I’m Sharing this…Why I’m Rattled at the Liberals…a teacher’s perspective.
Why I’m Rattled at the Liberals…a teacher’s perspective.
This was going to be a status update but I have a bit too much to say. I am sickened and disappointed by how some media outlets depict my union’s job action. Often, the only words I hear in the news reports are “wages” and “class size”. Too often the reporting is so narrowly focused and repetitive it is hard to fully appreciate the scope of the issues. Here’s what’s really going on and why teachers are so upset.
1) The abolishment of seniority rights. Even the Roman army had seniority rights. Why this government wants to do away with seniority rights befuddles and scares me. Doing away with seniority exposes teachers to being hired and fired due to a “who you know” scenario and/or a popularity contest. Elimination of seniority rights could also set more experienced/ educated teachers (who are at a higher pay scale) at a disadvantage, in favor of younger/less educated teachers (who are at a lower pay scale). Districts want to cut costs, correct?
2) Contract stripping. When two sides come to an agreement about an issue and sign a contract that contract should be upheld for the duration of that contract. This Liberal government ripped up our contract that we had with them in 2002. The part they ripped up eliminated provisions protecting class size, class composition, and services to students with special needs. The BCTF website states, “the 2002 legislation enabled the BC Liberals to cut $336 million annually from public education and so severely curtailed free collective bargaining rights that it could not sustain a challenge under the Charter of Rights. In April 2011, the BC Supreme Court found the bills to be unconstitutional and invalid”. Yet, despite the Supreme Court ruling it’s business as usual for George Abbott and the Liberals. It blows my mind how this can happen in a democratic society.
3) The One Strike and You’re Out Policy. In this case a teacher could be dismissed from their job due to a poor performance review or for other incidents. Of course creepy teachers should be shown the door…no one is going to argue that, but a few bad lessons or what is deemed to be an inappropriate comment shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal unless there is a fair process. All workers deserve the opportunity to learn from their experiences/ mistakes, with support and constructive feedback from their employers. A three strikes you’re out policy, implemented with partnership of administration, school board, and union seems more than fair, as it provides opportunity for employees to grow on a professional level in addition to maintaining accountability.
4) Bargaining in bad faith. How can the government come to a bargaining table with a net zero mandate from the get-go? How can the government only want to take away from our contract, yet add nothing?
5) Changing laws. Last week my union applied to the Labour Relations Board to conduct a strike. The LRB gave us the go-ahead to conduct a strike. Hours later, the Liberals drafted up a law to say that we are not allowed to go on strike. As a worker I feel my rights have been taken away from me. How is it that the students I teach have more rights than I do when they go to their jobs after school?
6) Bill 22—The Liberals will pass Bill 22 next week that imposes a new contract on teachers. Under this legislated contract there will be no class size or composition limits for grades 4-7. Whereby a teacher used to be consulted (that wasn’t even perfect), now a superintendent can have the final say and put however many students they would like in a class.
7) “Mediation“—This Fiberal government says that a contract will be mediated. Bogus. It is a mediator they appoint and that mediator has been told that any additional money towards education is unavailable. Class size and composition and wages will not be discussed by the mediator. How can we call this mediation when one side lays out what can and can’t be discussed beforehand? Instead of calling this a “cooling off period” how about calling it what it really is…a period of time in which the Liberals have taken away our right to strike, have imposed a contract, and have refused to engage in meaningful discussions about the core issues. Essentially the Liberals are saying, “Shut up, this is the contract WE have decided on and we’ll talk to you in two years. And oh, by the way, if you teachers want to strike you will be fined $475 per day and your union will be fined over a million dollars per day”. This is mediation? Really?
8) Money, money, money is all the media is covering. Yes, a fair and equitable wage is important to me. If your contract was up with your boss you would probably ask for a raise too. Considering other teachers earn more in other provinces and do the same or less amount of work it gets you thinking. Given these economic times, no one is expecting a bonanza but at the very least could we get a cost of living increase? Please?… No?…Ok, thought I’d ask.
To many of us, our wage could remain the same and life would go on happily for us. Quite frankly, as much as a wage increase would be nice, it is at the very bottom of my beef with the Liberals.
Teachers don’t want to have to walk off the job, but given that every other avenue has been exhausted, what other option do we have? What would it say about us and our level of concern for our rights and the rights of students if we simply turned the other cheek and accepted this vicious assault on the education system?
As a teacher who works with students every day I KNOW that at this moment the Liberal government is not serious about improving conditions for students or for teachers. Don’t believe their bogus interviews on tv about how they are worried that our job action will be detrimental to students. Abbott and the rest of the Liberals almost sound convincing in interviews. Their actions clearly demonstrate a complete disregard for students and teachers. So, if you see us on the streets next week please don’t think it is about the money. Know that our job action is about protecting the rights of teachers and students so that we can both come to school each day equipped with what we need to be successful.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested!
Hope you don’t mind Nick, but I did pass it along…