Thursday, September 18, 2014

Two Votes

Two votes are happening today. First is the British Columbia Teachers voting on their contract. They have been on strike since school was supposed to open and facing opposition at every step by our government which has refused to honor court decisions and negotiated contracts. They are impossible to deal with and cannot be trusted to stand by any agreement they make. Mediator Vince Ready (an old friend) has managed to get a tentative 6 year agreement that both parties have agreed to. It includes a 7.2% wage increase over 6 years but does not satisfactorily address the two most important issues, class composition and class size. The Government has kicked a few million into the system, but only the money they have saved by not paying wages over the duration of the strike. If I were a teacher, I would vote NO, but I have always voted no on every proposed contract that has included me. If the negotiating team has done badly, I think they could have done better. It they did good, I think they could have done better. Simple.

The other Vote taking place today is the Scottish vote for Independence from England. The Scots have received very bad treatment from England over the centuries and I am hoping they finally sever the remaining ties and vote for independence. They deserve to have the opportunity to chart their own course.


10 comments:

  1. Hey Croft, you present your side of the issue but the strike; the teachers' demands and the government's desire to keep from raising taxes adds to the complexity that teachers and government faced. And let us not forget the taxpayer.

    One fact is that the roughly $10,000 wages lost by each teacher will never, ever be regained. It is lost forever. Inflation will eat up any increases in wages.

    I may not be a fan of our Premier and her minister responsible for education but, at the very least, the tax payer felt some sense of better governance than we've faced in previous situations. And a negotiated settlement trumps any forced legislative back to work order or a binding arbitration settlement. We've learned from previous binding arbitrations how the taxpaying public is left with a huge tax increase. I refer to the recent binding arbitration afforded the doctors.

    Negotiated is still a better deal that no deal. Had the teachers not settled, they would have been legislated back to work.

    I merely presenting another side to the story! No offense intended.

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    1. Rene', quality education is something we will always have to pay for. Taxes can be saved in many ways but not by going cheap on education. Teachers wages were never an issue in this dispute, both sides were within about a half a percent in their demands and offers right from the start. The main issues were getting back what the teachers sucessfully negotiated years ago and what was legislated away from them.

      As far as never getting back what you lose in wages during a strike, I always considered the amount of self respect I gained by standing up against tyranny was worth more than what I lost in wages, plus the fact that I got all that time off work and was reimbursed slightly by the strike fund payments which are a sort of insurance policy I paid into while I worked. One strike back in the 60's we were off for several weeks but we won our Pension Plan which has paid me hundreds of times more that what I lost in wages while I was out fighting for it. Those "lost" wages were a very cheap investment that is paying off in spades now.

      I strongly agree with you that a negotiated settlement is always better than a legislated one or even an arbitrated one. That has always been my position. As long as the government does not take away their weapons, workers will always represent themselves strongly.

      No offence taken and I never mean any offence when putting forth my opinions.

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  2. Rene has a point, two sides to every pancake.

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    1. Maybe even three sides. Lets not forget the demands of he parents lamenting the loss of their taxpayer funded daycare in the form of school teachers. You may have figured out that I disagree with this as well. The system is there to educate kids, not make life easier for parents.

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  3. You might enjoy John Oliver's take on the Scottish vote - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YkLPxQp_y0 .

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    1. I finally got a chance to watch it. Great!

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  4. As you may know, my wife retired last year after 30 years teaching. While she wasn't active in negotiations, she was certainly glad to be represented by the union. In the 30 years she taught there never was a need for a strike. Her salary was by no means "wealthy", however she didn't teach necessarily for the salary. Our daughter is also a teacher.

    I'm biased, but I think teachers, who are responsible for not only "teaching", but also responsible for the care of children, earn every bit that they are paid.

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    1. We need highly trained, well reimbursed teachers who are given the tools, respect and trust necessary to do their jobs.

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  5. Now that the teacher's have accepted the new contract I hope this will be remembered not as the Teacher Strike but rather the Christy Clark strike! The Premier set out to break the BCTF because she's lost in the court's over her unlawful tearing up of the teacher's Collective Agreement in 2002.

    The only saving grace of this contract is that the pending court case is still ongoing. You're right about the 2 sides only being 1 percent apart on wages from the beginning. That was one of the biggest lies the government got away with during the negotiations as they continued to say, and the press dutifully reported, that the teachers were demanding 13% or more. How does this happen?

    The fight for quality public education in Canada is every bit as important as the fight for quality health care. A lot of folks don't see it that way which is a mystery to me as they all have children and grandchildren who they want to see both healthy and well educated.

    As for losing money during a strike? I've been there and like I was told, and believe, it doesn't matter as what's really important is the future. Like you said so well - it's simply an investment knowing that those that follow will hopefully do the same - always move forward!!

    Scots are a stubborn bunch - I know as I grew up in a family of them. The failed referendum is just another battle but the war will go on!

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    1. It is unfortunate that we have a government that cannot be trusted to honor a deal they make or to follow a court decision.

      We were lucky back in the day when people had honor in these situations. I can't count the number of times I have made an agreement with BC Tel management that ended with a simple handshake and no written documentation. Back then we both knew that the others' word was their bond. Now, you shake hands with the government or the bosses, you had better count your fingers and check for your watch after.

      With Scotland, I have no dog in the fight but I am disappointed in the outcome. The Scottish people and their resources will continue to be taken advantage of by England. However, like you say, there are more rounds in this fight to come.

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