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Ontario Teacher Strike is about Democracy
"Every day I wake up on the wrong side of capitalism," Lewenza declares. "And every day I wake up knowing there are more people with me. Enough of us are waking up to fight back."
"The evidence is just about bulletproof: When union membership thrives, so does the middle class. Over the past 18 month, studies by Harvard University, the non-partisan Center for American Progress (CAP), the union-backed Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C., and the Pew Research Center, also in Washington, have shown an incontrovertible correlation between the rate of unionization and the percentage of the nation's total wealth held by the middle class."
The Toronto Star, Is Decline of unions leading to decline of the middle class?, by Antonia Zerbisias, published on August 31, 2012.
There is no doubt in my mind that without unions be will eventually revert to the 1930s era of labour relations (and pre 1930s). Labour laws will not be enough to protect workers from the voracious appetites of hungry, profit maximizing, endless growth seeking, unsustainable corporations. They can afford better lawyers than we can.
That is why I support this strike. It's not about money. It's not even about sick days and retirement gratuities (see more on this later). It's about a government that passes a law that undermines our right to collective bargaining, this is setting a precedent for all workers.
Protecting democracy is about our kids - it's about their future. I want my kids to live in a world where they are protected from unfair and unsafe labour practices. The shift away from fair labour relations began long ago, with Walmart and other box stores and it will continue until the gap between rich and poor can grow no more. Canadian, American and multi-national companies are involved in extremely poor, abusive and sometimes murderous treatment of workers in countries where there are no unions to protect the people. This can happen again here if we let it.
The strike is about fighting a government that is prorogued in times of discomfort in order to avoid their responsibilities to the public.
It's about governments (provincial and federal) who pass omnibus bills pushing through dangerous and disturbing legislation to further their own interests.
This is also about the misinformation the the government is feeding the public. Some newspapers ferret this out, like in this article in the Ottawa Citizen regarding retirement gratuities.
This is also about remembering basic decency and human rights theory, people who are treated with respect feel better about their jobs, about themselves and perform better. What is the government modelling here?
Here is some information on the more nitty gritty details of the issues.
Read this article by People For Education about the problem with bookkeeping. The Ministry shows all potential sick days as liabilities as part of the deficit. The reality is that most teachers don't use up all those sick days so they are not really liabilities. The cost of the gratuity is less than the cost of using the sick days (see below).
The reality is that strike is the only option left. The government likes to state that they tried to bargain and the unions walked away, but that is patently untrue. The unions are welcome to bargain if, and only if, they meet the terms set out in the OECTA Memorandum of Understanding. (In case you didn't know this, provincial OECTA sold out their members, agreeing to a deal without ratification from a single local).
Back to the issue of sick days and retirement gratuities, here is a well spoken comment made on a blog post:
"The 200 days banked is merely the level needed to get the gratuity. Most teachers have much more than that. What most people fail to understand is that it is in the Board's (and taxpayer's) best interest to encourage teachers to bank as many as possible. For every day a teacher is away, the public needs to pay both the teacher who is off sick and a supply teacher. I have banked over 320 sick days in my career so far - the cost to the taxpayer if I had used those days instead of banking them? - $192,000.I know at this point, logical, fiscal arguments don't usually help, so let me make it more personal. This year I had a bout of pneumonia and was away for quite sometime. Would you, as a parent, really want me in the classroom/school infecting your child and possibly hundreds of others? If I'm not there, what would you have done for your child? Send them to the library? Gym? How would it sound if you were told, "No math class today. my teacher was off sick."?"
by Wayne Scott Ng onhttp://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/index.php/blog/read/reality-bites/
I will add the caveat that unions need to clean up their side of the street also. They must weed out greed and corruption within their ranks (I sense another more philosophical post on human nature coming).