Dear Ontario Teachers

Dear colleagues,

I know I haven’t written about what you’re going through in a long time, not since the post that unexpectedly deflowered my blog three months ago. I want you to know that it’s not because I’m ignoring what’s going on; I think about it every day. (Well – and I did have that baby, too, so my daily priorities are often more nap-and-poop-related.)

I’d like to be able to say, “I wish I were there at school with you!”… but it wouldn’t be true. Not just because I’m delighting in my offspring at the moment – although that’s a big part of it.

Mostly it’s because I’ve been imagining being in your shoes right now, having to participate in work-to-rule, and I know how I’d feel. The stress would be eating away at me. Although I don’t presume to speak for you, I’m sure a lot of you must be feeling stressed.

If I were teaching with you right now, it would be a constant source of frustration and guilt to know that no matter what I did, I would be letting someone down: either the students and their families, or the union and my co-workers. That’s the reality of work-to-rule. People hate it when we disengage from extracurricular activities. It’s a tough situation to be in while trying to focus on the best ways to captivate the minds of a roomful of kids, this close to Christmas… especially if you have an overactive guilt reflex (which I do).

I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I know that if I were teaching right now, in moments of fatigue and strain, I’d second-guess myself and my situation.

There would be times when I’d see kids’ disappointed faces and think, Do I HAVE to do what my union says? Is it THAT important?

Then I would go read Bill 115, and realize that I do, because it is.

The right to organize trade unions for collective bargaining is a fundamental human right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Bill 115 says No, actually, forget rights and negotiations: YOU WILL DO AS THE MINISTER SAYS. You can produce a collective agreement identical to the one she presents, or she will “impose a collective agreement”. Seriously. How can you even call it a “collective agreement” when there is nothing collective about it, nothing agreed to? Laurel Broten, along with the Liberals and Conservatives who helped pass Bill 115, are apparently exempt from the UDHR. That is a scary precedent. If this kind of autocracy is allowed to persist, the Employment Standards Act – which applies to all working Ontarians – will be meaningless. (So if anyone reading this still thinks it’s about the money… sigh… then I’m afraid you’ve been brainwashed by McGuinty.)

Still, even knowing how regressive Bill 115 is, if I were teaching, there would be times when I would overhear parents’ understandably frustrated remarks – even comments about us holding the kids ransom, using them as pawns, depriving them – and think, Do we really have to do it this way? Is this the only option?

Then I would think of the Queen’s Park Rally for Education, and the countless other rallies organized by teachers, students, and supporters in the last several months, all of which seem to have gone unheard… I would consider all the written protests, the letters and petitions and votes that remain unacknowledged… I would keep in mind that last February at the Provincial Discussion Table, three bankruptcy lawyers represented the government and there was no actual opportunity for discussion – and that when union reps were in talks with the government last month, it was the latter who abruptly ended things. All of this tells me that work-to-rule is not the only option; but this situation calls for us to use as many options as we have. We wouldn’t be here if any of the earlier objections had prompted the government to repeal Bill 115.

Of course, parents want their kids to have everything. We want that too, obviously, which is why we do all those activities in the first place. I believe most of us would far prefer to still be doing them. But the children’s right to field trips does not trump our right to collective bargaining. So I’ve vowed to disregard words like “pawns” and “ransom” and “deprived”, because I know there is nothing malicious or underhanded about this job action. (Unless people want to direct that language at the Minister. THAT would be valid.) Also, I’m ignoring parents who say we are “not letting the students” play sports or do drama or what have you, since we have forbidden nothing. That’s Ms. Broten’s territory.

queens park rally for education
Queen’s Park Rally for Education

If I were teaching right now, there would be times when the general public opinion – the rampant vilification – would weigh on me. I might wonder, Is my union really representing my best interests? Would it be better if we just dropped it?

Then I would give my brain a shake and remind myself: no, Bill 115 is not a fight we should drop. Our union representatives are doing their job by making sure that we, the members, know this. They are also doing their job by asking for more than they actually expect to get in negotiations: that’s the nature of bargaining. They know the contract inside and out, and keep high ideals in mind. This is how, over the past several decades, they have negotiated many necessary improvements to working conditions in schools. We know the budget is tight right now, and compromising on contract points during negotiation is something we can do. Giving up the right to negotiate is NOT.

The government portrays us as unreasonable in the midst of the mess they created, despite giving us no opportunity to be reasonable. They have obscured their role in this standoff and everything that led to it, knowing that we would have to resort to measures that affect children (we’re teachers… everything we do affects children). Colleagues, I’m sorry you’re bearing the brunt of this. It is sad that the alienation strategy has indoctrinated so many people – but we don’t have to internalize it. We know we have support from each other, and from other critical thinkers, in spite of it all. We’ve all talked to parents who, despite the fallout of work-to-rule, understand and support what we’re fighting for.

If I were teaching right now, there would be times when the haters – the ones who go beyond complaining, who spit venom in the form of ignorant suppositions and really nasty language – would get to me, and I’d feel like crap. This did happen when I wrote that other post: at first, it was exciting to try enlightening some web trolls, but the vitriolic content (not to mention the effort it takes to be educative, diplomatic, and civil when responding to these people) wears a gal down after a while.

What made it worthwhile was discovering that many of you found the post encouraging at a time when you needed it. I’m very, very thankful for that.

If I find myself discouraged by the antagonism, I take a deep breath and remind myself: this viciousness has nothing to do with me, as a person. Haters will be haters. Trolls will be trolls. Some people will always be hostile to us. Some people have chips on their shoulders and feel the need to unload their bitterness on the web or in the Op-Ed section, where they can be anonymous. As teachers, we have taught kids with those kinds of anger issues, and know that they are usually in need of help.

I want to remind myself, and all of you who could also use the reminder: You are a good human. You try hard. You work hard. You teach, to the best of your ability. That is what matters.

Dear colleagues, I’ve realized something while writing this, and you probably have as well: in spirit, I am there with you. This mess sucks, and it’s obviously far from over, but I’m with you for as long as it takes. Good luck, and bon courage. And happy holidays.

***

A NOTICE TO POTENTIAL COMMENTERS:

This not a news source. It is a personal blog, written by a teacher. Please don’t expect it to be unbiased.

You are most welcome to leave comments. Mature discussion is great.

Please be aware, however, that if you use inflammatory language and/or make arguments based on wrong assumptions or inanities (especially if they demonstrate that you have skimmed this post, seen that it’s pro-teacher, and decided to rant irrelevantly), I’ll delete your comment. I’ve already taken too much time to respond to people like you over here, and I’m done. I have a baby to feed.

***


 

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34 thoughts on “Dear Ontario Teachers

  1. Ummm what about all the non unionized public sector workers? says:

    You should have made a post called 12am 12/12/12. Still have one more chance at noon! Will be the last time in a long time (89 years to be exact) and I see you did it last year at 11/11/11 🙂

    I don’t know what constitutes inflammatory etc. but it is certainly possible to think critically and not support the posted position. On the one hand you say commenters may not make unfair assumptions or say something irrelevant if they would like their comment to be posted but then go on to say “don’t expect me to be unbiased on my blog” and make the same unfair assumptions about those who don’t agree with you (i.e. they are not critical thinkers). If you want only those who agree with you to comment, it might be just clearer to say that.

    But if there is room for mature discussion I would like to point out that there are several essential service union contracts that don’t have the power to walk off their jobs and do successfully undergo collective bargaining: nurses, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers are among the more well-known organized groups in this position. I am not sure why it hasn’t concerned people (teachers included) in the past that we have allowed these other groups held in such highly esteemed positions to have their democratic and human rights violated if the claim is that they are being violated. How has this come to be?

    If we are all to truly think critically I would be moving beyond the right to strike. I would be asking: how can we protect our rights while recognizing the absolute critical importance of our jobs? Teaching deserves to be an essential service. It IS that important. Having said that, you do have the right to bargain for things just as other essential service employees do. So how do you get to where they are?

    You say that the government has put unions into a position where you have no choice but to take things away from students. But you do have choices. Bill 115 is not really setting new precedent. It is just being marketed that way. Many other services have had their right to walk off the job taken away decades ago. Many never had it to start with. There are other ways to get what you feel you need…IF you wish to think critically. I think it is time unions thought about how you can work “with” rather than against. Unions depend on controversy and discontent between employer and employee for their survival. Your futures with your employers don’t have to and frankly shouldn’t. You talked about stress in response to one of my posts. What is happening to you right now IS stressful. It may work for unions but you have to truly ask yourselves: is this working for you? Are you absolutely SURE it’s worth it? Is there really no other way or just no other way your union wants to frame it?

    I don’t know if the anonymous shout out was for me or for other naysayers but I can assure you my posts on the Metro Morning web site and others have been far from shielded in anonymity. I am happy to provide my name if it would make others feel more comfortable but not providing a name seemed to be a precedent others had set long before I found this blog. I am not trying to troll or think uncritically or be unfairly inflammatory or make unreasonable assumptions. I am speaking from how I see things and trying to vocalize a side to anyone who will listen; I feel teachers need to see beneath the poor antagonistic behaviour of nonsupporters of the current job actions and see that many have deeper and actually valid reasons for their discontent. You dismiss them all as misunderstanding/trolls/etc. I don’t dismiss all your arguments as invalid. Critical thinking DOES mean some objectivity and balance. And a quest to understand both sides and find truth in the middle.

    I do hope for resolution. I do also hope teachers will think about others besides their own needs/rights when considering their choices. I hope, most of all, that THEY will think critically about the roles they play themselves as pawns. Truly ask themselves if their unions are really putting THEM first. I can’t help but wonder if Bill 115 would ever even have been tabled in the first place if Unions had done a better job at negotiating earlier this past summer. It didn’t materialize out of thin air – these things never do. What role did Unions play in getting Bill 115 on the playing field? There’s a question that goes a lot further back than this summer (I am guessing).

  2. Krista says:

    To the commenter above: Bill 115 interferes specifically in the collective bargaining rights of teachers. The government said, last February, that we could agree to what they were offering or they would legislate it. That’s not bargaining. We didn’t agree. They legislated it. Other essential service groups who don’t get to strike through a full withdrawal of services still get to bargain collectively with their employers. If Bill 115 is not repealed and the government continues to trample our rights to collectively bargain with our employers (that would be the school boards, not the provincial government), then I would fully expect those other public sector workers to come under attack next. We are the thin edge of the sword; everything we do impacts kids in some way so it’s easy to vilify us. The Liberals seemed to think so when they insisted on pushing through this bill (with help from the Conservatives) in order to make sure that the school year started without disruption. Of course they did that a full week after school had already started, after a summer where not one of the teachers’ unions threatened any disruption. By standing up against this bill, we are standing up for all working Ontarians and our democratic rights. And when I say we, I mean we. We are the Union. Our leaders are elected. We have had all member votes with record turnouts and decisive mandates. The implication from some media outlets that the “union bosses” are ordering around a bunch of helpless members is so far from the truth. I will be a strike captain when my Local pickets on Friday. Do I wish we didn’t have to strike? Absolutely. I’d like nothing more than to have my Charter rights, and those of my colleagues, intact. I’d love to know that after a few more months of local collective bargaining (because, despite arbitrary deadlines, these things take time) we would be holding a ratification vote for a fairly and freely bargained collective agreement. But since that isn’t happening, do I know that strike action is necessary? You betcha.

  3. Seth says:

    I have no problem with the teachers negotiating for a new deal, they lose their argument when they start spouting off about human rights,maybe if it were a third world country then I could believe it. and If it isn’t about money like they have said,than what is the sticking point? sick days? do they really need 20 a yr? if anyone in the private sector took 20 sick days a yr I highly doubt they would have a job to go back too. Couldn’t possibly be about perks, since they have better perks than most everyone in the private sector. I’m starting to think the union is more in the mood to get into a pissing match with the government than actually get a deal done. Unfortunately the only winners here are the union leadership, the teachers and students ultimately are losing out and the kids are the ones being used as pawns.

  4. Beverley says:

    Thank you for your post in support of the teachers. Both my son and daughter-in-law are standing up for their beliefs and rights at the OCDSB today. I am very proud of them. There has been so much teacher bashing in the press that is completely misinformed. It’s shocking how people feel entitled to “bully” a profession that has the best interests of children…..and democracy…..at heart.

  5. Max says:

    To the commenter that equated teachers with ambulance, firefighters etc. This comparison is ludicrous! These professions are literally involved in LIFE or DEATH activities. Where exactly is the presence of a teacher a LIFE or DEATH matter? The only good thing I can say about that comment is it’s a good example of a red herring. As for the concept of working with the government, C115 is basically a gun to the head allowing the government to dictate terms. One doesn’t work with a dictator one either submits or fights. We are being responsible members of society, fighting for our rights AND those of you and your children. Unions exist exactly because of this type of autocratic imposition of working conditions by employers! Learn a little bit of history. As for the idea that this is the machination of our Union bosses nothing could be further from the truth. It is the membership that has basically TOLD the union bosses to grow a spine and stop being in any manner conciliatory with the government. Until C115 is struck down there is NO room for reasonable discussion because any agreement would be one made under duress. Critical thinking also requires an honest view of the situation which unfortunately, the examples you’ve given, clearly demonstrate is not actuality.

  6. Max says:

    To all I present the following quote:

    “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.”

    Thank them instead of vilifying them! And I’ll leave it to you to learn who the quote is from.

  7. Tad says:

    I think what people need to understand is that extra-curricular activities are purely, and have always been purely, voluntary. In fact the most current version of my board’s collective agreement has a clause clearly stating that the employer will continue to recognize them as such.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the initial post that we have not taken sports/extra-curriculars away from students. The clubs and teams can still run, but must do so with community coaches at the helm for the time being.

    I know our collective histories going through the education system have imprinted upon us the thought that the running of these types of activities is guaranteed to us by the educational system, but the bare fact is that they are not. Even the Ontario Ed Act does not list them under the duties of a teacher.

    Teaching IS important, and teachers for the most part really do care about the whole experience of a student’s educational life. However, the reality is that, given the current attack on the profession, that it would be wrong not to fight, and I would expect nothing less from any citizen in any job who had the individual or collective strength to stand against contract stripping and/or an attack on human/labour rights. In this case, removing ourselves from VOLUNTEER activities is one of our options.

    I might be overshooting myself a little, but I don’t see it as any different than the coach of a local football, hockey, or soccer team, or someone involved with an organization such as girl guides, becoming upset with something in the organization, or rules/sanctions coming down from the governing body, and choosing not to coach or be involved.
    Good schools and systems, with the foresight to see what was coming, should have, through their administration and staff (while they were still able), put together a plan for community coaches to take over their teams. My school did, and things are continuing without a hitch. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to have some energetic and exciting individuals come in and be a part of the system (hopefully just for a while though – I really do miss it…).

  8. emerge says:

    Dear Seth,

    Why don’t you present your case to the writers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? They probably aren’t aware that the rights they consider to be fundamental only apply to those people and countries which are already desperate or oppressed. Or maybe they are, and the word “Universal” was a typo or something.

    Thanks for being an example of what Dilovely was talking about (and she’s not going to respond, so I will) – if you’re angry about teachers having a union, you’re entitled to your opinion. If you’re unhappy in your own job, I sympathize. But if you actually want to make a point, make sure that you’ve read the entire post (and actually, you can read Bill 115 if you want to know what you’re against; there’s a handy link).

    Dilovely is talking about teachers being vilified for standing up for their right to collective bargaining, which the government is doing its best to obliterate, and for the emotional and practical tensions of resorting to work-to-rule in order to be heard. She’s not talking about teachers “walking off the job” or competing with people in the private sector to make sure they have more perks. Seth, I don’t know what you do for a living, but if you feel unsatisfied, downtrodden, overworked, underpaid (or, dare I say, vilified by the public) in your own job, and you don’t have any recourse to improve the situation (or, say a union to fight for you), I really hope you can find another one.

  9. Max says:

    Seth, it’s about living in a dictatorship where the government thinks it can pass any law it wants and get away with it. As for sick days, it’s about having what was already earned under previously agreed to contracts retroactively changed. This is a very dangerous precedent because it basically invalidates all contracts. Take the blinders off and broaden your outlook. If your thinking this can’t or won’t be applied to other contracts and other aspects of a contract you are sadly mistaken. The Union leadership gains nothing and it is the Government using the children as pawns to gain the sympathy of the unthinking masses not the teachers.

  10. Education should be an essential service. It offers more value to more people in society than any other government service. It pre-empts costs to our criminal justice and health care systems, and improves the lots of everyone in the province; it’s vital.

    I would be more than happy to see education workers considered to be an essential service. Arbitrated agreements would result in none of the dishonesty and bullying that have led to the current mess. Education workers would work in safer conditions, and with better benefits and salaries. Bring it.

  11. DCK says:

    Very well said.

    As a member of OECTA, we seem to have been put in the middle. The other unions are not happy with us due to the fact that our union okayed the MOU without our approval. Our days are business as usual … Yet, I have already used up half of my sick days because colleagues are coming in sick and spreading their germs because they don’t want to run out of sick days. Parents are sending their kids to school sick…. and the sickness just runs rampant throughout the students and the teachers/staff.

    Why aren’t the parliamentary jobs taking similar hits? Why did our government choose to target our sector?

    We’re already unpopular with parents, withdrawing services and holding walkouts only increases our negative position with everyone … and yet, it is essential for the future of education in Ontario that we stand up for our rights. Parents need to have educated, knowledgable and experienced teachers in their children’s classrooms. We don’t want to drive those people away from this profession – the students need them!

  12. Max says:

    @tk1ng, all services are essential to someone. That is the whole point of a strike. Essential services are involved in life and death situations, teachers aren’t so the designation would be inappropriate! You’re right, teachers are very important though for all the reasons you gave and more. Which begs the question regarding the hooplah over wages, which really aren’t at issue in this action. If you have watched arbitration with the government lately they are setting the terms for the arbitrator to meet. Hardly a fair or honest process. The rules under the Labour Relations Act are fair and if both sides follow it the outcome is positive. When one side short shifts the other, as the government has done with Bill 115 that is when there are problems so tell them to back off and meet us with honesty.

  13. Stace says:

    If you forget for a moment that this bill is concerning teachers, because let’s face it, for some reason people are always up in arms over teachers collective bargaining; and try looking at the facts as they pertain to ANY job:

    1. The government is overriding the decisions of the employer. Even if the employer and employee are in agreement.

    2. The government is taking away the ability to bargain with the employer about job conditions… CONDITIONS, not just money! Get over the money part already!

    3. The government has the ability to take away CURRENT job conditions, the equivalent of your boss saying “Hey dude, your 40 hour work week is now a 50 or 60 hour work week, but you’re getting paid the same or LESS.” And with no recourse because:

    4. The government has said no part of this bill may be questioned under Labour Law or Employee Standards Act. Meaning, you can’t fight any part of what they decide to do to your job.

    How does this not scare the heck out of people? The government wants to control your working conditions and salary without having to answer to anyone. And if they succeed with the teachers, they will do it TO EVERYONE. Because they CAN. If they can make the taxpayers and workers foot the bill for THEIR fiscal problems IN PERPETUITY, why wouldn’t they? How much will job safety matter if they can save a few million? Or benefits? Or reasonable working days? This is the government we’re talking about here, they’re not exactly known for being transparent and honest about their agenda. Show me one statement in Bill 115 that says anything about helping students.

    It’s time to wake up and realize this is not about how much those gosh darned teachers make, it’s about the future of employment standards in Canada. The future of your children’s employment. So, yeah, they may lose out on a soccer club or a drama club now, but in the end we’re also fighting for THEIR future.

  14. Ummm what about all the non unionized public sector workers? says:

    lol @ Max – definitely come a long way from my post calling me “ludicrous” for comparing teachers to other essential services. Just because YOUR definition is life or death doesn’t mean that is what legislators must consider for making something an essential service. TTC isn’t life or death and things were very dicey for awhile there on whether or not it would be considered.
    Absolutely kids not being educated is a life or death situation anyway. Think about it long term. THINK CRITICALLY. And stop looking down your nose at me simply because you don’t agree. My post deals very much with the issues at hand and if I didn’t rant long enough or in enough detail enough read my response in “Those Greedy Lazy Teachers” post in this blog or go to Metro Morning where I happily take on all kinds of points there.
    To dismiss my points as “not taking an honest look” and “a herring” simply because you don’t agree only serves to make you and those who voice similar sentiments look biased. I AM looking at other people’s viewpoints besides yours which is why I brought up these other groups in the first place. Are you?
    The only “guns” you have to your head is reason: the government saying you can’t get exactly everything you want the way you want it anymore for every contract everafter amen. To compare that response (2 years only, not even close to permanent) to the human rights and actual freedoms violations that exist nationally and internationally is sickening. Even the imagery of a gun to your head is EXTREMELY callous. Try being in that situation and tell me you would make such a disrespectful comparison.

    Bill 115 came about because you would NOT make other concessions so this bologna that they are FORCING you to DO WHATEVER THEY WANT needs to stop. If anyone is not “taking an honest look” at the situation, it’s you.

    @Krista – first of all thank you for a presentation that stuck to true perspective of position and your knowledge of the facts rather than demeaning anyone who thought differently from you. I appreciate that.

    You mentioned that the government presented terms back in Febraury “we didn’t agree” then they were legislated. Here is the thing about negotiations… there needs to BE negotiation. Not just on part of the government… on part of the employer as well. And the stricter the fiscal times especially when you are paid with taxpayer dollars, the stricter those negotiations will have to be. Not because the government are callous jerks (necessarily) but BECAUSE THEY NO LONGER HAVE THE MONEY TO GIVE YOU. You can’t just “not agree” for contract after contract, get your way every time, call it “negotiation” then be surprised when the free ride crashes. If you think that Bill 115 did not come about this way, then I think we both could do with some going back to history.

    Teachers’ unions ONLY made concessions (theoretically, in the media, knowing it was too late for there to be any difference other than lip service anyway) once Bill 115 was introduced. But perhaps if concessions were made initially, you wouldn’t have negotiation restrictions imposed TEMPORARILY on you.

  15. Ummm what about all the non unionized public sector workers? says:

    @ Stacy: If the government gives money to the employer to pay you then I am pretty sure they employ you as well. Your employer is somewhat like middle management.
    I work for community living. Though I could say management and the ED are my employers, we all function through MCSS funding. When they chop positions, it doesn’t matter how much our employer wants us there, that position is gone and someone is packing their bags. You want to take the “teacher” label off Bill 115, there it is, fellow worker. Those who pay your bills employ you.

  16. Ummm what about all the non unionized public sector workers? says:

    @ Tad, I mentioned this in DiLovely’s other post “Those Greedy Lazy Teachers” but I will mention it here as it relates directly to your response.

    First please stop spreading misinformation: We cannot use school property that taxpayers pay for to run extracurricular activities that teachers refuse to run. Apparently some BS about liability. So do, praytell, offer a realistic and safe alternative for parents (who are still working the full shift of their jobs and then some except they don’t call that volunteer work) to now lead the extracurriculars that some teachers don’t feel they need to “volunteer” doing anymore? Community centres are full to the brim with programs and are not financially accessible for everyone. They also don’t keep together school communities. They may also be further away from home than their local schools. So yea the whole “parents why don’t you do it” argument is BS and everyone knows it. You’re parents too. You know how much we run our children here there and everywhere as it is in the evenings (and for most of us our evening doesn’t start at 4pm) and the mad dash to get nutritious dinners on the table and even better lunches in backpacks (cause god forbid we are accused of making teachers’ lives harder because we didn’t pack the perfect most nutritious (convenient in that there are no microwaveable items) lunch)!

    And to your comments that extracurriculars are neither necessary nor mandatory.
    A basketball team, a band, a choir, a peer mentor group… those pieces of education are arguably THE most important part of education. They are the setting where communities are built and where kids get their first real practice in a structured safe setting at negotiating themselves in groups. They are learning all the soft skills that are so essential in life to succeed but cannot be learned from books. They also keep idle hands busy, and peer attitudes wholesome. They ARE life changers for some kids and to pass that off as irrelevant or unimportant gives me an important window into how privileged you are and likely many like you.
    Now to get to the mandatory aspect, let’s see: your income is average let’s say 60K (I am low balling it here and I know it but for the sake of argument). Let’s say we both make 60K (I don’t by the way I make much less). If we include 2 weeks at Christmas, 1 week of March break, and 9 weeks of summer, that puts teachers (IF THEY WERE ONLY DOING NON “VOLUNTARY” WORK) at working 40 out of 52 weeks a year to my 49 (we’ll say 3 weeks vacay is the average even though ESA only mandates 2… I only get 4% vacation pay which is equivalent to 2 weeks, just as an FYI).
    Now let’s look at hours of work a day. The standard is 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to total a 40 hour work week. I do this in addition to my “volunteer” hours on evenings and weekends as appropriate depending on what deadlines need to be met or what I need to catch up on. If you only do mandated activities, your work day *could* be as short as 6 hours/day. So you could work as little as 30 hours/week to my 40.

    So, bottom line (and leaving benefits alone which if you really want to get picky can be broken down to increase your salary as well) a teacher making 60K is making roughly $50/hr for every $30.61/hr a non teacher makes for the same salary. So when you say doing work outside of the class is “voluntary” I think, well why is it his/her hours are so much less for the same pay? Why? Because clearly you ARE expected to work a couple of evenings here and there and maybe even a weekend or two. Happens all the time in many jobs. Get over it, imo. Extracurriculars are not only a part of your job, they are an essential part…
    and @ Stacy if you feel those “conditions” are offensive because you didn’t agree with them, if this is the kind of nonsense the government was putting up with, they are probably just writing things in now to avoid future power trips and everyone’s designation that they are “volunteering” to do extracurriculars.

    This is not setting new precedent. This happened with Air Canada workers and then life moved on. You’re making this about all kind of things it’s not and doesn’t have to be. The whole save the children’s futures, save the world rhetoric is union BS. Plenty of people don’t have unions and they get along with their employers just fine (usually much MUCH better). It’s called free market. Google doesn’t need a union to tell them that treating their employees well leads to higher productivity, success, and job retention.

    Unions DID great work I agree with you…a.long.time.ago. A time when the ESA hadn’t been fully developed and fiscal fantasies could dream much bigger than today’s standards. If unions were doing their jobs properly they’d be trying to work themselves out of a job. Instead they are a business that constantly needs YOUR business. How does that work for you? ESPECIALLY long term?

    Also NONE of the teachers’ actions-supporting commenters attempted to answer my question I posted in my first post. Disappointing.

  17. angry says:

    While I understand that teachers deserve pay for the work that they do, And teachers are very valuable, a lot of people feel that teachers are extremely ungrateful for what they have. How many teachers Have honestly worked in the private sector and know what the rest of Canada is struggling through? I’ve been laid off twice in four years, get a maximum of 2 weeks vacation, no sick days, no mental health days, but I am still grateful to get work. And yes, I have a university education just like you. Please be more grateful. Thank you.

  18. Amanda says:

    With everything that could be going on tomorrow, reading this post was the pick-me-up I needed. Thank you. You expressed so many of my fears and gave me so many reasons to hold on.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Amanda, I’m so glad. What a confusing day Friday was… I hope morale at your school is doing all right in spite of it all.

  19. Cat says:

    At some point, Krista, those essential services employees had their “Charter” rights trampled by being deemed essential and being told they can no longer strike.
    Tell me how strong is your bargaining power if you can’t strike? This is why unions and their members hold on to this advantage so tenaciously.
    And yet… and yet these essential services function. They get fair wages and benefits even without their basic “Charter”, “Human”, “(insert other equally misleading and inappropriate term)” rights. They DO negotiate.. because negotiate is take AND GIVE not just TAKE and walk away from the table when the other side doesn’t want to give as much this time around. When do the union sides ever give? I have been on a bargaining committee. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. We’re not big on “giving” much of anything. You know it and I know it, so please save me an excerpt of Sam Hammond-style rhetoric.
    But the problem is the education system is NOT private, the government IS accountable to taxpayers and bankable sick days with no limit that could be paid out in entirety at retirement is reprehensible in such a dire economy and is not at all accountable to the taxpayer OR other public service recipient or workers who have to function on far less.

    Not to mention this Bill expires in 2 years. TWO! If it even makes it through the courts in tact anyhow, which I seriously doubt it will.

    Teachers, I respect you, but please stop. I promise you’ll survive. You’ll get through this. You will be able to continue to provide for your families and maintain reasonable benefits with or without the ability to strike for the next 2 years or 500 plus accrued sick days. Honest. When the economy is better, I will be right alongside you, at a similar table, telling whatever government in power that it is at that time to pony up some dollars they have steadily peeled away from us over the deficit to pay in to what matters most: our essential public services and public service workers. Surplus is the time for these cries and demands… not now.

  20. Cat says:

    Keep up the sanctions currently going on and I can almost promise that if Conservatives get elected next time what you call me ludicrous for will not only sound far less crazy, it WILL happen.
    I suggest teachers pressure their union officials to quit mandating sanctions now before things like extracurriculars and the inability to strike get legislated permanently.

  21. Max says:

    I see Cat. So your thought is that because of the threat of a dictatorship we should just roll over. As for the bankable sick days, you do realise that this was something to be budgeted for, were earned under a contract ratified by by both parties so that the current clawback in fact is abrogating prior agreements and that the government has reduced corporate taxes from 14% to 11% right now and a further 1% reduction this year. In other words multimillion dollar tax breaks for megacorporations are being paid for by the workers of Ontario, those corporations are “persons” under the law yet pay a fraction of their profits relative to the income tax the rest of us pay. That 3% gift to big business is OK though. You’re right that it’s time for the current sanctions to be ended, it’s time to strike and tell the government that we are not accepting indentured servitude which is what the current state of affairs actually is.

  22. Bill 115 is only the beginning. If they can get away with this, what else can they get away with? And to whom?

    I shutter to think about what our province will look like in 20-30 yrs if this bill is not repealed.

  23. Cat says:

    Max I think it is time to think about someone other than yourself or your colleagues. I agree that contracts and negotiations are to be respected but at the end of the day you get paid taxpayer dollars – along with every other public sector worker who has had to struggle with doing more with less for many years now. Public service USERS have suffered far more than teachers while governments struggle to balance budgets.
    Committing to no longer punishing kids is not “rolling over”. This bill’s legality has been questioned in court. Union officials and teachers (rightfully) have not been shy about voicing their concerns in the media and attempting to gain public support (I think they should reconsider their strategy seriously as they are not doing well in this area and public pressure is EXTREMELY powerful once gained). Where I stop supporting is when this rhetoric turns into slippery slope logical fallacies whereby everyone is threatened, we live in an autocracy, and our human rights are at stake. I particularly bristle when this, shall we say “less than accurate” picture is fed to students to get THEIR support on the picket lines and in the media allthewhile they are supporting actions against those students under UNION SANCTIONS not government ones. If Dalton is your dictator than Sam Hammond is ours… and our children’s… and Dalton doesn’t fine you $500 if you publicly disagree with him.
    I never said I agree with corporate tax cuts. I am vehemently against them. At the end of the day, Max, who are you serving by punishing children? Your cause? Highly doubtful. Sticking it to the government? Doesn’t seem to be working so well, does it? Public Support? Um, yea that is a big NO Yourselves? Maybe marginally… less work overall this year compared to others, I am sure… but at the cost of your morale, a day’s pay, public support, and the trust of those you serve (your students) I’d say even for selfish reasons this hardly seems worth it.

    @kater: Bill 115 has a two year expiration date. It does. People with Ph.D.s in Policy have said as much on credible sources such as CBC. I said this too in the early days and pro-unionists jumped on me and said I was too stupid to understand Bill 115 and that I should “actually read it” which I had already at that point. But I feel more confident in saying this knowing it came from a somewhat objective source and not just my own interpretation. I honestly don’t think this Bill is being placed to set new norms. I know no teacher believes this, but as a public sector employee who knows EXACTLY how much affect this could have on HER much more poorly compensated job already, I still do.

  24. Max Kennedy says:

    Cat, fortunately I can see beyond the short term unlike you. Bill C115 has NO expiry date effectively! It can simply be reintroduced if we let the gov’t get away with this BS! Look at history. This is exactly the type of strategy Hitler used to erode the morals and power of the general populace, attack one group, then another, then another. Then he used the promise this promise that to take over Austria. The parallels are frightening. You think Gov’t won’t do that if they are successful? Stop being naive! Not forcing the issue is a sure way to guarantee it does. Decreased corporate taxes and increasing corporate intervention in government being paid for by decreased services and decreasing wages means we need to stop this now. Don’t believe in corporations controlling the issue google Harper and the influence of oil companies on the recent spate of environmental regulation changes! Wake up and stop being a sheep!

  25. Still not sure who are the children and who are the teachers?
    Teachers are supposed to be highly educated?
    Walk off the job, stop doing your job? These are professionals? Suggest you go apply at the local auto, steel or some other unionized manufacturing factory. Have you seen what has happen in their industry lately? Give your head a shake, grow up. You are well paid and have great working conditions. You have the best flexable timetable. both with respect to hours per day and per month, per year. no other job has it. You picked this job for the perks or to teach children? Then start doing your jobs like professionals. Stop acting like kids that don’t get their way.

  26. Max says:

    John, we also understand freedom, how it can be lost piece meal and how this action parallels history. A few quotes for you.

    “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

    “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

    “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

    You might find out who these people were to see how worthy their words are!

    Another one for you, pesonally.

    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

    And finally

    “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

    Look up the sources and circumstances of these and you will see the the description of juvenile properly belongs in your court!

  27. StanPi says:

    You can’t deem a line of work as essential just for convenience. The jobs you mentioned all have one common factor, which is if they strike, people might die. It’s not life and death with teaching.

  28. StanPi says:

    Seth, need to answer the question of why people who envy the perks of education now did not choose teaching when they had the chance or bash teaching so valiantly before like two years ago. Many know about the perks of teaching but wouldn’t touch teaching with a ten-foot pole. Why’s that? Those who complain how good teachers have it are driven by jealousy. That’s all. The twenty sick days are needed as one ages or deals with serious illnesses. Just because the private sector doesn’t have it, it doesn’t mean no one can have it. The private sector has something else such as vacation pay, bonuses, booking your own vacations, and work from home.

  29. Cat says:

    C’mon Stan… I think we can both agree education is more than “convenience”. I truly hope that is not your view if you educate children. I have addressed this very issue, including the “life or death” argument in previous posts in this thread if you have time to read them.

  30. Cat says:

    Hi Max,

    I am not a sheep and I am not a government rahrahrahraher. I just have perspective – both from a different vantage point within the public sector, as a citizen who has lived through membership in various marginalized service using groups, and as a world traveller who has lived in countries far behind ours as far as rights. While I know we have a long way to go, I think we have much to be proud of.

    Union enthusiasts’ arguments are beautiful in ideal societies. The problem is there aren’t any. And the problems they simplify (“well just reintroduce corporate taxes again”, for example) are usually far from that simple and end up having social program/funding fallout that is even worse. As much as we all love to hate the private sector (I include myself in this at times) they are the primary tax feeders for public programs. If they don’t thrive, we don’t either. All these situations are MASSIVELY complex. And everyone needs to share in hard times. That’s all. As I said in a previous thread, when the economy is stronger I will be the first one at MY employer’s, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, door banging for more money and better programs for the people I serve.

    I promise you, Unions don’t serve you (their members) half as much as they serve themselves. And I say that as an insider as well. I would consider all the rhetoric THEY feed you with half as much vigour and analysis with which you assess those arguments which aren’t compatible with yours and seek many sources of outside information before coming to your own conclusions. I would also ask yourself if their continuous conflict with the government serves their interests or yours.

  31. Max Kennedy says:

    Hi Cat,

    I also have worked in a wide range of positions and traveled widely. I have been in non-unionized and unionized work places. What is currently happening is that big business is saying that they can go elsewhere, such as the totalitarian regime of China, get the labour cheaper, have head offices elsewhere that have lower taxes and buy off government representatives with massive campaign contributions so government had better dictate lower taxes, Corporate taxes have gone down to about 11%, and lower expenditures so they don’t need the tax revenues. Take a look at your own tax rate. If it’s anywhere near 11% I’ll eat your tax return without salt. As I’ve said previously this current grievance is not about $ but about using dictatorial powers to impose unacceptable conditions and claw back benefits already earned under previously ratified contracts thereby retroactively breaking those contracts. This is NOT the action of a democratic society but of a dictatorship. The government has reduced their revenues from business and are burdening everyone else with picking up the slack of their corporate masters. I for one say NO!

  32. Max Kennedy says:

    Cat, Education is not essential. Extremely important yes but not essential. Your arguments to the contrary are just so much BS. What should be happening is that the rest of the workforce should be looking to get the better conditions and being pulled up rather than dragging those that have it down. As for sick days, ever looked at how many kids go to school sick because both parents work? You think just because we are teachers we are immune? From early fall to late spring you are constantly fighting off infection. Not true of the vast majority of occupations. The government has put itself in a hard place by prioritizing corporate profits, which reports show are sitting in fat bank accounts doing nothing with respect to generating jobs as was the justification for lowering taxes, instead of the welfare of the public that elects them. I’m not in for making the rich ever richer which is the result of this STUPIDITY!

  33. Cat says:

    Oh Max, obviously we must agree to disagree. I get your sentiments but the real world must make room for everyone not just teachers and in the real world the pot of money with which to pay all the public sector employees is not bottomless. A lot of jobs have high exposure to illness… including working with a bunch of other young parents of kids in school and daycare. Having said that 8 days in 9 months is a lot and be honest: most teachers didn’t take their sick days even when they were sick because they WANTED the payout at the end… I never knew ANY teachers to take sick time because they said the amount of preparation never made it worth it… I would probably do the same, even though that choice is ACTUALLY not fair to immune-sensitive students or fellow colleagues who may be on contract or not get the paid time off. Most people were not really advocating for less sick days – it was the bank payout at the end that was the real kicker (and I realize the government agreed to that many moons ago to purportedly save money but I don’t see how they came to that conclusion with any kind of logic, but anyway that’s another tangent). You say “that’s BS” a lot. Just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean that what I have to say is BS… I don’t think I have once said that about your views.

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