I want to support teachers. I really do.
My son’s Grade One teacher, a seasoned veteran who still loves six-year-olds after twentysome years of experiencing them day after day after day (can you imagine?), is simply the best. I have friends and family who are teachers; the hours – hours of their own time – they devote to coaching, mentoring, supervising and caring for their students is mind-boggling.
Not having my son in school isn’t an inconvenience. I work from home, but even if I wasn’t, my mom has been running a daycare for thirty years. So we’re good.
I want to support teachers. But I don’t support being taken for a fool – and as far as I’m concerned, that’s what the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation brass are getting dangerously close to taking the entire province for.
The Saskatchewan government’s most recent offer is a 5.5% increase over three years. A government website has been set up dedicated to detailing the information as it’s being presented.
The STF is looking for an unheard of one-year contract confirming a 12% wage increase. Yes, a 12% hike. A one-year contract.
Trying to find any other information is futile. The STF’s own website doesn’t even admit that they want the 12% in one year, stating only “Teachers are asking for a 12 per cent increase”. The balance of the information presented focuses on comparing teachers to Saskatchewan nurses and MLAs.
MLAs – men and women whose job performance is coldly and definitively judged every four years through a public vote. Can you imagine if parents got to vote every few years on whether each teacher kept their job?
The numbers the STF are using to justify their strike mandate are watery at best, if not completely nonsensical. According to their website: ”Historically Saskatchewan teachers have been paid more than their colleagues in Manitoba and less than their counterparts in Alberta. That historical relationship no longer exists. Saskatchewan teachers on average are now the lowest paid teachers in the prairies, factoring in the cost of living.” The STF then presents a comparison chart that shows that yes, Saskatchewan teachers are being paid an average of 23% less than Alberta’s. A quick scan of Manitoba’s salary comparisons – a complicated web of classifications and regions, shows Manitoba is bang on, or slightly less in regions like Winnipeg, with Saskatchewan.
How this means the “historical relationship” no longer exists is beyond me. “Factoring in the cost of living” is also a pretty loaded statement, particularly without the provision of any facts or numbers to back it up. Don’t try and tell me that a teacher in Loreburn is paying a higher cost of living than a teacher in Calgary.
Next up is the statement the STF is using to justify Thursday’s one-day walkout: ”… teachers with a four-year degree starting out in Saskatchewan earn $7,560 a year less than the Western Canadian average. After 10 years of service, that number increases to $9,423 less than the Western Canadian average.”
What? An average of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba numbers clearly puts Saskatchewan at about $3000 under, not $7560. Throw BC into the mix and you’ve only got about $1000 difference. So where on earth does the $7500 “less than the Western Canadian average” line come from?
I just about choked when I heard that this was the STF – with a straight face – comparing themselves with teachers from places like Inuvik.
Ever buy a carton of milk in Tuktoyaktuk? Or go for a safe, healthy night out on the town?
And with this ludicrous bullsh*t the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation lost my support. Not only is it entirely disrespectful to those who take on the monumental challenge of dedicating themselves to teaching in Canada’s far north, it shows just how badly the STF has lost perspective on the real issues.
As a Saskatchewan taxpayer, and especially a parent, you have the right to be pissed off. This is absolutely nothing more than a greedy cash grab by STF brass. Now that the provincial economy is finally being managed properly – by a government that a great deal of staunchly union-supporting teachers have never supported and never will – the STF has seemingly decided that they’ll have a big ol’ piece of that money pie, thank you, students be damned. Next year, after a provincial election and another year of potash royalty collection, they’ll talk about three year contracts with balanced percentages.
Apparently 95% of Saskatchewan teachers voted 95% in favor of strike action. However, rumor has it that there’s only three days strike pay per teacher in the pot, so Thursday was Strike One. As the strike pot dwindles and summer looms, the appetite for this strike is going to dwindle – and failing an entire province of students isn’t an option. So, you’re going to either see a rushed conclusion before the end of June; or – OR – you’re going to see the whole thing flair up and disappear, reigniting in the fall – conveniently only weeks before the provincial election.
Rest assured this isn’t about quality of education. Those selfless, hardworking teachers who devote hours of their personal time after school and on weekends will continue to do so. So, however, will those who burn a rubber streak out of the parking lot every day at 3.30pm (about 3.20 on Fridays).
Unfortunately they’ll both continue to earn the same salary, regardless of how this nonsense shakes out.
While Gwen Dueck, general secretary of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation insists that the government side is just as much to blame for students sitting at home, instead of in school where they belong – ultimately it was the teachers who locked the doors. Yes, the government has an obligation to continue to remain open to dialogue and negotiations, but they are not obligated to react to spoiled children locking themselves in their rooms, demanding $500 jeans because Daddy got a raise.