New Rule #4 in the Teacher’s Bargaining Dispute
When discussing B.C.’s education strike, everyone must stop referring to the “affordability zone.”
The “affordability zone”, touted as a legitimate target for both sides in B.C.’s education dispute is not an immutable law of economics; it’s just a little circle, arbitrarily drawn by someone on a napkin at the Bengal Lounge in Victoria.
The “affordability zone” is whatever the government deems it to be. It’s the money that’s left for public education after the money spent on a thousand other budget priorities more important than public education. (Fill in the blanks here – stadium roof, tax breaks, M.L.A. salary increases, pushing the H.S.T., court costs…)
Had we decided in 2002 that tax cuts for the rich were outside of an hypothetical “affordability zone”, reasonable budgets for public education and teachers might have landed within a larger “affordability zone” circle on the Bengal Lounge napkin, perhaps beside some spilled Korma from the sumptuous curry bar.
The fact that government chooses to spend our tax revenues on other priorities doesn’t make funding public education outside the “affordability zone”, it makes it a “low priority.”
There is no “affordability zone.” It’s disingenuous to even mention it.
Government funding for education has been set at 0% for 2014, 2015, and 2016 (the equivalent to a 300 million dollar funding cut each year).
If that’s “affordable”, for our province,public schools,and children, we’re in big trouble.
Encouraging both sides to bargain “within the affordability zone” suggests that there is bargaining to be done once both sides get into that magical, money free zone.
It suggests that perhaps once teachers get into the “affordability zone” they might opt to bargain for even less than the government’s offer.
Feigning a sincere desire that both sides get into the “affordability zone”
is meaningless and obtuse rhetoric.
So, instead of urging “both sides” to get into the imaginary “affordability zone”, the government must more accurately describe its bargaining position;
“We sincerely hope that both sides will grow up and reach a negotiated agreement that includes a six year annual salary cut for teachers, a three year, 300 million dollar per year education funding cut, and no mention of the 3.75 billion dollars stripped from education budgets since 2002 or any and all related court judgments.”
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