Teachers not demanding

Vernon Teachers Association president responds to 'myth' about teacher/government dispute

Everyone is getting tired of the dispute between the government and teachers. I would prefer not to be writing yet another letter, but this is a traumatic time for teachers with the imposition of Bill 22.

In his recent column, Richard Rolke perpetuates another myth.  The BCTF is not ‘demanding’ anything. We publicly stated our bargaining position on salaries and the length of an agreement in response to misleading information from the government. To the people who persist in thinking that all teachers are after is a raise: you are being misled.

Of course we think we deserve a raise. When Saskatchewan teachers had their mediated settlement, the mediator threw out comparisons with Alberta (too high) and B.C. (too low).

But all we asked for this year was a raise to meet the increased cost of living, and then in the next two years ‘market adjustments’ to start to bring B.C. back into the range of other provinces.  As our president Susan Lambert has stated many times, “everything is negotiable” including pay and the length of term of the collective agreement. Does that sound like a ‘demand’?

Furthermore, we have been asking for help in reaching a settlement through an independent mediator. This position is supported by our local trustees and by other trustees from all over the province. Instead, the Liberal government is following in their own misguided footsteps from 2002 and 2005 – ‘my way or the highway’.

The answer to Judge Griffin’s order giving them a year to correct their illegal actions from 2002 is Bill 22. Mr. Abbott said that Bill 22 was drafted “over the weekend” with great reluctance.  Unbelievable, Mr. Abbott.

Mr. Abbott and Ms. Clark play fast and loose with the facts. The government has an attack ad campaign running in radio, print and a new TV ad. Somehow one teacher turns into two teachers plus a CEA all under net zero.

Does anyone wonder how the three of them get paid? If you could turn one doctor into two doctors and a nurse for the same dollars it would solve some health care issues too, but no sensible person would make that suggestion. Fair treatment comes from fair play.

With public education funding dropping as a percentage of the provincial budget for the past 10 years from 26 per cent to less than 15 per cent it is no wonder that we are continually in a crisis.

This government has bungled and mismanaged its way to this point by cutting their own revenue in the face of increasing costs.

Selling off assets to compensate for lost tax revenue doesn’t last long. They even wanted to sell the Coquihalla!

Look at their dismal record in taxation, health care and education. Trickle down economics?  More wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people while B.C.’s child poverty rate is amongst the worst in Canada. That is the Liberal legacy for all of us.

Bruce Cummings,


VTA President