After reading many of the letters sent to the Advocate about the teachers’ dispute with the province in regards to their wage increase for 2008, I had to comment.
The facts as I know them are this:
• Province and teachers union signed a five-year contract.
• The province agreed to pay $3 billion towards the teachers’ pensions. Can anyone fathom three billion dollars?
• The province also agreed to an annual wage increase based on the Alberta Wage Index as reported by Stats Canada.
• Stats Canada reported an average wage increase in Alberta of just under five per cent.
• In the spring of 2009, Stats Canada changed the formula they use to calculate the wage index and released a 2008 wage increase of just under six per cent.
These are the facts as I understand them. The contract the teachers signed was based on the old wage index formula and they should abide by this formula at least for 2008 and be happy with the five per cent increase at a time when people are losing their jobs.
It bothers me that all we hear from the teachers’ union is the fact that the province is cutting back spending on education while at the same time they are complaining about a one per cent wage hike that they may or may not be entitled to! Perhaps the province and teachers union could reach an agreement where the one per cent goes to education, but this probably makes too much sense.
Lastly I wish that the teachers’ union and its supporters would quit comparing teachers to nurses. The only things these two professions have in common are they are both employed by the province, are unionized and have a fixed pension.
You cannot compare a profession that works basically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and yes, I know teachers sometimes work evenings and weekends for extracurricular activities and marking exams) with a profession that works shifts 24/7 all year round!
I have yet to hear of a teacher working Christmas or New Year’s or having their day start at 11 p.m. at night.
As you can probably guess, I am married to a nurse and I know how hard their schedule is on them and their families.
And lastly, why does the teachers’ union always have to do its bargaining through the press? What happened to negotiating behind closed doors? For once, I wish that the only news I saw reported in the newspaper was that a deal had been reached.
I think the teachers’ union took our provincial government to the cleaners with this deal and I am stunned that we spent $3 billion towards a pension fund, and for what?