One of my friends posted her thoughts on Facebook about the Elementary School Teachers’ Union job action May 11 over negotiations with the Province, and school board. Someone responded how they didn’t understand where the hostility towards Teachers was coming from.
Hostility is a harsh word; it implies hate or a level of dislike. Nobody hates teachers. I’d call it irritation with government, and unions. In 2012 the Liberals did the tough thing and froze wages, and suspended their right to strike for two years. The unions responded with asking their members to work-to-rule by refusing to participate in voluntary activities. They had a point: the right to protest is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Three years later Ontario’s deficit is $10.9 billion, and the ban on strikes and job action has run out. There are two negotiating tables this time around: the main one headed by the province dealing with financial issues; wages, benefits and paid leave. Issues related to working conditions, and administration are left up to the local boards to hash out.
The Liberal government is faced with the possibility of job cuts, and wage freezes in order to eliminate the deficit. And of course the teachers’ unions don’t want this to happen again, and are choosing to fight. The Teacher’s unions are among the more vocal, and that makes them lightening rods for our discontent.
Teachers’ compensation as of 2012 was very generous. Someone starting out their career could make between: $45,709-55,404. After 10 years that jumps to $76,021-94,707. Their benefits are completely paid for by the employer; 94% for dental benefits. Pensions are based on their years of service, and the average of their five best years. If I had a benefits and pension package like that I’d fight for it too.
So many Ontarians don’t. And that’s another reason why people are annoyed. In the private sector you’re lucky to find a job with health & dental benefits, never mind a pension plan. People look at the numbers in relation to their own situation and realize how good that looks.
Maybe the teachers should too.