union, take the union to them.
As a member of the Collective Bargaining Committee we have had one meeting in
12 months. And our requests for a more detailed bargaining survey, better
communication to the membership and a detailed outline of the costs of our
bargaining priorities were ignored.
Committees cannot be told that their opinion doesnt matter.
When members and committees have a voice in the union, Political Action and
Collective Bargaining will look different and reflect a love for the classroom.
I will take my direction from teachers. For example with collective bargaining, every
branch should have a bargaining liaison, that person would receive regular and
detailed updates from the bargaining team and would send his or her memberships
feedback to the negotiating table. We would invite members to be part of the table
team, so that there is transparency built in to the process. When you love the
classroom, you share power with teachers.
And when you love education, you protect teachers. While membership protection
through vigorous defence of the collective bargaining agreement is a given for a
union, it represents just barely doing your job. I believe protecting teachers is more
than that.
This union has never had a real discussion about the mental health of educators.
When my partner and I first started dating she said teachers take a tonne of stress
and mental health leave and I said we drink a lot too. She knew. But we have

never talked about the mental health crisis that exists in education. And its a
tragedy. Literally, I lost a colleague and very good friend to suicide a couple of
years ago, because she felt like she had to come back before she was ready. And
when bills need to be paid, and your struggling with your thoughts, and you dont
know where to turn, tragedy happens. We need to ensure that every member has
the knowledge to access leave when he or she needs to. We need to ensure that
members are educated to recognize early signs of stress and mental health issues
and can act before they become overwhelmed. We need to have a conversation
about what you can do when you see a colleague in distress. We need to work with
outside groups like Teachers life, CAMH and Provincial OSSTFs Ed-Services, who
actually offer free PD regarding mental health and stress. And we need to find
creative ways to support newer teachers who bear an unfair burden of this stress.
Fifteen years. And the Mental Health crisis of educators has never been discussed
in D12. I guess thats what happens when you lose your first love.
I love teaching. And like you, I have struggled with the direction of D12 over the
past decade. And frankly I am tired of their excuses when the membership brings
up concerns.
You have to stop blaming the membership for not being engaged; its your job to
engage us.
You have to stop blaming the board for not negotiating; its your job to get them to
the table.
You have to stop blaming other districts in the province for hating Toronto; its your
job to build those relationships.
You have to stop blaming the media for not understanding; its your job to ensure
they understand.
You have to stop blaming the economy for failed contracts; its your job to overcome
I am ready for this job.
Leaders lead.
They dont make excuses. We have to start making this better. Your vote matters.
D12 needs to find its first love again. And it needs to start with the Presidential and
Vice-Presidential positions. Next week your vote can change this union. I ask you
to vote for me, Rob Scott, for President of D12.
Rob Scott
May 19, 2016