Thu, Jan
10
2013

Why I Support the Teachers, Even Though Tomorrow Promises to be a Big Fat Pain in the Ass

Thu, Jan 10, 2013

hours-in-negotiations.jpg

The graphic on the right illustrates the reason why, nicely.

I await the ruling of the Ontario Labour Relations Board over whether tomorrow's "Day of Protest" action by Ontario's English public elementary school teachers constitutes an illegal strike, but whatever the ruling, I have to say that I am far more inclined to blame the McGuinty government for this current mess than I am rank and file teachers, or even the union executive.

I had plans tomorrow, and they are now scrubbed. I expect I'll be taking care of my kids, and possibly other neighbourhood kids of parents who have far less flexibility than I do. I sympathize with the frustration that is out there, and I fear that the union risks a significant loss in public support if they continue to use these tactics. At the same time, I cannot help but wonder what else teachers are supposed to do?

I don't believe that the McGuinty government has been negotiating in good faith, here. They talked for a lot longer to our province's doctors, other teachers, and certainly the bulk of the public service, and they were able to secure decent deals that have avoided workplace action. Given the disparity of the numbers in the graphic, I cannot believe that the McGuinty government even tried to talk to elementary school teachers. Instead, they lowered the boom. They imposed legislation before even beginning serious negotiations and, when negotiations didn't take place (surprise, surprise -- how do you negotiate with someone who has pointed a loaded gun at you?), they imposed a contract. 

In our democratic system, we have a right to freedom of association. We have a right to work together and negotiate the best deal possible with our employers. We also have a right to speak up and express our displeasure when the government moves in ways we don't like. I'll leave it up to the Labour Relations Board over whether tomorrow's action by teachers is an illegal strike, but I don't blame the teachers for protesting. Not at all.


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