--> Getting It Right: Will Teachers Get Their Bonus?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Will Teachers Get Their Bonus?

The teachers have eight days left to get the signing bonus doled out to the rest of the public service employees in BC.

It looking increasingly likely that isn’t going to happen.

Teachers and their employers, the BC Public School Employers Association, have never reached a negotiated settlement and there is nothing to indicate that this year’s talks are going to end any differently.

That’s right. They have never reached a settlement. The terms of their contracts have always been imposed by the Provincial Government.

Can you imagine a situation in your workplace where you and your boss are so far apart on deciding your salary that an outside body needs to come in and tell you what you are going to make – not just once but each and every year?

Right now the teachers are asking for 19% over three years, down slightly from their opening position of 24%. Yes, that is as rich as it sounds, especially compared to other public sector settlements this spring.

The employers are offering 10% over four years. If they can come to agreement by the end of the month, teachers also get the extra $3000 and change signing bonus.

You can see from the numbers that these two groups aren’t even in the same building, much less at the same table.

And, worst of all, we are exactly where we were nine months ago when the Provincial Government ordered the teachers back to work.

The hope was that through the fall, winter and spring the Province, employers and teachers would be able to get together and hammer out a new model of cooperation.

To some extent, it has worked. Class sizes, the stated reason for last fall’s job action, haven’t been an issue for the teachers this time around.

Of course, the BCTF has a responsibility to its members to push for the best settlement that it can get. In the same fashion, the employers have the responsibility to sign a contract that is financially sustainable for the long term – and not just buy peace for a couple of years.

The challenge – to find common ground.

Teachers argue that they are underpaid compared to other jurisdictions. That may very well be true.

But if that were a reason to strike, British Columbia’s 79 MLAs should have taken job action years ago. BC MLAs make less than their counterparts in five jurisdictions, include Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. I don’t see anyone crying for them.

Both sides need to figure this out, within the framework of the other negotiated public sector settlements. The teachers decided to become part of the public sector union structure and that means falling in line with other public sector workers. It’s only fair.

Otherwise there will be a further erosion of support for teachers, a great and honourable profession providing amazing work to our most important citizens – the future.

(As Seen Today in 24 Hours)


At 12:29 p.m., Anonymous Sean P., Vancouver-Quilchena/Quadra said...

I doubt that common ground will be found, yet once again.

The new contract will most likely be imposed, just as it was in the past......with both New Democratic Party and BC Liberal governments.....Since the NDP centralized contract negotiations, things have not improved like it was supposed to.

...with David Chudnovsky being an elected Opposition MLA, I thought that these talks would go a lot smoother.....But the BCTF and the BCSTA (largely the former, not the latter) are to stubborn to properly negotiate a settlement to anything, let alone a CBA.

At 12:44 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be going to school to get my Education degree next year.

Note to self: don't teach in BC.

With any luck I'll be able to break the teachers union in Alberta.

At 1:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how much
the teachers make per year.
I'd like to see 10 examples
on a scale.
What training is required?
How much time off?

Of course none of these questions
would ever come up,
the original article would not even be
written, if we just
had a Laissez-Faire Free Enterprise System in education.
You want some donuts?
Then go buy them with your own money and eat them.
Another person likes organic salad?
Then go buy it with your own money
and eat it.
No "taxpayers" need to be involved.

The standard of education would be ten times better by now
if we had a system based on freedom and not socialism.


At 5:39 p.m., Blogger Josef said...

CTF Brigadier General Sara MacIntyre speaks out about this, too...

At 5:44 p.m., Blogger Josef said...

Sara MacIntyre also has this ad running around in the event it becomes necessary...
(Sarcasm off)

At 6:50 p.m., Blogger Walter Schultz said...

The BC Government set aside 50% of all it's projected future surpluses over the next 4 years to settle Public Sector Union wage settlements.

"VICTORIA – A new negotiating framework, supported by a $5.7-billion multi-year funding envelope, will guide public sector compensation agreements through 2009/10, announced Finance Minister Carole Taylor."

The BCTF's current outrageous contract demands will cost BC Taxpayers $2 Billion over 3 years or more than 1/3 of the total budget for Public Sector wage settlements.

The BCTF's demands are both outrageous and greedy.

At 11:08 p.m., Blogger opinionater777 said...

First of all, having been in a classroom of 30+ through the Education Assistant program practicums I can understand where the teachers are coming from in terms of classroom conditions. However I would have a little more respect if the first thing out of teachers mouths wasn't always money, money, money.

At 12:26 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one ad-hominem,
zero refutes.

The penalty for a personal
attack is that Erin
removes the ENTIRE post.


At 1:17 a.m., Anonymous Larry said...

The BC Government is working for the tax payer whereas the BCTF is working for power and the best deal they can get for the teachers. These days teachers complain too much. The sport activities they do as coaches ect., they'd have to pay for at the private sector. Garbage men and janitors work harder than teachers-they don't get recognition.Also the BCTF and many of the teachers now are too darn much into social engineering-leftwing style of course.

At 10:37 a.m., Blogger Erin Airton said...

Adrian -

Sorry, I did have to remove your post, even if I did agree with the comments.

Can you repost without the offending comment? :)

Best - Erin

At 2:33 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truth is that unions are essentially parasitic organizations that thrive only by draining and ultimately destroying the companies and industries they control. The essential goal of the unions is to compel the payment of higher wages for the performance of less work and less productive work. Unions are notorious for their hostility to labor saving machinery and to any form of competition among workers, for featherbedding practices, indeed, for “making work” by deliberately and arbitrarily increasing the number of workers required to accomplish a given task and sometimes even by compelling the disassembly or destruction of products already produced.
Read the rest of the article here:


At 4:52 p.m., Anonymous Adrian MacNair said...

I don't remember what I wrote. I would have approved editing of the comment to remove the "ad hominen".

Here's something that isn't ad hominen. Bernies suggestion that we all live in some kind of nihilistic anarchy because taxes are too high is just about the most ridiculous, nonsensical, incoherent argument ever made in the entirety of human history. But that's just an opinion. Nothing personal there, Bern.

At 5:06 p.m., Anonymous Adrian MacNair said...

You know what? I think maybe that I've been overly hostile lately, and while I disagree with what Bernie wrote, I apologize for implying it was a genetic defect.

On the topic of teachers, I'll sum up:

Lower taxes for public servants but do not increase wages. Public servants are paid far more than they should, but they are taxed far more as well. Instead of giving them more, let them take home more to their families.

At 7:04 p.m., Blogger Josef said...

Adrian - I think that last idea of lowering taxes on public servants makes sense and may deaden the load on the rest of taxpayers as well. And make public service more attractive.

At 12:27 a.m., Blogger YVRpilot said...

I like to think that a 'happier' teacher will be able to provide my children a better education.

What I'd be really interested in knowing (if I could tell the future), is what would the BCTF demand three years from now if the BC Government gives them their 19% wage increase.

I don't agree with Mr. Schultz. Would you rather see your kids getting a better education in East Vancouver or would you rather see that money being spent on a new school?

Bernie, you shouldn't generalize. How would you like to lose your full time job to only be replaced by four part time workers? If you believe this is fair practice for a company that earns at least a half a billion dollars a year in net revenue, then you ought to give your head a shake. (And yes, I do know of such companies) Bottom line is - not all unions are as you depict them to be.

At 8:41 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

No way should the teachers get the bonus if they miss the deadline. To do so would make all the other unions that settled on time VERY upset I'm sure!

At 7:53 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

How public education cripples our kids, and why

I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.


At 10:29 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the deal just got a little sweeter... $3700 bucks now. Can you say "lets make a deal"??? =)

At 10:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

BC MLA's may be ***underpaid*** in comparison to other provinces, but didn't they get a 15 to 20 per cent raise last year???

At 3:54 p.m., Blogger YVRpilot said...

A friend of mine just emailed me this...


Dear Sir/Madame:

After considering the BCTF/BCPSEA contract negotiations as of June 28. 2006 I must say I am deeply disappointed. As a teacher/business owner I am amazed at the shear rhetoric and nonsense that is circulating in the media. The government ads indicating the raises for teachers are fair and reasonable are simply not true.

I will, at the outset, say that I am a math/business education teacher for the Abbotsford School Board. I also own a small business. So don’t get me wrong I am all for free enterprise. In fact, every year I attend Michael Campbell’s Financial Outlook Conference in downtown Vancouver. I enjoy listening to various analysts speak on a variety of economic issues. At the conference this year I listened to Dunnery Best a former CFA for CIBC Wood Gundy. At this conference he indicated to the audience that inflation is running far greater than the current CPI indicates. While the Canadian CPI is officially stated at around 2.8 % the reality is that inflation is running around 10 to 15% easily per year. I would agree with him.

. Please indulge me for a moment and consider my personal expenses over the past few years (these numbers are accurate and can be documented):

Property Taxes for my home (City of Abbotsford)

July 2, 2002 $2317
July 2, 2003 $2682 percentage increase over 2002 15.7%
July 2, 2004 $2960 percentage increase over 2003 10.3%

The total effect calculates to be 27.75% over two years or 13% per year.

Natural Gas bill for same amount of gas between 2005 and 2006

Feb 05 gas bill $ 85
Feb 06 gas bill $ 140 percentage increase over 2005 65%

BBQ Propane Bottle refill at the same filling station I have used for five years.

May 2003 $7.50
May 2006 $21.00 percentage increase over 2003 180% or 40.94% per year

Favorite Wendy’s Meal

April 2003 $5.49
April 2006 $7.49 percentage increase over 2003 36% or 10.91% per year

Gasoline per litre

2003 $ .79 per litre
2006 $ 1.06 per litre percentage increase over 2003 34% or 10.3% per year

These are just a few examples of my own personal expenses. Now I understand teachers have received an average increase of 1% each year over ten years. We are falling too far behind to be ignored. The way I view it, the government must awaken to the reality that many many many teachers are going to move into other positions as the economy grows stronger. I love teaching; however, the economic realities will soon force myself and many others into other occupations. I caution the BCPSEA against stating there are no teacher shortages. This teacher shortage will be chronic in a few years. The economy will naturally draw current and potential teachers into other professions. The magical hand, as Adam Smith, the popular economist so eloquently put it, will cause a balance or imbalance depending on the industry. Please learn from the Nursing shortage: In a few years the Nursing shortage will dwarf the teaching shortage. Bad publicity, lack of respect, poor wages and a lack of negotiating power will cause many to leave, that much you can count on.

As a last and parting comment I was scanning the teaching jobs available in the US. Education America has literally thousands of jobs for teachers. This is just one example that will be not only be local competition for local school boards, but inter-provincially and internationally the supply of teachers will dry up as other opportunities (teaching or otherwise) present themselves. One needs only to look at United States which ranks 17th in terms of education effectiveness worldwide.

To put in bluntly, you get what you pay for, so please stop nickel and diming this profession or you will eventually undermine our own economy. As Sherry Cooper (Chief Economist for Nesbitt Burns) has stated over and over again, a healthy economy needs a well educated and dynamic work force. Teachers are the essential building blocks towards this goal.

Wake up or face the consequences. Lets get an agreement that is realistic.


Ward Cameron
B.Com., B.Ed. M.Ed.

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