So now that the other shoe has dropped, it looks like the teachers will be taking one for the teamand by "team", I mean all the families in this province that have children in the public school system. I don't know any teacher who actually thinks we will be getting a raise in pay under the forthcoming legislated mandate - strike or no strike - so why is a walk out still a consideration for the 41,000+ BCTF members?
Well, unlike what the naysayers or politically motivated have been espousing, perhaps it has not been all about big wage increases after all. Is it possible that teachers are more principled than many believe? Is it possible that class composition really does matter to us? Is it possible that the erosion of services to our most vulnerable students has become so chronic that we have simply had enough? Or, just maybe, we believe the government shouldn't be tearing up lawfully agreed upon contracts, imposing legislation and wasting money they say they don't have on a "bargaining process" that was clearly a sham from the start.
Would teachers have accepted a salary bump? Of course we would havewho wouldn't? Does that mean we should never have asked for one in the first place? Of course not, that would be sheer folly in a true bargaining process. I'm pretty certain that the BCTF bargaining unit did us no favors though, by asking for such a rich compensation package in their opening gambit.
That "bulls eye" was so big that no one could miss it. And even though it has been amended downward significantly, it is still the central focus of everyone who wants to take a shot at teachers. Failure to read the political and economic climate of the day was a mistake which put the BCTF membership in a bad light, and obfuscated other issues which could have gained traction in the early going. Instead we are left spinning our wheels.
So where does this leave us? If teachers walk out, as is our right to do prior to legislation, we are doing so at a personal cost which will not come back to us in any way. In short, we are putting our money where our mouths are.
We will lose salary for everyday of any legal action, and will lose wages and face heavy fines if we continue past a legislated end to the action. In households where both spouses are teachers, this cost may quickly run into the thousands of dollars. One can only imagine that the government is gleefully awaiting this occurrence, as they will not only pocket a windfall in unpaid wages, but can (and will) play the public against the BCTF for political gain. Shameful.
So why would we do this? Because if we don't, who in this province will?
Digital Media, Animation & Film Instructor
Gleneagle Secondary School