On day 16 of the BC teacher’s strike, BC teachers gave a list of summer classes that must go on to the BC Teacher’s Federation union leaders. Given that striking teachers will need to teach whichever classes they select, it’s our guess that the list won’t be too lengthy.
This list was given to comply with a ruling by the BC Labour Relations Board on June 28th, that BC students who failed a course and cannot make it up the next year will be permitted to attend summer school, ending the lockout for some teachers but certainly not all of them. Not all students are created equal, and neither are teachers according to the LRB.
After all, BC teachers are only currently making $71,485 per year on average plus benefits, which include reimbursement of 80% of extended health benefits up to $1000, with 100% reimbursed thereafter with no maximum limit, $20,000/year for in-home nursing, $500 per year for each a Naturopath, Chiropractor, Massage therapist, Physiotherapist, Psychologist, Speech therapist, Acupuncturist, and Podiatrist/Chiropodist, a plan for prescription drugs (including contraceptives and sexual dysfunction medication), a pension plan which appears to be above $1500/month (for a teacher with 20 years of service at $72,000/year for the highest year, according to this calculator provided by Teachers’ Pension Plan BC, higher than CPP averages, and this is not including CPP benefits), eye care, dental (at least 80%), life insurance, group RRSPs, and travel insurance.
That was a pile of a paragraph, because there are a pile of benefits.
Now while I would personally suggest that $71,485/year (compared to the BC median personal income of under $29,000/year) may seem like, I don’t know, a job not worth striking over, this is clearly a minority opinion. Apparently 25% of the salary goes towards contributions to those benefits, only putting teachers at almost twice the median income, rather than 2.5x higher.
I mean, with all of those benefits, what more could someone who works 10 months of the year (minus 15 sick days, two weeks in the winter, and a week in the spring) possibly want?
Signs say something about children with special needs, something about budget cuts, and maybe something else about classroom sizes. Well what are they asking the government for? Oh, a 13% increase over the next three years, bringing the average teacher’s salary to $80,778. Pieces fall into place, and the same old song plays again. Teachers are underpaid, teachers in other provinces make more money (which is somehow true no matter which province you’re in), and that we should have more respect for the most important members of our society. There are demands for additional funding for special needs students, but as far as I am aware, no teachers union representative has offered to sacrifice raises or their massages in order to secure them.
The teachers’ union is still picketing outside all schools open for the summer, though they are being forced to allow children and staff to cross the picket line. Regrettably, schools are host to a number of groups during the summer, including a camp for autistic children at Earl Marriott Secondary School in Surrey, which has been forced to move due to both the picket lines and the lines on the picket signs. “You have to see the big picture,” says a union spokesperson who has forgotten that first, do no harm.
The government has offered a 6% raise, and the BC Teachers Federation says they will settle for a 7.5% raise. A shame about those children who will be under-prepared for their next year, or for university. Or those who wanted to take summer classes, but couldn’t. Maybe one day, with the right education, they too will be able to see the big picture.