Menno Vorster was a Toronto inner-city teacher who rose to become the Toronto Teacher Federation (TTF) president in the mid-1970s. He explains the unique structure of the Toronto local which originally included the Ontario Public School Men Teachers’ Federation (OPSMTF), the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO), and eventually l’Association des enseignantes et enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO).
Menno speaks with the voice of an activist who stands solidly on the left. While sympathetic to the position of principals, who were also his members, he expresses strong opinions about the “very conservative…principal-dominated” OPSMTF, of which he was required to be member. Upon becoming TTF president, he set about reorganizing the local to represent classroom teachers, become a voice in the schools, and prepare for collective bargaining, which had become available to teachers with the passage of Bill 100 in 1975. He led the campaign to protect teachers’ jobs as declining enrolment became an issue during the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, prioritizing protecting programs by allying with parents and other unions.