EDITORIAL: Teachers must be realistic

Teachers are approaching contract talks from two perspectives at the same time.

We like teachers. We really do.

We get to deal with them a lot in this job and most are caring professionals, dedicated to helping their students learn. In an already demanding vocation, many go above and beyond to make a difference.

But — and you knew there had to be a but — their union leadership needs to seriously reassess its position in ongoing contract talks.

Teachers are approaching these talks from two perspectives at the same time.

The first is the ideological perspective — investing in policies that will improve learning outcomes, things like class size and composition.

The second is from the more typical workplace perspective of improving compensation — things like wages and benefits.

What they fail to understand is that they should consider themselves extremely fortunate to gain even tiny bit on either front.

As public-sector unions will be quick to tell you, this is a time of restraint. Expecting significant gains on both fronts will get teachers exactly where it has got them so far — nowhere.

This is a government that wants to find new ways to save money, not spend it, a government that thinks teachers are amply compensated already and a government that believes it, not the teachers’ union, is in charge of the education of B.C. children.

Local union rep Shellie Trimble talks about the government failing to meet the teachers halfway and she’s right.

The government is not interested in the traditional bargaining model of looking at the teachers’ proposal, then giving ground in some areas while gaining ground in others. The government is operating from an end position of, “This is the amount of money we are willing to spend; how do you want to divide it up?’ ”

The teachers’ union would be better off picking one horse to ride — the classroom would sell better than their wages — taking what it can get for a short term, and waiting for a more favourable government.

Their members would be happier and the wait might not be long.

Cowichan News Leader