||Volume 22, Number 7, May/June 2010
A bridge or no bridge
While the pension issue has been dealt with at the AGM, I for one, feel some issues still need to be addressed.
[AGM] Recommendation #44 is a betrayal of members who have accrued, or will accrue, their 35 years of pensionable service. They have played by the rules and are rightly entitled to make no further contributions at that point. Some would say that further contributions to the IAA would be to their benefit. Perhaps. But I would say the contributions are designed for the benefit of those that retire early. If you are going to change the rules of the game for one set of members, then they should be changed for all. Get rid of the bridge benefit.
Yes, I know that is a controversial statement. However, hear me out. Two of our raises in this five-year contract are being effectively wiped out by pension issues. Why is that? We had an unfunded liability in the general fund and a projected shortfall in the IAA. Why is there an unfunded liability? Quite simply, teachers are retiring earlier and living longer, thus drawing more pension benefits than has historically been the case. In fact, all things being equal, a person retiring at 57 or 60 could draw more from the fund than those that choose to retire at 65. Recommendation #44 basically is asking older teachers to subsidize the indexing portion of this early retirement.
I've always been against the bridge benefit. Retiring early is a wonderful thing, if that's what you want and can afford to do. If you choose that path, you should have been saving outside of the plan to make that economically feasible. The plan shouldn't subsidize early retirement. I suspect the unfunded liability would be substantially lower were it not for the bridge benefit. Furthermore, as there is a shortfall predicted for the IAA, indexing shouldn't begin until 65.
There is no free ride in life and if we continue down this path, younger teachers and those yet to join teaching are going to be faced with intolerable deductions off their pay cheques. So....you want to change the rules of the game? Then make it equitable for all.
Martin Lee, Quesnel
A lasting memory
While reading your March 2010 issue, I was delighted to discover that a Vancouver elementary school has been named for Miss Elsie Roy!
She deserved this accolade and every one she ever earned, as she was instrumental in developing an excellent Primary Program in all Vancouver schools in the 1950s and 1960s.
I must be one of the few people still around who taught for her. I was employed at David Lloyd George Elementary School in 1954 and 1955 as a Grade 2 teacher.
She ran a “tight ship” in Vancouver at that time. She insisted that every primary teacher follow her excellent programs, mainly in language arts. She was instrumental in developing a strong phonics program for primary grades, for which I will always be grateful.
All teachers new to the district were required to attend weekly after-school classes at the Vancouver School Board offices. During this time, she showed us how to obtain the best pupil results. We often had to bring samples of class work.
Miss Roy obviously took the job of supervisor very seriously. She visited all the primary classrooms, and was famous for her trick of backing you up to your class so she could observe the mayhem when the teacher wasn’t looking.
Her creative ideas for education stayed with me throughout my 39-year teaching career and the 10 years of retirement when I was tutoring.
I remember her as a tall, thin, dark-haired lady who was a dedicated teacher first. She strictly required that her methods were used universally, but was kind and had a warm sense of humour.
Elsie Roy Elementary School can be very proud of her contribution to BC education.
Joan Boyd, Saanich
Response to young teacher
I would like to respond to the letter sent in by Ellen McDonnell, Young Teachers Need A Break (Teacher, April 2010). First off, I agree with Ms McDonnell that retired teachers should not be taking away jobs from younger teachers. I had never heard of the acronym TTOC until recently. That in itself says alot. When teachers retire they should do just that. I realize that there are unique circumstances that might require a retired teacher to supplement their income by TTOCing but it seems that many retired teachers immediately get on the TTOC list to help pay for travel expenses. The young teachers are often caught in a Catch 22, they have to be available to be called as TTOCs so cannot work at another job while waiting to be hired as a full-time teacher. Some have had to move back home because of this situation. Also, retired teachers cost more to hire so I am wondering why school districts would not want to have young teachers? It doesn’t make sense economically.
Today with the challenges that teaching brings, it really is a job that should attract young, enthusiastic, energetic individuals to the profession. Let's give the young teachers an opportunity to fill the positions that retired teachers vacate.
Joanne Nokleby, Cultus Lake
Letter of thanks from Chilean teachers
We are writing in thanks for the solidarity from your teachers for teachers in Chile affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
The education system was affected with the destruction of 4,000 schools. At least 480 teachers have been left homeless and 281 have suffered serious damage. Just yesterday, the students most affected in the central and southern regions returned to school.
The policy is to “normalize” the return to school despite poor conditions. Many schools are operating in tents or in private homes.
The government is taking this as an opportunity to merge public schools into private schools, dismissing teachers and cutting working days. In short, it is using this tragedy to further consolidate privatization and labour flexibility.
It is in this context that we want to thank you for the support you have given us. That, of course, has served to reduce the gaps and needs that the huge earthquake and tsunami left us. Your gesture and generosity has the gratitude of all Chilean teachers.
In the first stage, we have detailed the count of victims and material damage and provided concrete assistance with food, clothing, medicines, etc. All teachers are donating 0.5% of their salary a month for a disaster fund. We also have various solidarity campaigns aimed at delivering aid to our students.
Reiterating our gratitude for your support and solidarity in difficult times for our country, we send a fraternal embrace on behalf of all the Chilean teachers.
Sergio Gajardo Campos, Secretary General; Jaime Gajardo Orellana, National President; Jorge Pavez, National Executive
[Note: The BCTF International Solidarity Committee approved a grant of $5,000 for the Chilean teachers.]