Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Why is Bargaining NOW important ?

**Warning - Rant Alert...

A lot of TTOCs I have spoken to have a lot of questions about Job Action and what is going on right now with teachers. TTOCs go into numerous classrooms and teach hundreds of students a week (sometimes a day).

When I first started TTOCing 6 years ago I had no idea how anything worked. How did I get my own classroom? Why was I paying union dues? Why was there a teacher strike during my practicum?

I just came out of University and wanted to teach. I loved each day's new experiences and knew very little about the 2006 job action except that it post-poned part of my practicum.

As time has passed I have become very involved and so when a TTOC asks "Why is this important?" or "What is this about?" I am glad to share with them my reasons....

TTOCs are often new(er) teachers (though not always) and bargaining now is to create a future for them in their long careers as teachers.

Teacher's Working Conditions = Student's Learning Conditions.

We became teacher's because we love kids and we are passionate about education. But, far too often, we allow ourselves to suffer and it takes a toll. Bargaining for improvements to our working conditions leads to more positive learning environments and our students deserve that! Heck, teacher's deserve that!

TTOC's benefited in the last round of bargaining..... Remember Vince Ready's Report?

TTOCs gained the ability to be paid on scale after the 4th consecutive day of work and to earn seniority on the 4th consecutive day of work.

Last round of bargaining also gave TTOCs a minimum daily rate of pay, which significantly helped teachers-on-call in some districts who were paid extremely less than teachers-on-call in other districts.

TTOCs felt more valued and appreciated with these changes.

Bargaining Now....

Salary improvements will help TTOCs (who are now paid on scale on the 4th consecutive day) and new teacher's starting their careers. But, despite the media's focus on salary, that is not the only thing teacher's are trying to negotiate....

Class Size and Composition Improvements = More full time Positions - more manageable class sizes

Teacher's have taken 0% salary increases in the past to secure class size and composition language that would keep class sizes manageable and create better learning environments for students. Unfortunately the government stipped that language (illegally!) and so teacher's felt they took the 0% and still got 0 in the way of classroom improvements.

Now we are playing catch-up. Teacher's have asked for what the media screams is a massive 15%, but, the 15% is broken down as follows:

year one - 3% Cost of Living Allowance & 0% increase
year two - 3% COLA 3% market adjustment
year 3 - 3% COLA 3% market adjustment

The reason this is neccessary is because right now our teachers are 9th in the country as far as pay goes, with one of the highest costs of living.

We have fallen behind the rest of the country for salary and we are losing amazing teacher's to neighbouring provinces who have lower cost of living, higher salaries and other benefits such as increased preparation time.

Net zero (0%) is equivalent to a pay cut because of inflation (2011 inflation was 3%) To stop the gap widening between BC and other provinces we need a 12% wage increase (Alberta is $21,000/ year higher=20%+) Net zero (0%) over three years would widen the gap to $30,000/year.

The net-zero hasn't been followed in other public sectors.

BC Nurses – 3% for 2009, 3% for 2010, 3% for 2011
Treasury Board of Canada (PSA) – 1.75% for 2011, 1.5% for 2012, 2% for 2013
CN Railway (Teamsters) – 2.4% for 2010, 3% for 2011, 3% for 2012
Kamloops Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% FOR 2011, 2% for 2012, 2% for 2013
Surrey Firefighters- 3% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011
North Cowichan Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011, 2.5% for 2012, 3% for 2013
CN Railway (CAW) – 2.4% for 2011, 2.6% for 2012, 3% for 2013, 3% for 2014
Comox District Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2% for 2011, 3% for 2012, 2% for 2013
Vancouver Police – 2.95% for 2010, 2.95% for 2011, 1.25% for 2012, 1.3% for 2013
Quesnel Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 0% for 2010, 1.5% for 2011, 2%for 2012
BC Rapid Transit – 3% for 2010
Canada Revenue Agency (PSA) – 1.5% for 2010, 1.5% for 2011
Courtenay Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% f0r 2011, 2% for 2012, 2.75% for 2013, 2.25% for 2014
BC Paramedics – 3% for 2010
Revelstoke Municipal Employees – 1.25% for 2010, 1.25% for 2011, 1.5% for 2012, 1.5% for 2013

Over the period 2000 -2010, average public sector wages in BC have risen by 16.9% while private sector wages have risen by 25%.

I wonder why it is being so strictly enforced with teachers... no give... which is what is needed in bargaining and negotiations, compromise....

We say 15% and they say 0%

Compromise would allow both parties to find something in the middle.

Besides Salary and Class Size and Composition Improvements, there are other things that teacher's would like and as a TTOC I could see some areas of improvement as well...

Benefit improvements could mean more affordable benefits for TTOCs as well as more working days for TTOCs if teachers are able to stay home when they are sick instead of drag themselves to school anyways. I would love to see an ability to acrue sick days as a TTOC. Not neccessarily in the same way a full-time classroom teacher's acrues them, but perhaps a formula that allows TTOCs to earn and use sick days. TTOCs often can not afford the opt-in benefits and many do not get enough work so they will go in even if they are sick because they need the paid day. Benefit improvements would help all teacher's especially because working with kids we are more exposed to all the illnesses that go around each year.

Not to mention prep time for teacher's who put in hours of their own time before school, after school, weekends, lunches, to photocopy, plan, mark, collaborate, learn, tweak lessons and so on...

So there is more than just salary that teacher's are looking for, though that is certainly an important piece.

Unfortunately, if we don't fight for these improvements, we may end up with strips such as elimination of seniority, use of "suitability for hire", use of "performance reports" for hiring, no requirements for posting jobs or filling jobs, control of professional development and more.

So to new teacher's, TTOCs and other teacher's (most likely hired in or after 2006) these are some reasons I think it is important to be aware of what is going on with bargaining. It is important to stay informed and it is important to get involved. It is our future!

With improvements to our working conditions we can see improvements to our students learning conditions and all feel like we did fresh out of university - with that burning passion to just teach!

**End Rant... But, I did warn you

BCTF VIdeo: Problem/Solution

BCTF Video: Interests

[Information regarding TTOCs and Bargaining from TTOC ALert #3 prepared by the BCTF TTOC AC]

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I am ignorant of the way that teachers' performance is currently measured, but I can't see the problem with the use of "suitability for hire", or "performance reports." I know that there are many poor teachers out there that use the seniority system as a shield, and I think that there needs to be an alternative way (maybe supplementary way) to gauge how effectively teachers are doing their jobs. Do you necessarily see moving in this direction as a negative thing?