Saturday, June 7, 2014

TEACHERS, YOU HAVE A DIFFICULT CHOICE TO MAKE

Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCTFf Pres Jim Iker
Teachers will have to decide whether to give their BCTF an overwhelming mandate to play hardball at the bargaining table or to say adamantly, strike a deal ASAP. Teachers are angry. If you are a teacher, how angry are you? Are you angry enough to go on full strike and finish off the school year that way? Do you agree with the demands that your BC Teachers Federation is making?

If as I am led to believe, wages are not the primary objective but of more crucial concern are class sizes and composition, then teachers need to tell their representatives to bring the salary demand more in line with the government offer. Negotiation logic expects that the government then will be more inclined to address class size and composition demands.

The most recent ask by the union is for a pay hike of 9.75 per cent over four years, not including the cost-of-living allowance that compensates for inflation. That reflects an increase of 3 per cent in the first year, followed by 2.25 per cent each year over the following three years. So while 9.75% doesn’t sound like much, the impact is larger of course because of the unexpressed cost of living compensation. When the government reads that demand it says the compounded numbers come to a total increase of 14.7%. That doesn’t appear to be a great improvement over the earlier 15.9% BCTF demand.

The B.C. Public School Employers Association (the government’s bargaining vehicle) earlier offered 7.3% over six years. That’s a presumptuous offer too, representing no salary increase apart from bare cost of living increases.

I believe that if BCTF made a request for 10% over four years and that includes COLA, as well as the class size and composition proviso, there would be a deal. That demonstrates to government a noteworthy willingness to compromise and it underscores that the primary issues are class size and composition each of which speaks to parents about the desire to provide superior education to children.

1 comment:

  1. As a former teacher and, like you, Ron, the father of a dedicated teacher, and as one who remains engaged in thinking about education, I recognize this as a difficult time for teachers, as well as a time that parents of students--particularly of students nearing graduation-- find stressful. Certainly some compromise such as you have suggested may have to be accepted if serious harm to the education system is not to result.
    One question will perhaps not be considered in the public discussion of wages and working conditions, but should be considered and not be forgotten when the apparent crisis is over. That question is this: Are the government and the BCTF truly representing those they claim to represent and serve?
    The government claims to speak for taxpayers, and in the case of education, for parents and students. But, looking over its record during the time between bargaining crises, it does not look to me as though it is very responsive to parents or aware of parental concerns that go to the heart of what education is all about. As long as the teachers' union does not ask for salaries that will negatively affect the budget, the government allows the BCTF to have a pretty free hand. In effect, the BCTF is allowed to indoctrinate students in the most bizarre ways. Just look at their efforts to transform government schools to propagandize for homosexual behaviour.
    As for the BCTF, it claims to represent the best interests of teachers and students. But is it in the best interests of teachers to engage in political activity that reflects the view of one political party? And is it in the best interests of teachers or students for the BCTF to become the chief advocate of the sexual propaganda already referred to? Teachers who work conscientiously in the classroom are not well-represented by some of the BCTF's activities that are not in the interests of students and which ride roughshod over the rights of parents.
    If the government were more responsive to parental concerns and the teachers' union were to concentrate more on issues directly affecting the welfare of teachers, then surely the interest of the general public as well as of teachers, parents, and students, would be better served.

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