The teachers are on strike again? It seems as if they go on strike every year and make our kids lose school days.
Actually, they don’t. Never mentioned, in headline or media, is that since 2001, B.C.’s Liberal government has caused the loss of many more school days than the B.C.T.F ever could.
One media outlet, not untypically, screamed;
“3 strikes, 14 school days lost since 1995, because of the B.C.T.F., one of B.C.’s most “militant” unions.”
While it’s true that up until the current dispute, teacher strikes resulted in the loss of 14 school days since 1995, such headlines are inexcusably misleading and inflammatory.
Teachers had the right to strike from 1987 to 2002 when the government declared Education an Essential service, outlawed strikes, and removed working conditions from the collective bargaining process.
Ten of the 14 aforementioned lost school days resulted from a single strike in 2005, a strike in response to contract stripping by the government, actions censured by the United Nations (10 times), the Supreme Court of Canada (2007) and since then by the Supreme Court of B.C. (2011 and 2014)
Responding to that kind of bargaining behaviour isn’t “militant”. What would any employee group do if faced with an employer that ignores the repeated censure of their bargaining behaviour by international, national and provincial judiciaries?
Any number of school days lost to labour dispute is too many, but even if you include the 10 day strike, teacher strikes have lost fewer than one lost school day per year since 1995 – hardly the actions of “one of B.C.’s most militant unions.”
In contrast, government funding cuts have forced most school districts to double Spring Breaks – that’s at least five lost school days each and every year, or 100 lost days if taken over a twenty year period.
A few school districts have even cut back to 4-day weeks, or about 38 lost school days per year, 760 lost school days if taken over a twenty-year period.
Despite 20 years of losing purchasing power, twelve years of deep cuts to education, unconstitutional bargaining, and startlingly disrespectful treatment, this “militant” union has caused the loss of fewer school days over 20 years than the actions of the B.C. Liberal government have caused in one year.
Those bloody teachers don’t go on strike every year.It would be more correct to say the bloody government seems bent on provoking a teacher’s strike every year.
Preach it, brother!
As a former teacher, who only went out once in support of a support staff strike, I can tell you that Canada, unfortunately, is taking a play from the USA “how to get cheaper labor” playbook. What they do is force you out, on strike, lock out, school closure, etc. and then they can fire you for being “militant” etc. Why? So they can hire kids just out of university to teach the kids at half what the former teacher was making. Far too many “managers” in the school systems these days and not enough actual teachers who’ve worked their way up. Keep raving brother, keep raving.
Teachers are not respected or understood enough; the media hurts…even if unions put their public announcements later… the damage is already done. Truly we don’t treat our teachers fairly and yet, we expect them to influence, educate and many times nurture our own children…shame on us!!!
Indeed!!! Well said
Thanks…I volunteered as a parent and saw how teachers work hard, then taught 5 years and the extra 10 hours or more prep time (not paid) every week was a huge reality check.
Amen to the above…………………..
Mr. Nelson – nice to see you writing about education! You and Mrs. Nelson were definitely two of the most influential teachers in my life!
Jeanine Chevalier Sallos
No way – Jeanine Chevalier? – also one of my all time favourite students and people. Are you still excrutiatingly smart?
Smart enough to remember good education when I got it! I hope you and your family are doing well.
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They do go on strike all the time… decade after decade, year after year. The union is too powerful; any ugly entity that just keeps grubbing for more.
Unfortunately they don’t get more with all their “grubbing ” for more Pete. Do you “grub” for more or are you the object of grubbers? It’s so easy to throw the other guy under the bus – no one deserves much except you.
Well said Mr. Nelson… I *LOVE* it when the ones whinging about teachers not deserving more are the uneducated masses that have cushy or better yet – SECURE – jobs…. Yet teachers, who finish 5 to 8 years of school with MASSIVE post-secondary debt are supposed to be HAPPY with nationally sub-standard wages, hours upon hours of UNPAID overtime (which those uneducated masses would NEVER do) and watching their beloved profession go into the toilet….
And even the ones that ARE educated: there is no hope in hell that they’d work the amount of unpaid overtime that teachers do, happily weather the reduced support they are getting, or take the kind of abuse that the gov’t hands out year after year. All they focus on is the “2 months of holidays every year.” They forget (or don’t know or don’t care) that teachers are UNPAID during that time (unless they choose to spread out their pay packet)… But hey, who am I to point out the facts? Who am I to point out that the REASON those EDUCATED masses have their education is because of the blood, sweat and tears put in by teachers????
And to answer the question some would ask: I have NO post-secondary education – I am not a teacher. But I CAN see the forest for the trees and point out an injustice when I see it.
The facts prove the myths wrong. Let’s hear the truth.
Many people seem to want to give the teachers whatever it is that they ask for, that is until they have to pay for it at tax time.
Actually, it is a “catch 22” type of issue. As a parent I do want the best for my kids and I know that that requires money, provided by my taxes. I know that the teachers give so, so much of their own time and resources. HOWEVER, the economy is in a recovery and we barely have enough to feed and provide all the other necessities for our families, and jobs are harder and harder to find and keep. I don’t just mean low paying jobs either. My husband is a university educated computer programmer/analyst and he has been “downsized” more times than I care to think about. It isn’t that we are unwilling to pay more tax, because for my children’s education, I most certainly am, it is that, a good portion of the time, we are UNABLE to pay more taxes.
It’s not a matter of your paying more taxes. It’s a matter of government spending priority. 2 billion in lost tax revenue from the 2002 tax cuts for the wealthy. Christy Clark found 1,2 billion overnight to try to convince us to support the HST. 9 Million to bring “Bollywood” here.
Our difficulty “paying taxes” is much more a problem of user fees, hydro rates, tolls, casinos,lotteries. The government gets its money from raising fees and services – that way ,the rich won’t be affected. If we had a progressive income tax – the rich pay more than the poor, we could afford public services.
It’s not the teachers or public schools that are too expensive, our tax money goes to supporting business.
Well said Jim.
Great to finally get the facts out there. Teachers are dedicated to “all” the children and countless hours go into preparing to “reach” all the children… these hours in planning and researching how children learn (Special Needs Children including the Gifted) is never taken into account.
Teachers are either on strike or threatening a strike. It never ends. I know several teachers and they are all paid very well. They all own their own home, have most of the summer off and have more than enough money to travel, drive nice cars, buy boats, the works. I also know many people who work in various industries that don’t have the option to strike, who work hard, but get paid less than teachers. I also am aware there are many ‘want to be teachers’ who can’t find work. It’s sad to see so many teachers complain about how rough they have it, when it’s quite the opposite. If they want to see it rough, give their job to someone who needs it and will appreciate it.
I am a teacher. Almost half my income goes to paying rent. I do not own a home, I am still paying of student loans 7 years in. I am taking my first vacation in 7 years. The only reason I have a car is because I have taken on a second job (so that I can pay my rent in the summer), and so that I can drive to my volunteer coaching job and tournaments 2-3 times a week.
On top of that, a good $1000 of my income goes to supporting my students in the classroom each year (buying books, art supplies, science equipment etc.)
Since I started teaching, this is only the 2nd time that we have been on strike – so this nonsense of us being on strike all of the time is ridiculous.
If I could, I would invite you to stand in my shoes for the day – teach a classroom of more and more students each year, with an ever increasing number of students with learning difficulties, increased anxiety, autism and behaviour issues. Very few of whom seem to be entitled to any (or very little) extra support from specialists (counsellors, speech and language pathologists, school psychologists etc.).
In your job – are you expected to work unpaid overtime. Bring your work supplies from home and pay for them out of your own pocket. Meet with your clients on your own time, calling and having conferences at night and on weekends so that their needs are met. Does your job keep you up at night because you worry that your clients aren’t being properly fed or looked after, or why they just don’t seem to get the concept you spoke of earlier that day?
Before you judge, improve your rhetoric by informing yourself about what it’s really like.
This isn’t just about wages, though yes it would be nice to have a cost-of-living increase. It’s about being able to maintain our charter rights to collective bargaining. Have you asked yourself why it’s ok for our Premier to completely disobey and ignore a court order from the Supreme court. For any other citizen this would mean steep fines or jail time. For our premier it apparently means that she thinks that she is above the law.
Our kids deserve better. Smaller class sizes, more specialists to help students who are struggling and more resources to make education more equitable again.
Well said Lille
Excellent post, nailed it.
I’ve recently had a meeting with a local BCTF president in my area and the emotion and duress on his face was dreadful. The hoops that the Government is imposing on picketing, pre-emptively garnishing wages for “potential” job action with no warning. Not garnishing wages of people who do extra curricular volunteer activities. Forcing teachers to cross picket lines due to essential service orders. It’s amazing that these things manage to pass through the media’s radar.
As much as the Minister of Education says that he is willing to negotiate. Until the $2-billion+ court case gets settled, nothing positive is going to come out of these negotiations. The cannibalistic government style of net zero negotiating is unsustainable without sacrificing quality of services. (As every public sector union is well aware of)
Thanks S.Smith. You’re right,it’s a lazy media that doesn’t nail the government and the L.R.B. to the wall on this one.It’s southern U.S., union busting, right to work stuff.
google “Coal Mine” = he’s got some good stuff on the dispute.
Bob, you must be joking? Are you attempting sarcasm or satire? You must be, because if you’re not, you’re one of the most ignorant simpletons I’ve ever come across. I’d try to fill you in on all the ways you’re wrong, but clearly you’re unmoved by facts.
Actually Rick, Bob is right. Teaching is all of that and MORE. It’s not too late for a career change Bob. Interested? Go on give it a shot. I can tell you’d make a great teacher.
I believe our teachers deserve a fair shake as they are helping groom our future generation; however having said that, I am tired of hearing about the extra hours. How many professionals don’t do extra work after hours and are still in similar income brackets? Both my husband and I put in just as many extra hours at our chosen professions. You know what the job entails before you sign up so stop complaining about it. Focus on what is important. The kids. I also would love to see our teachers treated like other employees….performance appraisals and pay for merit as a start. If our kids are to take over for us then they need the best possible education which means get rid of the dead weight high salary teachers that don’t give a hoot and replace them with others who truly want to do the job. The BCTF and the Gov’t are lying and our kids and teachers deserve better.
Carla, I am interested in knowing your thoughts. If it were up to you how would you determine performance and merit pay? Standardized test scores? Taking part in extra curricular activities? Other?
14 school days lost since 1995 is ONE day per year. It’s too bad it has to happen at all, but really – no one’s education is suffering because of THAT.
Pete wang….get in to a classroom, please….and observe how hard teachers work with the learning conditions which were created when support services were illegallystripped from teachers who took zero wage increases to get those conditions for their students. I have seen five year oldsin class who could not be understood…but no speech language help available…no money to hire speech language pathologist. .I have seen learning disabled children needing specialist reading help…same problem, no money or time to support them….so, you will support them when they graduate…….seriously, let’s invest at least the money every other province invests…..$1,000 per student is being withheld, every year, by the Liberal government…do you care about b.c.’s future?
Not shocking……where does the media’s loyalty lie…..
Glorified babysitters, that Are over paid and demand to much. Pull your head out of your arses and get back to looking after/educating our children so the rest of us don’t have to take a day off while you strike. This way we can Pay for your rediculous demands.
Pull your head out of your “arses” – very effective rhetoric.
But I find that keeping my head up my arse helps me understand the characteristics of the criticism thrown at teachers by the truly incisive troop of critics with whom you so clearly identify.
“Ridiculous demands…” – nice. Such profound analysis is difficult to refute.
As far as being “glorified Babysitters is concerned, teachers would take that. Being paid on a baby sitter scale would involve a considerable salary increase.
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I have had two friends who entered teaching later in life. One taught heavy duty mechanics at BCIT and another taught nursing at a private college. Neither of them previously thought teachers had it easy, but now that they have experienced it, albeit with adults, they have both commented on how demanding, draining and time consuming it is. Much more challenging than a long day as a mechanic or as a ER nurse working a 12 hour shift.
The point being, all knowledge comes from experience. Unless you have taught, you really don’t know what you are talking about and your assumptions are woefully wrong. Today’s schools are NOT like they were when you when to school. I recently retired from teaching. I would much rather have a class of 32 or 35 if they could be like the students I had when I first began teaching. Today’s students are much more diverse. I could even handle a class of 40 such students if we returned to rows of students copying work from the board and filling in worksheets, like they still do in some countries, but I don’t think anyone would want a return to that method of teaching.
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Don’t get me wrong I support the teachers in this dispute but at least one of your facts is incorrect. When schools went to a 2 week spring break, those 5 days were spread across the school year. Adding approx 10 mins to each school day meant no actual teaching time was lost. It was a cost saving exercise due to yet again under-funding by the BC government.
You’re completely, correct Bob – thanks.
Missed school days are in fact “made up for” by adding minutes to other school days. In my experience however, those minutes don’t compensate in any meaningful way for the missed school days; a 70 minute period is no more productive than a 60 minute period.
I left this analysis out of my post in the interest of clarity and brevity.
Thanks for noticing.
If you’re going to crouch your perspective in legal argument, you should perhaps do some fact-checking.
1. The United Nations doesn’t have any opinion on the constitutionality of government actions, that’s a weird thing to say. They (i.e. the ILO) only comment on whether or not they believe Canada is living up to its treaty obligations, which is not a constitutional matter, and they do so by issuing non-binding advisory opinions. ILO opinions don’t typically get treated with much weight, and probably less weight than the opinions of domestic advocacy groups, and have absolutely nothing to do with constitutional matters.
2. The Supreme Court of Canada has NOT ruled on the constitutionality of the actions of the government in 2005. I imagine you are referring to a 2007 supreme court case that discussed matters similar to the BCTF situation in 2005 but was actually about health services workers and not teachers (Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia). So while that case suggests that the Supreme Court of Canada would be likely to rule the government’s actions against the BCTF as unconstitutional, that’s a far different statement than what you’ve made.
3. You are correct about the latest BC Supreme Court case, but I note that is currently under appeal and not final.
4. Meanwhile, the BCTF regularly defied the orders of the BC Supreme Court in 2005 and was even found in contempt of court. Unlike the ILO opinions, these orders are legally binding, and the BCTF defied them. Curious you didn’t mention that.
I don’t really like either the BCTF or the government in this fight, but basing your arguments in incorrect statements is not going to convince me of anything.
Dear Mr. Bluman;
Thank you for your recent response to my blog “Those Bloody Teachers are on Strike Again”.
It’s good to hear someone present logical criticism, rather than just mouthing the usual hateful rhetoric . Thank you for taking the time.
The thing that most overwhelms me about the B.C. Education dispute is, is the unwillingness of media and the public, to make any meaningful analysis of the situation – their attention span is spectacularly short.
Education is way more complicated than people think.
I’ve been involved with public education for fourty years. I really understand it and what this government is doing to it. So when I get accused of misrepresenting the situation; I’m concerned – especially when the concerns are legitimate, like yours.
Anyway, to your point(s).
Your thesis that I “couch(rather than “crouch”) my perspective in legal argument” is a fair criticism, I suppose.
You are correct in saying that the numerous ILO censures of B.C. Government bargaining practices (over 10) , does not speak to the constitutionality of a labour practice. You’re also correct that It is not legally binding nor does it apparently, cut any moral or ethical mustard with either the Liberal government or you ,which I find somewhat disturbing.
Still, you are correct, I should have more precisely said that government bargaining practices were “censured” over ten times by the ILO., not “found unconstitutional”.
You are also correct in saying that the Supreme Court of Canada ruling of 2007 ( which I mistakenly cited as a 2005 ruling) did not specifically address the BC Teacher’s situation,
although the BCTF was spiritually and strategically involved with the HEU campaign throughout the process, knowing that it pertained directly to teachers as well.
I yield these points and thank you for pointing them out; but please; don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
It is undeniable that continuous International censure resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2007 ruling of unconstitutional bargaining by the government of B.C., which formed the basis of the B.C. Supreme Court’s finding of unconstitutional bargaining with teachers on the part of the B.C government.
You’re also correct that Teachers did defy the Supreme Court of BC in their dispute in 2005, ( not “regularly” as you let yourself say) , having been legislated back to work for 3.5 years of zeroes and because of some other extremely punitive measures legislated by Mike Dejong.
The difference with the teacher’s defiance of the court was that they conceded and publicly announced their civil disobedience. The Liberal government just says “ who me”?, when twice judged to be bargaining unconstitutionally. It’s been 13 years since teachers contracts were stripped of the right to collective bargain class size and composition and to bargain at all, having been designated an essential service.
A legal nuance that I know you would be interested in is that in the first BC Court ruling (2011) the Liberals were judged to have acted unconstitutionally (9 years earlier) when they stripped the teacher’s contract.
They were given one year to “fix it” . The government’s “fix” was virtually the same legislation –Bill 22 ( 2 /1/2 months later than instructed by the court)
The judge,once burned ,twice shy, ruled Bill 22, the replacement contract stripping legislation was the same unconstitutional legislation but this time, she clarified it for a government clearly not listening to her:
“When legislation is struck down as unconstitutional, it means that it was never valid, from the date of it’s enactment. This means that deleted terms in the teacher’s collective agreement have been restored retroactivley…”
The “it’s under appeal “ gambit doesn’t cut it. The contract provisions pertaining to class size that were stripped by the 2002 essential service, the one that said “can’t strike, essential service, can’t bargain class size and composition legislation was returned to 2001 by the Court’s judgment of unconstitutionality, which was not appealed in 2012, only ignored.
Here’s the rhetorical bit….
I’m very concerned that people never seem to get angry with the government’s disgraceful behaviour , I can only say, “against” the teachers.
Their behaviour shows they don’t want public education in this province. If that’s our preference, let’s discuss that, instead of just raining as much retribution and as little money as we can down on public education and teachers.
Despite the legal loopholes you correctly identified, can you see any moral or ethical culpability or responsibility on the part of the government? If you were a part of a government that that has been censured multiple times by the ILO, judged to have been bargaining unconstitutionally by the Supreme court of Canada and twice by the Supreme Court of B.C. , would you simply ignore it all just because the people of BC seem quite willing to jump on every teacher bashing punishment you come up with.
You say you don’t have a dog in this fight , I’m afraid I don’t believe it.
The parsing of blogs in the interest of accuracy is an important thing to do. I hope you’ll be just as vigilant in your critique of anti teacher blogs and government inaccuracies such as “we’ve increased education funding every year…”
I have all kinds of facts and figures if you’re interested in education.
Well put Mr. Nelson. Thanks for being a voice for all of us.
I am sick of hearing teachers moaning about hours and conditions they have to work in, the children have to work in the same conditions and only do an hour less a day, and work harder than the teachers… teachers teach what they already know, the children have to learn something new every day…
and any excuse they can come up with they are out on strike, not like they dont get enough holidays as it is, parents that get 3 to 4 weeks holiday a year in most cases have to use a day of that allowance to cover child care each time… gone are the days the teachers actually put their all into the job and earned their money teaching kids the foundations of what they will need in life, now they just teach them to pass exams with as little effort as they can.
How does one reply to this?If you would be kind enough to tell me what you do for living, I’ll give you a bitter, unreasonable, ignorant, depressing description of how awful your contribution is.