||Volume 18, Number 7, May/June 2006
The very day this edition of Teacher went to press, the government and opposition MLAs unanimously passed Bill 33.
The legislation, as we know, is by no means perfect and it absolutely must be accompanied by adequate funding. However, there is no doubt that it is a significant gain, one that would not have been achieved without the courage and commitment of teachers across the province.
You took a strong stand last fall and compelled the government to acknowledge the crisis in class size and composition. Throughout the winter you continued speaking out, lobbying your MLAs, building alliances in your communities, and maintaining strong public support.
As a result, in spring the government acted on its commitments and passed the much-needed amendments to The School Act. We still have a lot of work to do in implementing them, and we will do that together as summer approaches.
At the same time, we are continuing to press our case at the bargaining table for a significant salary increase. You know we have fallen behind. How far? BC teachers’ salaries are eighth in Canada. We are already 18% behind our colleagues in Edmonton. Senior teachers like me would receive an additional $20,000 and double the prep time if we moved to teach in Ontario.
The recent inter-provincial trade agreement signed by BC and Alberta allows our teachers and other professionals to work in Alberta without having to do anything to re-certify. If BC wants to prevent an exodus of highly trained people across the Rockies, it will have to provide competitive salaries.
We know we need a significant salary increase. As teachers we are very comfortable advocating for our students and our profession. But we are shy about advocating for ourselves, especially when it’s related to money.
Right now our unity and commitment are needed to achieve parity. We owe it to ourselves, our colleagues (present and future), and to public education to negotiate competitive salaries and benefits so we can attract and retain the very high calibre teachers in our schools.
We cannot and must not apologize for wanting a competitive salary that’s commensurate with our education, skills, and responsibilities.