Our letter to OSSTF Presidents/Executive

Dear District/Bargaining Unit Presidents / Members of the Provincial Executive,

It has been an eventful year for climate action worldwide and we are very excited to be a part of such a vital movement. Last year we submitted motions to AMPA related to the divestment of fossil fuels from pensions and our own internal investments. Out of that came a push to address climate change in a more meaningful way by our Union. We are grateful for the work of the Environmental Advisory Work Group (EAWG) who took on the task assigned by the MAC431-15 Work Group. There are many progressive and multi-faceted climate action motions that are coming to AMPA through its work – we hope they are supported!

The ECA believes that the Labour Movement is critical to the Climate Movement. This year we have seen an explosion in awareness among union leaders. We are becoming aware of the intersection of labour rights with indigenous rights, women’s rights, minority rights and others.  All of our struggles are indeed related and we will all be stronger working together. So many of the climate solutions are also solutions to equality, racism and reconciliation with First Nations. (Watch Tim DeChristopher explain in this inspiring speech.) Just look at the LEAP Manifesto – which OSSTF has signed – for an idea of the fundamental values behind a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Again, at this year’s AMPA, we have submitted motions through District 27 CPAC and District 27 Executive to divest from fossil fuels. The divestment movement is an important one in the climate fight because it attacks the morality of the fossil fuel industry – an industry which, if it continues, translates into disastrous consequences for human life support systems.

The Educators’ Climate Alliance feels that educators need to have an honest discussion about fossil fuel investments. It seems counterproductive to rely on investments for future financial returns that ensure the devastation of the future for our children.

At AMPA, we hope that you consider our motions which are listed below. We hope that they generate discussion and interest. Our politicians at every level (union, municipal, provincial, federal) need to know that we are behind them to take bold action. We think these motions complement the EAWG motions, which do not address divestment specifically.

In the coming days, we will post the motions with rationale on our Educators Climate Alliance blog which you can follow if you’d like to receive all our posts. Consider liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter: @EdClimate.

Check out some of our blog posts:

Will divestment put my pension at risk?

Why divestment if, arguably, it won’t hurt fossil fuel companies?

Keep it in the ground: why this is a matter of basic ethics

The Climate Change Opportunity [for Unions] 

Unions, Trade Deals, Climate and Democracy

CCPA makes the economic case for divestment

With respect and hope,

Educators’ Climate Alliance (Adam Davidson-Harden – District 27, William MacCallum – District 15, Justin Boyd – District 15, Anik Hahn – District 26, Kevin Bowers – District 27, Simon Baron – District 27, Andrea Loken – District 27, David Mathers – District 27, Joan Jardin – District 27)

MAC 227-16

BE IT RESOLVED THAT AMPA direct the Provincial Executive and the OTF Governors to request the OTPP and OMERS Board of Directors to direct asset managers to stop any new investment in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 2 years, as determined by the ‘Carbon Underground 200’.

PEN 203-16

BE IT RESOLVED THAT Policy 10.7 be amended by the addition of a new subsection that reads:

“It is the policy of OSSTF that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) should not invest in fossil fuel companies. Specifically, the OTPP and OMERS should stop any new investments in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds as determined by the ‘Carbon Underground 200’ and should promote divestment until it is achieved.”

BYL 245-16

BE IT RESOLVED THAT Bylaw 9.5.2 be amended by the insertion of a new subsection that reads:

“No part of the Internal Investment Fund shall be invested in fossil fuel companies. Specifically, the Internal Investment Fund should strive to divest from fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 2 years as determined by ‘The Carbon Underground 200’.”

MAC 224-16

BE IT RESOLVED THAT OSSTF communicate to the Federal Government and the public that OSSTF opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and state unequivocally that the Canadian Government should not be signatories to the TPP and/or should not ratify the TPP.

MAC 226-16

Cost Estimate: $10,000

BE IT RESOLVED THAT AMPA establish a work group that will investigate ways to support the education and community needs of refugees in Ontario.

The work group will be composed of the following: a) three bargaining unit presidents/leaders, with an interest in human rights, as selected by the Provincial Executive from applications; b) one Provincial CPAC member; c) one Provincial Executive member, assigned by the President; d) the Secretariat Liaisons assigned to CPAC.

The Work Group will report to Provincial Council, as appropriate, and submit an interim report with recommendations to AMPA 2017 and a final report with recommendations to AMPA 2018.

 

A Plethora of Climate Actions in November – Get involved!

May10-14 DefendOurClimate crowd

The whole globe is mobilizing! There are so many actions planned as we approach the December UN Climate Summit in Paris, we thought we would compile them here.

We are living in extraordinary times and people are quickly waking up to the climate crisis knowing we are running out of time to make decisions. Canada is has a new opportunity to change course with a new Prime Minister at the helm. Canadian Labour is getting on board realizing that the climate issue is OUR issue. Here are a few of the bigger actions taking place in November. Many of these actions are very accessible, designed to help community or small groups to be a part of a larger global action. Get involved!

November 5 – 8: Climate Welcome – Ottawa Action

“a series of serious, but gentle, civil disobedience actions starting November 5th to welcome Justin Trudeau to office and call on him to get to work on real climate action”

http://climatewelcome.ca/

November 29: People’s Global Climate March: 100% Possible

“On the eve of the Paris Climate Summit, let’s show our new government that a 100% clean economy is 100% possible.”

The main event is in Ottawa: http://www.100possible.ca/

Other events are planned world-wide, including Kingston: https://www.facebook.com/events/1502440906747485/

November 30: Climate Strike – Global Student Action

“The adult generations have promised to stop the climate crisis, but they have skipped their homework year after year. Climate strike is a wake-up call to our own generation. And it is the start of a network that will solve the greatest challenge in human history. Together. We need your hands and hearts and smarts!”

http://climatestrike.net/

November 30 – December 12: Climate Games – Global

“The world’s largest Disobedient Action Adventure Game

It’s December 2015. You have a heart filled with courage, a mobile phone and plans for creative mischief. Your team is ready to merge street and online disobedience. The COP21 UN climate summit is just opening in Paris. Manifestations of ‘the Mesh’ — austerity-dictating politicians, fossil fuel corporations, industry lobbyists, peddlers of false solutions and greenwashers – are converging to solve the climate catastrophe. Or so they tell us.

We are not convinced.

Your objective is to join the global movements swarming to shift the game against profit and in favour of life.

The Climate Games are where action-adventure meets actual change. Anyone can play this real-time, real-world game and turn Paris and the world into a giant, direct action playing field for climate justice. We have everything to play for – but time is running out.”

https://www.climategames.net/en/home

The Climate Change Opportunity [for unions]

by Kevin Bowers, teacher, OSSTF Limestone District 27, and ECA co-founder

PR machines, industry, media, and governments have successfully branded unions and their ‘bosses’ as disruptive and greedy. Climate change offers unions a tremendous opportunity to rebrand and reinvigorate.  There is a hunger for an economic vision that protects the planet and simultaneously supports social equality and good jobs. Unions need to articulate and build this optimistic future and thus define ourselves as leaders in the fight against the forces of disruption and greed.  Unions should call out the industries, media and governments that support the carbon economy and articulate how they are undermining our collective security and prosperity. Simultaneously we need to celebrate and champion the solutions to the climate crisis.  The plentiful, high paying, community centered, democratic jobs of the green economy are not only the solution to the climate crisis but also an opportunity for us to brand unions as the optimistic architects of a prosperous and sustainable future.

[See what the International Trade Union Confederation has to say about this here.]

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p.s. Please consider sharing our blog/posts and petition on your social media platform or share with friends and colleagues via email. If we are to affect change as quickly as is necessary, we really need everyone to become involved. All of us have a stake in our pensions and care about a planet that is livable in the future. The urgency is only going to become more and more apparent. No one is coming to save us. The power is within ourselves – each individual – to change the current system. We hope you can join the growing chorus!

Why divestment if, arguably, it won’t hurt fossil fuel companies?

by Andrea Loken, science Teacher and ECA co-founder

It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Divestment is working – for what we want to achieve.

Divestment is not about hurting the fossil fuel companies in the short term. It may be true that within our current economic model, to sell off stocks in fossil fuel companies just means that someone else will buy them, causing no net harm and the industry will chug along.

Divestment is about exposing fossil fuel companies and the elites who run them as morally reprehensible; it is about choosing alternative, sustainable energy sources; and it is about creating a new model for our economic system that works for more than just the 1%.

On the first point: In one of the articles in the grounding breaking series about climate change published by the Guardian newspaper, an excellent analogy was made to slavery. Slavery was and is profitable. But as society has shifted its ideas, slavery is now considered by most to be an offensive practice. The human suffering and cost is simply not acceptable. Fossil fuel companies should be seen in this way. They should not be allowed to operate, let alone profit, at the cost of wrecking our life support systems.

Secondly, we already know how to produce energy sustainably. A new energy grid could be de-centralized, diverse and reliable. We can also become massively more efficient with local consumption and co-generation of energy. Communities around the world are already doing this. In addition, we need to stop viewing the planet as our smorgasbord – gluttonously consuming everything we can and treating the earth as our trash can. This mentality is fruitfully broken down by the good folks at the Story of Stuff Project.

Thirdly, as mentioned in our last post, our economic system isn’t working. It has worked wonderfully in the last 30 years to transfer wealth from the public sphere to a few elite. No one organism is more entitled to the earth’s resources than any other. But somehow we have become conditioned to believe that a certain amount of greed is okay; some people must work harder than others and therefore must deserve more. Here is an article (and the abridged version), written by a member of this super-elite who explains the folly in this type of thinking.

The same forces that have decimated indigenous people all over the world, have oppressed minorities of every kind, and fostered violence against women, are now attacking labour. The point is to divide and conquer – to have us fighting each other rather than working together to reject the corporate enslavement and build a better model. “Another world is possible,” is a common chant of youth at climate rallies and other protests all around the world. Make no mistake; we WILL build a better world and it may need to break the current system first. As climate activist, Tim DeChristopher, puts it in this speech, “maybe we are trying to ruin the economy.” We want nothing less than a world where everyone can thrive and prosper. It is entirely possible. Watch this profoundly moving video by spoken word artist Shane Koyczan. “We can do this.”

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p.s. Please consider sharing our blog/posts and petition on your social media platform or share with friends and colleagues via email. If we are to affect change as quickly as is necessary, we really need everyone to become involved. All of us have a stake in our pensions and care about a planet that is livable in the future. The urgency is only going to become more and more apparent. No one is coming to save us. The power is within ourselves – each individual – to change the current system. We hope you can join the growing chorus!

[Video] What is fossil fuel divestment and why does it matter?

Excellent 2.5 min video – http://gu.com/p/46zqd/stw

“Unless there is political pressure to change, nothing will change.”

Educators Climate Alliance couldn’t agree more. Real political pressure comes from gutsy acts that show we are willing to ‘put our money where our mouth is.’ That is why the ECA is urging bold action such as disinvestment – so that we educators can say honestly that we INVEST in kids’ futures.

* * * * *

p.s. Please consider sharing our blog/posts and petition on your social media platform or share with friends and colleagues via email. If we are to affect change as quickly as is necessary, we really need everyone to become involved. All of us have a stake in our pensions and care about a planet that is livable in the future. The urgency is only going to become more and more apparent. No one is coming to save us. The power is within ourselves – each individual – to change the current system. We hope you can join the growing chorus!

Everything you wanted to ask about the Guardian’s #keepitintheground divestment campaign

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/16/everything-you-wanted-to-ask-about-the-guardians-climate-change-campaign?CMP=share_btn_tw

The Educators Climate Alliance is calling on Ontario Educators to be leaders on climate action, too!

We hope you have joined 100,000+ to sign the Guardian’s petition. Please sign ours too! [here]