The battle between teachers and Queen's Park that never ends

Opinion May 14, 2015 Ancaster News

So why are public school teachers continuing to fight a cause they lost years ago?

In 2008 the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario fought the Liberals and lost a battle over prep time, settling for a contract that was less than expected compared to their public high school counterparts. Then in 2011 the union and high school teachers threatened strike action over the Liberal’s Bill 115 that would impose a two-year wage freeze and strip away a generous benefit that allowed them to bank 200 sick days allowing a teacher to pocket up to $46,000 before retirement.

Again teachers lost that battle.

So now some public high school teachers are out on strike while the elementary school teachers have started a work-to-rule campaign across the province.

However, it’s still confusing why teachers are so prepared to strike and put students’ educational lives at risk.

When asked to explain why they are taking such a hard-line, union execs say it’s because the government wants “concessions.” Sam Hammond, president of elementary teachers’ union called the Liberal’s last offer “offensive.”

They argue they don’t want the government to increase class sizes, nor do they want the Liberals to “micromanage” teachers’ preparation time. Of course pay is never an issue, say union reps, except when it becomes an issue.

“Our members live in a society and they have to deal with cost-of-living increases, hydro increases,” said Hammond.

The Liberals have already stated they don’t have the money for pay increases, unless cuts are made someplace else which would result in bigger classes.

Teachers have benefited wildly from the Liberal government since 2003. The average teacher salary has jumped 34 per cent to $83,500. Elementary teachers managed to gain 50 per cent more preparation time, a bone of contention nearly seven years ago when they were preparing to go out on strike.

After the last teacher and government tug-of-war, the Liberals decided to establish a two-tier bargaining process with local boards and unions negotiating on local issues, while the Ministry of Education and the provincial union leadership work on system-wide issues. So far the process seems to be flawed, with the unions using their membership to pressure the broader negotiations at the provincial level leaving local boards out of the loop, parents frustrated, and student without a classroom to attend.

The teachers’ stated goal of “building better schools” would seem to be nothing more than a promotional campaign, as they strive to re-fight the battles they lost years ago at the expense of taxpayers.

The battle between teachers and Queen's Park that never ends

Opinion May 14, 2015 Ancaster News

So why are public school teachers continuing to fight a cause they lost years ago?

In 2008 the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario fought the Liberals and lost a battle over prep time, settling for a contract that was less than expected compared to their public high school counterparts. Then in 2011 the union and high school teachers threatened strike action over the Liberal’s Bill 115 that would impose a two-year wage freeze and strip away a generous benefit that allowed them to bank 200 sick days allowing a teacher to pocket up to $46,000 before retirement.

Again teachers lost that battle.

So now some public high school teachers are out on strike while the elementary school teachers have started a work-to-rule campaign across the province.

However, it’s still confusing why teachers are so prepared to strike and put students’ educational lives at risk.

When asked to explain why they are taking such a hard-line, union execs say it’s because the government wants “concessions.” Sam Hammond, president of elementary teachers’ union called the Liberal’s last offer “offensive.”

They argue they don’t want the government to increase class sizes, nor do they want the Liberals to “micromanage” teachers’ preparation time. Of course pay is never an issue, say union reps, except when it becomes an issue.

“Our members live in a society and they have to deal with cost-of-living increases, hydro increases,” said Hammond.

The Liberals have already stated they don’t have the money for pay increases, unless cuts are made someplace else which would result in bigger classes.

Teachers have benefited wildly from the Liberal government since 2003. The average teacher salary has jumped 34 per cent to $83,500. Elementary teachers managed to gain 50 per cent more preparation time, a bone of contention nearly seven years ago when they were preparing to go out on strike.

After the last teacher and government tug-of-war, the Liberals decided to establish a two-tier bargaining process with local boards and unions negotiating on local issues, while the Ministry of Education and the provincial union leadership work on system-wide issues. So far the process seems to be flawed, with the unions using their membership to pressure the broader negotiations at the provincial level leaving local boards out of the loop, parents frustrated, and student without a classroom to attend.

The teachers’ stated goal of “building better schools” would seem to be nothing more than a promotional campaign, as they strive to re-fight the battles they lost years ago at the expense of taxpayers.

The battle between teachers and Queen's Park that never ends

Opinion May 14, 2015 Ancaster News

So why are public school teachers continuing to fight a cause they lost years ago?

In 2008 the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario fought the Liberals and lost a battle over prep time, settling for a contract that was less than expected compared to their public high school counterparts. Then in 2011 the union and high school teachers threatened strike action over the Liberal’s Bill 115 that would impose a two-year wage freeze and strip away a generous benefit that allowed them to bank 200 sick days allowing a teacher to pocket up to $46,000 before retirement.

Again teachers lost that battle.

So now some public high school teachers are out on strike while the elementary school teachers have started a work-to-rule campaign across the province.

However, it’s still confusing why teachers are so prepared to strike and put students’ educational lives at risk.

When asked to explain why they are taking such a hard-line, union execs say it’s because the government wants “concessions.” Sam Hammond, president of elementary teachers’ union called the Liberal’s last offer “offensive.”

They argue they don’t want the government to increase class sizes, nor do they want the Liberals to “micromanage” teachers’ preparation time. Of course pay is never an issue, say union reps, except when it becomes an issue.

“Our members live in a society and they have to deal with cost-of-living increases, hydro increases,” said Hammond.

The Liberals have already stated they don’t have the money for pay increases, unless cuts are made someplace else which would result in bigger classes.

Teachers have benefited wildly from the Liberal government since 2003. The average teacher salary has jumped 34 per cent to $83,500. Elementary teachers managed to gain 50 per cent more preparation time, a bone of contention nearly seven years ago when they were preparing to go out on strike.

After the last teacher and government tug-of-war, the Liberals decided to establish a two-tier bargaining process with local boards and unions negotiating on local issues, while the Ministry of Education and the provincial union leadership work on system-wide issues. So far the process seems to be flawed, with the unions using their membership to pressure the broader negotiations at the provincial level leaving local boards out of the loop, parents frustrated, and student without a classroom to attend.

The teachers’ stated goal of “building better schools” would seem to be nothing more than a promotional campaign, as they strive to re-fight the battles they lost years ago at the expense of taxpayers.