Union shouldn’t negotiate class sizes

Letter-writer argues teachers union has a conflict of interest in bargaining class size issue

On Tuesday night, 28,809 teachers out of 41,000, about 70 per cent of them,  voted to escalate their job action to a full scale walkout, all for the sake of the children, of course.

It’s such a shame that they can’t put this action aside for a mere two-and-a-half weeks and see our children through to the end of the year and hammer out their differences during the summer.

The sticking points seem to largely be wages and class sizes, with class sizes overshadowing wages.

Teachers work hard and the $40-80,000 wage range I’ve heard is a good wage, considering they get a lot of time off. But it isn’t excessive by today’s standards.

An educated population is essential in today’s economy, both to the individual and society as a whole.

Governments must balance spending on education with health care and other social spending which is properly set by government policy. Class sizes impact the budget in a huge way, more so than wage increases. Because of that, class sizes should be set by government policy and fought at the ballot box.

The class size issue should not be set, or even negotiated, by the union. They have a direct conflict of interest in doing so.

If a teacher earning $60,000 a year gets a two-per-cent wage increase, that’s an extra $1,200 per year of which the union claims 1.69 per cent, or approximately $20 per year. But if you create a new union position at $60,000 a year, that’s an extra $1,014 a year – much more valuable to the union.

I believe this was a bad decision by the courts to support the appeal. If the teacher’s union is successful, you’ll have all the unions wanting to set staffing levels under the guise of working conditions because the precedent will have been set. Watch out taxpayer.

Bob Broughton

Saanich