One Man’s opinion on the BC Teachers Strike…
I might be biased on this subject as my wife is a BC Teacher; but I see every day the extra time, work and effort that she does for her students & class. Not to mention the extra money that she spends on supplies, crafts and events so that those kids will have a fun learning environment. The late nights getting project supplies ready for the next day. I myself have helped scan documents, or cut string lengths or drawing backdrops for class plays on the weekend DURING this strike; so that she might get done sooner and have some time with her OWN kids. I have seen her staying up late creating a newsletter for parents every week DURING the strike to keep them up to date. She has written more progress reports on the kids than any parent would see normally if report cards were still in effect. So your little Dick or Jane did not get a letter grade, so what? You still know where they need help and where they are excelling, more so than if you waited for the report card at which time it is too late to get their butts in gear. If you are a parent that cares how your kid is doing in school you will be talking to their teacher. If you’re a lazy parent you will just wait for a report card to show up. Saying that my wife is upset and stressed with the current state of teaching in BC would be an understatement. And trust me, it has not been long since I was in school, (I’m not that freaking old) but even I can’t agree with all the policies that are implemented by the local school district. So trust me when I say I have some issues with how kids are being taught even though my wife is a teacher. Back in my day your kid could be held back a grade. Today that is too socially/emotionally scarring. How about the scars caused by your kid not able to read, write or have basic math skills because the system pushed them along with their peers? But I digress…
Sure many of you readers would simply say “Well if they don’t like it find another job!” or “Stop the strike and their whining and get back to work.” Their last contract came down in 2006. Are you telling me that you would be happy to have no raise, no cost of living increase, no promotion in YOUR job in the last 6 years?
* Update -Okay I can admit when I am wrong and have gone back into what contracts I can find online in regards to teachers back to 1997. Wage increases I found – 1997-2001 was 0,0,2.5 for that contract, main reason for the 0% increases was in a bid to keep support staff and other services for the kids. 2001-2004 was 2.5, 2.5, 2.5. 2006-2011 total of 16% . So for a total over 15 years – 26% wage increase. (though it is odd that they extended this last contract an extra year – perhaps not to have an issue during the 2010 Olympics ME thinks) Now lets take a look at the BC Legislature and all our wonderful MLA’s. June 1, 2007 – 29-53% wage increase depending on position. May 2009 the BC NDP take the raise they claimed was an “obscene pay increase” in 2007. the AVERAGE MLA wage between 2007 – 2010 increased by 34%. I still think what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Trust me when I say being a teacher is not an easy task. I see every day the toll it can take on a person. I try to help where I can with the things I can, but my wife can’t even come home at the end of the day and vent to me about issues about the school, kids or parents due to confidentiality. That is a lot of emotion to keep bottled up inside.
My wife starts her day at 5am making sure she has all she needs ready for the class, checking emails from parents/school. Heading into work early to make sure the classroom is set up and ready for the day. She spends many days staying late with kids after class waiting for parents to pick them up or cleaning up the classroom. Once our kids are in bed she starts the next round of prepping for the following day/week: writing up her lesson plans, getting all the documents together, hand-outs, supplies. Or her going in on weekends and/or over the holidays to maintain some eggs in an incubator or salmon fry in a fish tank. This is all on her own time, time that she is not paid for, time she gives up because she loves teaching and cares about her students. We can be in a store shopping and bump into an old student that runs up and gives her a hug because she was so great. Parents asking which school she is in so they might get their younger kid into her class because she was so great with their other kid(s). Parents who tell her that their kid still thinks she was the best teacher ever, even after they have graduated. Those are the times my wife feels appreciated as a teacher, but now all she feels is used and forgotten by the government and the public whom kids she teaches.
So, today class we will be discussing the current state of affairs of the BC Government vs. the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF)…The BCTF and the BC Government are currently locked in a stalemate over the creation of a new contract as their last agreement ended in June 2011.
The BC Government has decided that in “some” cases they have the right to run with a “Net Zero” policy for negotiations. Even Trevor Hughes, the assistant deputy minister of industrial relations, states in his report that it is very unlikely the B.C.’s teachers will reach a voluntary agreement with their government employers due to the net zero policy: “The net zero mandate is a fundamental obstacle,” concluded Hughes. I think those in government need to go back to school to learn what NEGOTIATION means. I’ll help you out with a definition: the reaching of agreement through discussion and compromise. So if the BC government wants a contract that would mean they will have to compromise and come to the table with something rather than nothing. Right now the government is acting like small kid having a tantrum arms crossed and screaming NO to every offer. Want a cookie little BC Government? …NO!
Teachers are currently running with a Phase 1 job action, this is the cessation of administrative duties, i.e. attending staff meetings, completion of report cards, collecting of fundraising money, etc. Now teachers have been deemed an essential service, in the same vein as police, ambulance, nurses, and municipal workers. Do you really think your kid will not survive without a report card? I’m sure if you asked most students if they miss their report cards you will get a “Hell, No!” Nowhere in this phase of job action is it listed NOT to teach your kids. If you want a full listing of what actions the teachers can’t do under this phase it can be found here: http://www.bctf.ca/qdta/documents/20110819Phase1JobAction.PDF
“Net zero” is not for everyone*
The BC Government says it has imposed a “net zero” requirement for the public sector. This means that any improvements must be matched by concessions that give up something from the collective agreement.
However, the facts show that it is only some in the public sector, including teachers, who are covered.
Here are examples of what other public sector employees in BC have negotiated in terms of salary increases:
BC Nurses – 3% for 2009, 3% for 2010, 3% for 2011
Delta Police – 8.75% over 33 months as of April 1, 2010
Kamloops Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2011, 2% for 2012, 2% for 2013
Surrey Firefighters – 3% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011
North Cowichan Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011, 2.5% for 2012, 3% for 2013
Comox District Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2% for 2011, 3% for 2012, 2% for 2013
Vancouver Police – 2.95% for 2010, 2.95% for 2011, 1.25% for 2012, 1.3% for 2013
Quesnel Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 0% for 2010, 1.5% for 2011, 2% for 2012
Courtenay Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2011, 2% for 2012, 2.75% for 2013, 2.25% for 2014
BC Paramedics – 3% for 2010
Revelstoke Municipal Employees – 1.25% for 2010, 1.25% for 2011, 1.5% for 2012, 1.5% for 2013
And you wonder why there is little news support for the teacher’s point of view in this battle; in my opinion the answer is this:
Global TV workers have negotiated increases as well: Global TV (CEP) – 3.5% for 2011, 2.5% for 2012, 2% for 2013
So if the policy is to give nothing, where did all these increases come from? All of NOTHING is still NOTHING yet others have new contracts with raises. And if you can give these increases to others, why are the teachers being so solidly blocked from being able to negotiate in good faith? If they are an essential service then you should have some room to move in the talks. That is unless the BC government feels that they are not essential enough to bargain with. Essential enough to force back to work with legislation, but not good enough to make a counter offer even. The BCTF have come to the table with THREE different proposals, BC Government, NONE! Yet in the media the BCTF is made out to be the bad guys who are unwilling to work out a contract. I’m looking at you Global TV!
BC currently has a big push that education is key to the growth of kids and the BC economy with their BC Education Plan: http://www.bcedplan.ca/theplan.php (which is a farce in itself) but as a government they are now looking to screw over all the teachers they need to implement this plan. I have overheard in the coffee shops and seen the comments online that we should just fire all the teachers and replace them. Do you honestly think that there are enough out of work teachers to replace all current teachers? Or that they would want to work for a government that just screwed over the last batch of teachers? Or that they would want to work at the current wages (or less) as they try to pay off their 6 years of student loans? Or who have the skills and experience to do a better job teaching your kids? I think anyone that feels that teachers have it easy should take over a class for a week, not a day, not a few hours a FULL week. Hell, we will even let you take a week during the Phase 1 job action, just to be nice. Get back to me when you are done and let me know your thoughts after that week. I know for a fact that I do not have the patience to deal with a class full of kids like my wife every day. I have enough issue with my own kids (According to our preschool teachers they listen there at least). I could not imagine dealing with YOUR KIDS every day.
A Quote from my wife:
“Did you know that the government wants to give my principal the power to give me two weeks’ notice (even in the middle of the school year) to transfer me to any other school in the district because it is in the best interest of the school district? Not my best interest, not the best interest of my students or my family. They want teachers to work in fear of speaking out for our rights and our student’s rights by holding the threat of transferring us over our heads. I did not go to university for 6 years to be bullied like this! I do not work late every night and get to work at 7:30 in the morning to be treated like I don’t do my job. I am teaching my girls and my students how to stand up against bullies. I WILL VOTE YES on Tuesday! For me, this has NEVER been about my wages or benefits. I just want to have my basic rights preserved. If someone thinks I’m a bad teacher, then help me get better. But NEVER USE FEAR TACTICS TO MAKE ME COMPLY! Only an idiot would vote no. And being the only income right now, this is the worst time for a strike. BUT I will still vote to do the right thing.” (If you follow my unemployed bum post you know what’s up with the one income comment)
Yup, that’s right; the new contract that the BC Government wants to force down the throats of the teachers would strip away many basic workers’ rights. Some of which would be against BC’s own labour laws. Basically what this comes down to is that instead of following normal conflict resolution procedures the principle can say: “Hey, I don’t like you. So I am sending you to this job in Timbuktu in the best interest of the district.” How convenient is it that those that make the laws can change the laws to suit themselves.
Sure, if you replace them all you might wind up with a bunch of teachers that are just happy to have a job and will stand to attention and scream “Yes Sir, whatever you say Sir.” But is that really better? Do you really want a bunch of newbies fresh out of school with “Net Zero” experience? Trust me there is a BIG difference between book smarts and real world experience. And yes, I am fully aware that not all teachers are perfect; and many coast along in their jobs. I can remember one such teacher from high school; she’d come into class flip on a video and then take a nap at her desk. So yes there can be issues, but teaching is not something one studies to become because they get the summers off or to get rich. Hell, I think at the going rate a McDonald’s restaurant manager makes more money than the average school teacher in BC. A career in teaching is for that rare breed of person that actually wants to teach and mold the minds of our future leaders.
The BC Federation of Labour conducted a phone survey on February 25th in which BC residents are in favour of arbitration at a rate of 89%, the full report can be found here: http://bcfed.ca/files/Environics-TeacherBargainingSurvey.pdf . If you support your teacher(s) and want the best for your children I think it is high time you contact the BC MLA’s in your area. You can find their contact information here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm and give them a good ear, letter, email full of what you really think about their tactics in this dispute. And don’t just go yelling at the Liberals (even though they are the cause of all this). This issue is coming up for debate in the parliament to enforce back to work legislation, which means we need the opposition party members to get up and fight it as well. And for those opposition MLA’s reading this; this might be a band wagon you want to jump up on…Hint, hint.
Another update: Who wants to see what Bill 22 – 2012 EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT ACT is all about? The document can be found here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th4th/1st_read/gov22-1.htm I will post more after I get a chance to read this thing…
Geez, I get past the Definitions to run right into this Cluster F***:
Application of Labour Relations Code
2 (1) The Code and the regulations made under it apply in respect of a matter to which Division 2 or 3 applies, but if there is a conflict or an inconsistency between Division 2 or 3 and those enactments, Divisions 2 and 3 apply.
(2) The Labour Relations Board has exclusive jurisdiction to decide a question arising under Division 2 or 3, including any question of a conflict or an inconsistency referred to in subsection (1).
So basically what I am reading here is that; if anything within Division 2 or 3 is considered against the law under the Labour Relations Code the LRC laws are null & void.
What a way to start a contract, also wondering how they can back date a contract to July 2011, sure that was the end of the last contract but that means teachers pretty much loose a year. and in 2013 this starts all over again.
Hey look at that, Bill 22 gets to play with Class sizes…
(B) deleting Article D.2 entitled “K-3 Primary Class Size”, – Free Daycare for everyone! We can pack the little ones in like Sardines, I mean really how much can they learn in those classes, may as well just hire a babysitter and wait till they get to a real grade to teach them…oh wait, we have something on that as well in this Bill…
(2.1) Subject to subsection (2.4), a board must ensure that the class size of any class for any of grades 4 to 12 in any school in its school district does not exceed 30 students unless
(a) in the opinions of the superintendent of schools for the school district and the principal of the school, the organization of the class is appropriate for student learning, or
(b) the class is in a prescribed category of classes.
So what we got here is if there is a really good reason for the class to be bigger than 30 kids we can make it happen. In the mean time Grades 4-12 can be 30 kids per class. Maybe we should set 10 minutes per kid a day so that they can have some one on one time with the teacher, because I really see teachers having the time to deal with that many kids educational problems on a daily basis.
Update – since everyone seems to be coming straight to this post it will just get longer…
Sorry, that I have not updated lately on this matter but I’m still working on getting a job…
So, I noticed another little tidbit in Bill 22
(c) every employee must continue or resume his or her full duties and work schedules of employment with the employer,
Now add to the above portion of the Bill this next portion:
(1) An employee, the BCTF or an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, who contravenes section 3 (1) (b), (c) or (e), as the case may be, commits an offence and is liable to the following:
(a) in the case of an employee, a fine amount of not more than $475 for each day on which the offence occurs;
(b) in the case of the BCTF, a fine amount of not less than $1.3 million for each day on which the offence occurs;
(c) in the case of an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, a fine amount of not less than $2 500 for each day on which the offence occurs.
So basically if you are the coach of a team or in charge of any extra-curricular activities which you are doing on your OWN time now; you will have to continue those activities once Bill 22 is put into place or you will be fined. Yup, no good deed goes unpunished.
Petition to Stop Bill 22 – Sign it and pass it on to everyone you know:
A Great post from a Teachers Perspective, By: Nick P.:
So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
*Comments: I have been posting everyone’s comments that come in unless my SPAM settings auto deletes them (even before this blog there was a lot of spam coming in, it was a regular Monty Python skit here). So far I can say that there has not been anything really offensive so I have allowed them. I feel everyone has their right to their opinion (hence my blog post), so let’s keep it that way please! This should be a no TROLL zone. Of note I am also aware that some commentators are using Guerrilla Mail accounts and such but I allow the comments once again because they are not out of line. I also do ISP checks, and I’m sure I am not the only one, so be careful when posting… (Is that subtle enough?)