New Rule #2 in the Education Dispute

New Rule;

Everyone has to immediately stop saying,

“ Teacher’s salary demands are much higher than what other public sector unions settled for. ”

Because that’s not true.

Firefighting and police are public sector unions.

Coquitlam Firefighters got 6% over two years, and all other Metro Firefighters got within a quarter percent of that; except for Delta Firefighters of course, who got 20% over 8 years.

Recently, Vancouver Police quietly got 8.8% over three years.

And city workers? Burnaby CUPE, bus drivers, Hydro, B.C.I.T., B.C Pavillion, all 4% over 2 years; Skytrain 5.75% over 3 years.
Prince Rupert city workers got 18.25% over 4 years.

All of these settlements are more than 2% per year, just above the inflation rate and more than what the teachers are asking – 8% over 5 years.

And in the downtrodden private sector; locals of the Machinists and Steelworkers unions got 9.5% over 3 years and Unifor – 10.5% over 3 years.

Federally, CUPW (posties), got 7.25% over 3 years.

According to Stats Can, the average public and private sector settlement in 2013 was 2.59%.

Were B.C’s teachers to get the average Canadian salary settlement for 2013, it would be 15.54 % over the six years the government insists on.

Let me be clear; all the workers listed above deserve every penny of their raises. I cast no aspersions on them. But their settlements make a point seldom made by a lazy media; that B.C. teachers salary requests are neither ridiculous nor particularly high, especially after they have been offered zeroes in six of the last fourteen years and an average raise of less than 1% per year for 16 years, leaving them almost at the bottom of Canadian teacher salaries.

And sure, the wage settlements cited above are cherry picked – I didn’t include some settlements less favourable to the case – that’s what the government gets away with daily, without challenge.

B.C’s health workers and the BCGEU did ,in fact, get only slightly above 1% per year, but to hear either government Peter talk, you’d think that everyone in Canada is happily settling for salary cuts, which is what the government’s final salary offer to teachers amounts to; Six years, 1.1 % per year – starting of course with two more zeroes. 1.1% is less than the consumer price index in almost all of the last 15 years.

So, when you want to say that teachers outrageous salary “demands”, are “not even in the ball park”, you must instead say;

“Well, B.C. teacher salary requests are actually in every ballpark in Canada, except the ballpark in which the provincial government plays; the ballpark in which the employer is broke; having given all the tax revenues to rich guys in 2002.”

About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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27 Responses to New Rule #2 in the Education Dispute

  1. Mike McElgunn says:

    Thanks, Jim, for broadening the conversation around teachers’ “outrageous salary demands”. The current BCTF salary proposal is actually 8% over five years, not four, well below the 2.02% inflation rate April 2013 to April 2014. Also, unless you have quite the crystal ball, you need to edit your two references for public and private settlements to 2013…


  2. Andrew says:

    You mention you cherry picked but more importantly you are in a different orchard. None of those are bc govt employees.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      You clearly didn’t read the column; the theme of which is that B.C.’s teachers aren’t asking “more than all other public sector unions” as Mr. Fassbender and the premier constantly say. Neither are they “demanding” more than the poor, downtrodden private sector, many of whom are getting significantly more in terms of raises than B.C.’s teachers are even asking.
      The only “public sector unions” asked to take salary cuts are those unfortunate enough to have to negotiate with the provincial government that gave away the farm in tax cuts.

      Surely you can grasp the differentiation and the point, though you clearly won’t agree.


  3. Had Enough says:

    That is called Confirmation Bias where you cherry pick the info you want ignoring all the other information that does not support your claims. How many if those unions also want another billion plus in funding too, how many of claim to put students first yet the students can’t even go to school, how many of them seem to do some firm of “job action” contract after contract. The teachers deserve a raise no question about it, but just be happy you are getting one at all.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Had Enough;
      I think we’ve all had enough – but you’re blaming the victim, because like many, you’re unwilling to investigate the dispute, you just want to vent frustration.

      The reason for annual teacher job action is annual education funding cuts with no salary increase.The government’s education strategy is simple – starve public education, force conflict, and count on people getting fed up and scatter-gunning hatred towards teachers – and it’s working.They know there’s not too many votes for them from anyone who knows anything about education, so who cares – beat ’em up. every year , blame the victim.

      Just for your interest, there has been only one negotiated agreement between government and teachers since provincial bargaining began. It came just before the Olympics; a five year salary deal for just above the cost of living index,along with a signing bonus. It was the only time this government has negotiated with teachers in any meaningful way. They were motivated to achieve labour peace during the Olympics and actually committed to the process. Then Labour Minister Carole Taylor brokered the deal, the only teachers contract since 2001 that committed any new money to teacher’s salaries. Since 2001, when she had to hold her nose and live up to a 2.5% raise given by the outgoing government, Christy Clark has not given teachers one dime in salary increase.
      Not coincidentally, Christy Clark was not in government for the Olympics settlement, she was talk show hosting on CKNW.

      You can’t blame teachers for the “billion plus” missing from the public education budget since 2002. It was arbitrarily stripped from the system by then Education Minister , Christy Clark – perhaps you’ve heard that rumour. The legislation that removed that money was judged unconstitutional twice by the Supreme Court. When the court finds legislation “unconstitutional” it isn’t operative, it never existed, the original contract language is restored, the class size and composition language of the original contract is operative today, now.
      The “billon plus” dollars that you allude to should still be in the education system; teachers aren’t demanding more money.

      For the life of me I can’t understand an anger towards teachers so blind that a government behaving illegally is less important than wanting to get a few , uninformed insults in at teachers.

      Instead of asking “where’s 2 billion going to come from” you should be screaming ‘ where did 2 billion go” over 12 years.
      As far as your saying “the teachers deserve a raise , no question” is concerned, if you read the blog, rather than just reacting to it you’d see that the government is offering less than the cost of living for six years – effectively a salary cut and that teachers are asking for an increase equal to or slightly less than the projected CPI.


  4. If I was a teacher I would stand firm and never agree to less than what is asked, in terms of a raise. The BC government has just made millions on this teacher strike in terms of unpaid wages, on the backs of the very people that look after one of our most precious resources, your children. The BC government has just financially crippled many of your teachers over the next three and a half mos. until school starts again in the fall, remembering their first paycheck will not be until September 15th, 2014. It is another shame to see that the BCGEU has also taken a beating regarding a raise. Mainly, your medical staff look after your elderly, your sick and your lame. The BC government has also fine tuned the average senior so we go without medicine, dental, hearing aids and cannot afford our housing, due to taxes. The only people that really benefit are people that have been on welfare or provincial aide. I am sure our government is already fine tuning a totally devastating package for them as well.


  5. lucy says:

    I was under the impression that wages was NOT the issue for the teachers…(insert sarcasm)… they keep insisting this has NOTHING to do with the money. Its about the kids??? If money was taken off the table would this be happening? I’m betting not. So lets be clear… this whole issue IS about the money.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Of course it’s about the money. It’s about the 275 million annually taken out of the education budget as a result of the 2002 contract stripping. It’s about the 5% across the board funding cut that was the very first thing then Education Minister Christy Clark did. It’s about the annual cuts to education funding by “increasing” funding at less than the rate of inflation and downloading CUPE salary increase, carbon taxes, earthquake upgrades, high incidence learning assistance, ESL, gifted costs to school districts.

      And that money, taken from public education, hurts kids; and teachers teach kids, and teachers help kids, and teachers defend kids. Surely you can see that.

      If, by “let’s be clear…this whole issue is about money” you mean it’s all about “salary”,you’re dead wrong. Were it all about salary, teachers would have to be the worst negotiators ever. They haven’t had a salary increase above the inflation rate in twenty years. In 1998, the teachers accepted two years of zeroes( again) in exchange for class size and composition assurances; then Christy Clark tore up the contract and made sure they got neither the salary nor the class size and composition assurance.

      Why do teachers need to prove their commitment to kids by never asking for a salary increase? If you,in your job, were told that a salary increase was proof that your work was just about the money, might you say “huh?’ how is that logical?

      I assume that you’ve written to government telling them that their actions in education are all about money, that they don’t care about kids or teachers or parents…

      This particular blog was strictly about salary, because that’s where the disinformation is thickest. This “teachers” are greedy argument is not based on fact; it’s at the
      ” Scottish people are cheap” or “Irish people are drunks level.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lucy appears to have been educated in the BC school system … all strikes are about money. all contract negotiations are about money. Working conditions, benefits etc. All of these cost money. One side wishes to spend less, the other wishes to see more. Wages are not the only cost being negotiated.
      But in this case … please read Jim’s reply


  6. HankRK says:

    The value of any job is based on supply and demand. Not what the other guy got. If for some reason 1/2 the teachers quit tomorrow, there is a horde of young trained teachers waiting in the background to take those jobs. That is why you don’t get to compare to what other people have received.


    • jimnelson806 says:


      So because there are too many people wanting to become Firefighters ( it’s almost impossible to “get in”) or veterinarians,TV News Anchors, or weather men in Palm Springs we should slash their pay; or actors or rock stars – lots of people standing in line to take over from them – they don’t get to expect the odd raise like everyone else?

      I think what you really want to say is that you don’t think teachers jobs are important, difficult or helpful, and that anyone could do it; and you’re dead wrong there too.


      • Well said – this perpetual response is head-shakingly narrow-minded. It’s the backbone of the part-time, minimum wage service industry job-sphere. Oddly, no-one who cites this line of reaosning ever expects that their employer could do the same thing … “You don’t like it? Well, there’s a bunch of people outside who’ll be happy to replace you. Why do we care if they’re as qualified/trained/capable as you are?”


  7. I’ve been studying responses to articles on the Teacher/Government conflict from various sources, such as CBC sites, Times-Colonist, Huffington Post, etc. After a few hours compiling data, I have a few observations:

    1. The vast majority of responders to articles about this strike are male (as best I could tell, if they weren’t using pseudonyms)

    2. Typically, the for/against proportion is almost exactly 50:50

    3. The few females that did wade into the fray were also almost 50:50

    4. Pro-Government commenters were almost three times as likely to engage in Ad Hominem attacks; in fact, they were the only side observed in my (small) study to engage in outright name calling with their opponents

    I’m not drawing any conclusions. Instead, two questions:

    1. Why are so many males responding to something that most males don’t even do? The ratio of male to female teachers in Canada is about 2 female teachers for every 1 male teacher. One would assume that more females would, and should, have a strong opinion about teaching, since it is their gender that is highly represented in that field

    2. Why are pro-Government commenters engaging in more ad hominem attacks? This article’s comment section appears to be positively civil compared to some I analysed.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      David; Thanks.
      Those who spew hate at teachers are bit like the bearded prisoner in Monty Python who is chained to the wall upside down. When a new prisoner is brought in and chained to the wall right side up, he rants at him for being “a right dandy” and “jailer’s pet” The jailer comes back and spits in the new prisoner’s face,to which the upside down prisoner responds to by complaining that he never gets spit at anymore…


  8. jimnelson806 says:

    Jeez Hank; I Œm sorry I got you in such a snit.

    It¹s a completely logical assumption that anyone who can say that if teachers don¹t like their situation they can quit and let someone else take over their job, has no respect for teachers, the job they do or their professionalism ­ if they did, they wouldn¹t use that hateful argument. Please don¹t call people names ­ it¹s so unhelpful and disrespectful.


    On 2014-06-22, 1:40 PM, “Schools, Politics and Other Stuff” wrote:



  9. Dan T says:

    One of the problem is that, you are comparing jobs in the line of risking your life such as police and firefighters. As far as i know, those 2 one usuly have a very generous increase every time you have a contract settlement, moving on to other job sectors such as nurse, bus drivers, bc hydro workers. Well, if their demand is not met, then you have collapse in infrastructure. The bottom line, every PUBPLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEE SHOULD HAVE A WAGE FREEZE because their current pay is already way above the norm. And all of them, at least the regular full time and part time has very good benefit and pension, which is better than most private job there. Concurrently speaking, the politician should have a wage reduction instead because. Of bloated wage increase and perks. Before you guys said anything, i acutally work for a municipality, but i am only a auxiliary worker, meaning we have no steady hours, no benefits (we do have in lieu of 12 percent) and i would say that lots of cities do this, small proportion of full time, and rest are auxilaries to save money. I still have to work 3 different jobs in 3 differdnt cities to make $43000 a year (before tax). For the city i work for, we recently just settle a 6 percent for 3 yr contract, and the funny thing is, our old one expired in 2011 and we had no new contract for 3 years (even that, our pay is still higher compare to private one). Not everyone is the same, but i would say majoirty of bc averave family dont make more than enough as living wages, the number in stat can is flawed because its an average of large percent of low income people, and small percentage of super rich people. If everyone is getting a hair cut due to recent recession, why does public sectors not getting a hair cut in wages like everyone else?


    • jimnelson806 says:

      When I started teaching school ( a long time ago) I earned 5 to 8K more than a firefighter, policeman or nurse.Now,a beginning teacher makes 7K less than those in either profession, and at top salary, after 11 years and 7 years of university, teachers make up to twenty K less than these groups do after 4 years.

      I don’t respond by thinking firefighters,police, or nurses should “get a haircut”,they earn their salaries. Instead,I insist teachers should be better paid, as should you and all low income people you talk about.
      We shouldn’t bring higher salaried workers down and encourage a race to the bottom. Instead we should demand a move of everyone to reasonable, living wages – a race to the top.
      You say you haven’t had a raise for three years but that’s ok because some people make less than you and that everyone should take a haircut after the recession.It’s only working people that have suffered from the recession, the wealthy are doing better than ever.
      You’re fighting the wrong foe.


      • Dan T says:

        Hi Jim,

        I think there is not enough information out there to let BC taxpayers know the problem of the bigger picture here. My jobs allows me to talk to people from different walks of life (some of them are even teachers and school principals). I can’t say the same for all the teachers, but I think most of us agree that public sector wage increase is only part of the problem. (There are other ones to deal with such as bus drivers, bc hydro workers, ICBC, WorkSafeBC, heck maybe even CRA, but we will wait until they raise another headline)

        I do have a university degree that took me 5 years to finish (2 co op terms), but I didn’t go ahead and get a teaching certificate because I don’t think I will be a good teacher (not enough patience with younger generation these days). However, I still think I am reasonably lucky to have a job (or 3 jobs) and slowly paying off a mortgage in this sluggish economy (since 2008, the recession didn’t ended for the average joes out there, only enhances the wealth of super riches, and politicians)

        One of the issue with cities (local government) is that they keep on comparing wages to other cities, so when one raises the bar, they all raise the bar. I am sure you are aware that there are over 100 staffs in City of Coquitlam that are making over $100k a year, and I don’t think all of them has a master degree (seniority has a lot to do here, and of course, routine contract raises, but at least we have 4 step increase, which I think teachers have 10 steps but correct me if I am wrong) Same thing here, when one union gets a raise, everyone want a raise to be a norm (and after 3 years, that newly negotiated NORM become substandard). Have you heard the effect of doubling? you take number 70, and divide the percentage = the number of years it takes for that original number to double (so in 20 years, we should see teachers with BSc earn over 100k a year too). Also, a 2 percent increase for a $40k job (new teachers), is very different compare to 2 percent increase for a $100k job (older teachers, with master degree).

        I have a news paper article here by a grade 11 student that write in the editorial section, said that how do you hire new teachers, when you paid the older ones so much, and there isn’t that much demands in lots of districts (everyone is moving toward Langley and Surrey, because other side of Port Mann bridge cost so much to live, look at the deficit of District 43.) I immigrated from an Asian country, our class composition size used to be 30 to 35 per class, and we turn out pretty ok (of course different culture here, so don’t wanna open another can of worms here). Also, I heard, the teaching position is given to teachers by seniority, but not by performance of the teachers (I heard some stories about teachers not doing their work properly, and its mostly from parents themselves). I would rather not fire anyone, and have a slight reduction on the wage of the current teachers so we can KEEP all the current teachers. On top of that, we also need to get the government to keep the funding per student the same, not one thousand dollar less than other Provinces. Don’t compare to Alberta since they have surpluses due to oil industry, they can pay more money to keep the teachers there since there might be occasional flooding, wild fires, way colder temp to contend with.

        This is just my own opinion and observations, public sector works, the government, and mega corporations (super riches) all have faults of their own (and I am targeting them all). The dispute with BCTF is just one small part of the problem that we have to tackle. As for political parties, you really have no other choices beside the common three (just like your cellphone providers), you just choose the what seems to be lesser evil ones. If you don’t buy and use the services of big corporations, they will eventually die out. But nowadays, no one wants to give up their Iphones with data plan and Star Bucks / Timmy wake them up (one of my client has a saying, if you don’t need it to live, give it up).

        Lastly, I actually consider my pay to be quite good (despite having to cross Port Mann bridge 10 times a week) and no benefits (I have to pay for my own MSP, dental work, and medical prescription for past 5 years. I actually don’t think we need a wage increase at all so we can save tax payers some money (like I mentioned before, we are already paid higher compare to most BC people out there). Believe it or not, city auxiliary jobs have high turn over rate too, due to their habit of hiring auxiliary workers, and that high turn over actually cost them more money than hiring few stable full / part time ones.

        Perhaps we need to have a Ministry of Common Sense that address the issues of every sectors out there, public, government, private corporation, so everyone get fair share of pie (or hair cut).


        Dan T
        High school grad of district 43, 2001, and after 6 years of working in the real world, manage to get to $43000 but subject to change anytime. (who still pay property tax that fund school in the system even though I don’t go to school anymore and have no kids (can’t afford to have them).


  10. Kevin says:

    You are comparing municipal gov’t settlements to provincial gov’t settlements. That is not what the statement “ Teacher’s salary demands are much higher than what other public sector unions settled for.” is saying. If I was to ask you who is the premier of the province you would say it was Christie Clark. You would not name a premier of any other province as there is a built-in assumption that the question is in reference to this province. The same thing applies to asking an American who is the President (they would say Obama in spite of not having been told which country you are referring to), or asking a Canadian who is the Prime Minister (they would say Harper as the built-in assumption is that you are referring to the Canadian Prime Minister). This built-in assumption is based on the idea that the question is always based on the linked characteristic – in the above cases it is the country or the province. This built-in assumption also applies to the statement, “ Teacher’s salary demands are much higher than what other public sector unions settled for. ” The built-in assumption is that the statement is referring to other public sector unions that the provincial gov’t has negotiated with.

    Your decision to interpret it otherwise really impacts your credibility. I believe the teachers have a very strong case. Unfortunately arguments such as the one you have presented really detract from the strength of their case. In spite of what the words technically mean, the built-in assumption is obvious to anyone.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      The blog’s a simple one Kevin. It just says that the idea that “there’s no money ” for public sector salaries is only true in one ballpark – the ballpark with little regard for public education; the ballpark that has given away billions in tax revenues that could easily have funded public priorities like health care and education long into the future.

      The blog merely compares public sector settlements of groups that don’t have the misfortune of dealing with the priorities of the provincial government. It just says that cities understand and care what the CPI is, as does the federal government occasionally, and even the oft cited private sector.

      The blog isn’t trying to pull anything over on you. It’s up front, true and undeniable.

      The blog actually cries out for what you request – an apples to apples comparison. If B.C. government negotiators compared their BC government workers salary cuts to the settlements of the world outside their austerity bubble,there might be a chance they could see past Christy’s anti teacher vendetta.

      The blog not only admits to cherry picking statistics to make a point, it clearly lists what other B.C. government employes salary cuts were and how big a salary cut is being offered to B.C’s public school teachers.

      If we’re going to cherry pick , it’s not just an amoral government who’s allowed to do so.



      • Kevin says:

        Perhaps I misunderstood what you said in the blog. Your opening line in your original post is, “Everyone has to immediately stop saying, ‘Teacher’s salary demands are much higher than what other public sector unions settled for’. Because that’s not true.” You noted some pay raises for firefighters and police and stated, “Firefighting and police are public sector unions.” I thought it was quite clear that you were using the police and firefighter contracts as evidence that there is money in the public sector.

        Now you are saying, “The blog merely compares public sector settlements of groups that don’t have the misfortune of dealing with the priorities of the provincial government.” That does not seem to be in accord with your original blog.

        The only point that I have made, and continue to assert, is that by referring to contracts with Municipalities you are comparing settlements between two different employers. Such comparisons take away from your argument. I am not questioning the strength of the teachers’ case, the court decisions that have supported the teachers’ case, the brunt of cutbacks borne by the teachers etc . I am not saying you didn’t include other appropriate comparisons later in the blog. My point is simply that one must compare apples to apples. Comparing Municipal to Provincial settlements is not apples to apples.


      • jimnelson806 says:

        Thanks Kevin, for taking the time to explain your position without rancour. Believe me, after the unsubstantiated name calling I’ve seen, it’s refreshing.

        I understand your argument. You’re saying that we should only talk about the public sector unions that are employed by the provincial government, otherwise the comparison is not apples to apples, and if I’m not comparing apples to apples, the argument is weakened.

        I disagree with your argument, and that’s the point of the blog , which you may dismiss if you choose.

        The provincial government,along with a lazy media, continuously, hourly,loudly, characterizes the teachers salary requests as far too rich, compared to the settlements of other public sector unions.
        That statement is just not true.As I point out,

        all other public sector unions are getting reasonable increases, except for those negotiating with the B.C. government.That distinction is never made, by media , blogger, or teacher bashers ( I’m not accusing you of being one)

        I hope you’re insisting equally as vociferously that the B.C. government should be required to say that they are the only Canadian government offering salary cuts to their public sector workers – six years of salary cuts on top of the previous four.

        If anyone ever said that in continuous sound loops for a while,it would not be necessary for anyone to highlight other apples that are not being bruised and generally punished.


  11. Dan T says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I only have municipal government settlement data to based on, because the information was distributed to us by our unions. Frankly, when they post the proposed increases and changes, I think some of them is quite high and I don’t think the management would have agree to some of the terms (but they actually went through).

    In any case, I don’t really have any problem with the increase for cost of living index for teachers. It’s their salary starting point , and the assumptions are based either the data I have found on the internet, or just from other people verbally. But the truth is, many people out there has the same assumption as I am, as far as the one I talked to. Whether or not its instigated by the ads made by the Liberals, or from parents who had bad experience (and good experience) with teachers for their kids, or any other sources, or teachers that I have talked to personally.

    As I posted in my previous reply to Jim, I learn new things when people convey new information to me, and trying to find them on my own just become a world of maze. You try to find things in a small maze, and you end up finding the entrance to a bigger maze here. Obviously, the information I am looking are either from the news clippings, online blogs, that tend to be biased to one side or the other. So far, the negative sides are leaning more toward the teachers, sure lots are also on the government too, but that’s the vibe I am getting here.

    I am about fair to anyone as it get, but I be lying if I said that I am not biased at certain things, what it comes to that many of British Columbias out there did not recover from the 2008 recessions, and our wages have dip down (it went down, and flat, and now gone back again pre recession level and then flat lined), for past couple of years as a result of that. So if everyone is getting a hair cut (here we are again) especially BC is cutting out all those Energy or Mineral development plan that could increase our provinces revenues (the joy of balancing economy policy with environmental policy).

    All in all, the hard truth comes down to….here is my paycheque after hard day of work. So why does other public sector get to paid more and all they want to do is strike to make their salary increase more every year (as I said again, its not just the teachers). When I am sitting here paying my taxes, while having no benefits or other perks that public sectors have? My salary certainly hasn’t gone up for past couple of years, and they went up because I worked more jobs to make up the hours (and for those 2 statements apply to ALOT of people). I have a university degree too, but that doesn’t entitle me to a job that will eventually give me a $65k job a year, with $20k of benefits and pension build in. Granted, teaching 20 to 25 kids is a lot of work, and thats why I am ok with think their current salary, but asking for higher percentage plus reduce class composition size sounds like double dipping to me. How about, hire more teachers, and keep increases with 1.5 percent a year so we can all reduce our stress levels. I also want to blame the government too because they are one of the primary issue why this happened in the first place, but the math and political nonsense are just too much to deal with at the moment.

    The thing I am asking for is a clear picture, list everything loud and clear, from both sides, list out pros and cons of each, AND how much is that going to cost us for the return on our investment (you can’t really say education is important when many of the university students have low job prospect by the time they graduate, that tend to have a chilling effect on university registrations).

    Then let everyone decide whether that’s fair or not.


    • Kevin says:

      “I only have municipal government settlement data to based on, because the information was distributed to us by our unions.”

      It is irrelevant what information the union sent you. Comparing apples to oranges is still wrong. It detracts form your argument and from theirs.


      • Dan T says:

        Hi Kevin

        I respect both your and Jim input, but if you actually read this far. Then please note that, Majority of BC residents are not even apples and oranges, we make more like peanuts. So making a statement comparing to someone that has a bigger wage and benefits which should be reigned in LONG time ago is not very well received at best. BCTF should inform us why the wage increase is justified in a credible and simple form (letters, newspaper, pamphlet, whatever you want), not mini skirmishes on TV or radio.

        Public unions, municipalities, and federal government always has that stigma towards them because of the higher wages and benefits that come with the job, It doesn’t matter to many average BC residents out there because that’s their assumption why a high paying position is asking for more every 3 years. It detracts people from seeking the truth (unless people like Jim do research and openly provide reasoning for each point that reach out maybe like 10 percent of people at best), which most us won’t because the information is sporadic at best, and takes too much time to look into.

        I think at this point, if Jim can debunk some of the “facts” and post it somewhere on his website in bullet forms, and it can be supported by BCTF and agree on. I would have more faith to support BCTF (or teachers, but I am just getting a vibe that its 2 separate entities here) because I know that only people who are debating on this blog now that might have cared for a few weeks, and forget about it in couple months or so. While majority of BC residents who were supposed to be the ones in this that has a bigger say in this dispute.


      • jimnelson806 says:

        HI Dan; Thanks for taking the time to actually think about this situation; most people just vent against something they don¹t know much about.

        Here¹s some bullets for you, as requested;

        * The government is offering teachers a 6 year contract of annual salary cuts that is, less than the projected cost of living .This, after teachers have already had 3 years of zero % , six years of zero % in the last 14 years, and no salary increase that meets the rise in the cost of living since 2002.

        * Our firefighters and police recently received twice what the teachers are asking; 8.8% over 3 years. They deserve the raise, but compare the difference in public fuss…

        * Even so, the teachers are asking for a smaller pay cut- 8% over 5 years; less than the cost of the projected cost of living­ increase.

        * Negotiations weren’t going too badly between teachers and BCPSEA, until the government dismissed the BCPSEA negotiating team ,replacing them with Peter Cameron, who they gave a “net zero” mandate. He has, through 76 meetings, said “net zero” in response to everything. There is, and has been little negotiation in this dispute.Negotiation means discussing possible compromise.

        * The government says it has compromised;that they have ³moved² considerably during negotiations. Here¹s a summary of the “movement” the government claims:

        Reduced contract length

        – from 10 years of annual salary cuts to only six years of annual salary cuts. Government negotiator Peter Cameron says they have brought more salary money to the table.They have, but actually, they reduced their salary offer to teachers from 7.3% to 7% over six years. The B.C.T.F says the government reduced their salary offer.

        How can one side claim the salary offer was increased while the other side says it was reduced?

        Well, the original 7.3% salary offer included 6.5% of actual, new money ,and 1.3% which school districts would have to pay out of existing budgets; effectively cutting local funding by 1.3% each year for the term of the contract. The union said they didn¹t want a salary increase on the backs of students and school districts so Peter Cameron said ,” Oh, OK, we¹ll remove the part the districts would have to pay and instead offer 7% , 1/2% more “new money” than before, but .3% less than the original salary offer to teachers.

        Because originally the “new money” offered was 6.5% and is now 7%, Mr. Cameron quite correctly said they had increased their salary offer.

        The B.C.T.F. had originally been offered a 7.3% raise and now, the offer is 7% , .3%.less. The BCTF quite correctly com[lained that the government had reduced its salary offer.

        It¹s complicated , and most people aren¹t willing to listen to that much detail. ­

        So,imperceptible government movement on salary.

        signing bonus of $1200 per teacher.

        This was offered from the start and isn’t movement. The signing bonus was borrowed from 2006 Labour Minister Carol Taylor¹s successful Olympic negotiation with teachers. The difference was that Ms. Taylor offered $4000 plus per teacher , a significant amount. In addition, the salary increase offered was close to the CPI for the five year contract life. Also, the government engaged in real negotiations with teachers.

        Not coincidentally, this was when Christy Clark was taking a sabbatical as a CKNW talk show host ­ There hasn’t been any meaningful negotiations with teachers at any time Christy Clark has been in government, as Minister of Education or Premier.

        No government movement on signing bonuses.

        Learning Improvement Fund

        Not a change, and arguably, the unkindest cut of all.

        The Learning Improvement Fund is proposed to be 165 million dollars over three year,purportedly to address class size and composition concerns.The class size and composition money removed from public education budgets was by government estimate, 275 million per year, or 3.750 billion dollars over 13 years. 165 million is inadequate on an annual basis, let alone spread over three years.It’s also over three billion dollars short of class size and composition money lost to education since 2002.

        Aside from not covering the money lost since the 2002 contract stripping, 165 million over three years won’t even cover the 300 million dollars in additional annual cuts to school districts,that will be a direct result of their first time freeze on education funding for 2014 -­ 2016.

        That¹s 300 million dollars in cuts each year for three years, in addition to the regular annual cuts and cost downloads that Public Schools face annually.

        And who will control the fund? School districts? No. The fund would be controlled by a committee of government representatives, parents reps, CUPE reps, and educators. 20% control of allocation of funds has been promised to CUPE ,who represents Special Education Assistants that help in classrooms; and they need more funding.

        The level of the “Learning Improvement Fund’s” paltriness might be compared to offering some duct tape to repair the Patullo bridge. Well, not actually. It would be more parallel if the government was solely and completely responsible for the deterioration of the Patullo Bridge in the first place.

        There has been almost no government movement towards or even acknowledging, restoration of class size and composition levels previously taken from the public education budget.

        In short, little government movement at all. Little bargaining at all.

        Here’s a summary of the teachers movement:


        They¹re down to 8% over 5 years, from 15% over five years with annual cost of living stipends. They have given up any thought of ³catch up² this time around.

        Class Size and Composition

        Teachers suggest that the 225 million of the 275 million stripped in the 2002 , be applied to education budgets annually, to address class size and composition, until the government¹s ³appeal² can be heard for a third and perhaps fourth time. That’s 50 million less than government estimates of the money saved since 2002. Teachers knew the government estimate was high ,in order to increase the cost of restoring the 2002 contract.

        This is a huge downward move from the original request that the government restore all the money the government has removed from the education system since 2002 and have been twice instructed to restore.


        Increased massage therapy and days off to care for sick friends are a good idea, as are a few ³ discretionary days² per year, to cover miscellaneous tragedies,personal difficulties, etc. These benefits are plastered all over the media and social media as country club demands, costs added to salary demands, taking the contract out of the ³affordability zone² that someone drew up recently. If the government offered no improvement in benefits and offered 8% salary increase over 5 years and some acknowledgement of s responsibility to address class size and composition, teachers would take it -­the government knows this.

        The BCTF has basically capitulated. T­he government just can¹t take yes for an answer; they want to break this union, de-value public schools, and punish teachers.

        * Government funding of private schools has increased at three times the rate of public school funding since 2005.
        * private school attendance is up from 4% to 12% since 2000.

        Dan, it¹s war on public education, make no mistake. The talk about how awful BC classroom composition is; 2 or 3 autistic kids per class, three or four non- english speakers, two or three ADHD and behaviour disordered students; all this greases the skids to help convince parents to choose private schooling options.

        That¹s the real goal, and the longer they discredit public schools and teachers, the more this will happen, until public schools have no one left to defend them.

        It¹s well proven and documented that three things work in promoting excellent public education. This is the Finnish model that by international consensus, has the best school system in the world.What has worked for Finland is:

        1) equity of opportunity ­ no public funding for elite schools ,back to basics schools, or religious schools.
        2) A well trained , well respected, and well compensated teaching force.
        3) Professional autonomy for educators,with local rather than standardized assessment; with necessary system oversight performed by experts in education rather than politicians with other priorities.

        We know this works, and that it is not more costly than our current model.

        We are not experts on teaching and schools just because we each had some teachers when we were young and didn¹t know what was involved in teaching children. The biggest problem we have in education in BC is a lack of respect for the professionalism and expertise required to be a teacher.

        It¹s a very difficult and complex occupation , with real skills, experiences and expertise that are long learned . From my experience, it takes teachers around 7 ­to 10 years to hone their craft and be at the top of their game. When they¹re at that peak, they are incredibly valuable, to our children and our country. We continue to denigrate them at our peril.

        Our public school system can follow one of two paths. We can go the way of Finland or we can follow the lead of the U.S. Right now, we¹re choosing the U.S. path: underfund, vilify, demoralize the public system,and drive people to private schools. The consequences of this path are significant.

        It’s not a fluke that many Americans know little about the world,climate change,Geography, international movements and even science.

        We know how this strategy turns out. In the U.S. it has ended with a dismantled public education system to the point that it¹s one of the most ineffective school systems in the world, a system almost beyond repair.


        On 2014-07-09, 12:30 AM, “Schools, Politics and Other Stuff” wrote:



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