White union members votes devalued to appease minorities — Analysis

A teachers’ union in Canada decided that the votes of its indigenous, black and racialized members will have extra weight in decision-making processes if not enough minority delegates are present on the board.

Since the start of the school year, the so-called weighted voting has been in effect at a local bargaining unit of the larger Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in Halton Region, Ontario the National Post reported. 

The unit, which represents some 1,400 teachers and school staff, voted in the controversial system – said to be aimed at improving the representation of minorities – this June. 68% of the delegated at its annual general meetings supported it.

New system guarantees that 50% of votes will go to indigenous, black and racialized members, regardless of how many are attending board meetings.

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It means that if 20 people are voting, five minority delegates would have the same weight as 15 others that don’t consider themselves to be racialized.

When there’s parity between the groups and 50% of non-white members are present, the vote goes on as normal. 

“I do believe it’s a very positive step for equity,”Daryl LeBlanc was a teacher and branch leader with the union. He spoke to the newspaper about the new measure.

The union’s materials on weighted voting distributed among the members last month insisted that despite the idea of one person having one vote seeming just, “fair doesn’t necessarily mean equitable.”

“Equal opportunity to participate in the Federation does not mean treating all members the same,”The documents are listed. “Within a democratic framework, promoting the engagement of members of equity-seeking groups is a valid and necessary approach to reaching equal outcomes.”

“Black, racialized and Indigenous members do not feel safe or welcome at Union activities”The National Post suggested that something be done.

The changes were opposed by many members who called them discriminatory. Concerns were also reportedly voiced by delegates that it could violate Ontario’s human rights code.

“If your school rep is racialized, then you get a higher percentage of the vote,”However, the anonymous teacher pointed out.

Caitlin Clark was asked by National Post to respond. She is the spokesperson for Stephen Lecce (Ontario Education Minister). “teacher unions have once again missed the mark.”

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