While I don’t generally agree with many of the statements made by Joan Erb on behalf of the Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers’ Association — I will concede that people are getting a little wound up about the BCTF asking for a 20 per cent wage increase.
Like any negotiation, you can always amend your offer but you can’t go up once you drop that initial gauntlet. It’s simply a starting point … although asking for a 20 per cent wage increase at a time when so many taxpayers are struggling just to keep their boats afloat seems somewhat arrogant.
On the other hand, people need to act in their own best interest, however it looks to the rest of us.
What I do take serious offence to is the BCTF and the CCTA telling us that, in phase one of job action, teachers will continue to “volunteer” for extra-curricular activities. I have never understood how these “volunteer” activities get to be a political football — or in my case, a rugby ball, every time teacher-wage negotiations come along. Along with many other non-teachers in our community, I have spent many years (10 of them, in fact) volunteering to coach a school team for exactly the same amount of compensation that a teacher gets … nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true … you do get the incredible sense of satisfaction that comes from contributing positively to the life of some young people, and winning a few titles and having your players go on to play for B.C. and Canada and, and, and … let’s just say it’s pretty rewarding and those who do it, regardless of their employer, know what I mean. The key word is “volunteer.” No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head forcing them to coach or organize extra-curricular activities. It’s not part of the collective agreement or the prescribed curriculum — hence the name — and shouldn’t even be mentioned as part of the negotiations. Those members of the CCTA who choose to volunteer their time do so out of the goodness of their heart and hopefully out of a sense of community.
I hate to see the union cheapening these volunteer contributions by holding them up as part of a potential strike action. Say whatever they want, a statement like that is all about applying political pressure … it’s never about “the kids.”
Dean Fulton is a freelance columnist for the Tribune and a local musician.