Come now, let us reason together

A few questions from a nonagenarian who readily admits his mind is not as sharp as it used to be in grasping facts and/or situations.

Premier Christy Clark seemed to get a little carried away when she decided to join the mud-slinging troops in the forefront of the current unseemly shout-fest between the provincial government of British Columbia and the school teacher’s union. She waxed eloquent on her claim that the BC Teachers’ Federation was trying to bargain for “unlimited massages” for those suffering classroom stress in addition to demanding a $5,000 per teacher signing bonus.

Union President Jim Iker loftily replied teachers had never asked for unlimited massage benefits, but for only $500 to $700 and only up to $3,000 for members in chronic pain but “we had to take that off the table.”

So I’m wondering, and rank and file union members should be wondering, who put “massage benefits” on the table in the first place? Surely not the teachers who insist they hit the bricks solely to benefit their student?

Then there’s the matter of the $5,000 signing bonus. It started last June when the conflict was in its infancy and the government dangled a $1,200 carrot to every teacher signing a deal to end the strike. Many teachers expressed disgust, termed the offer an insulting bribe and suggested the money be rolled into a wage increase.

Jim Iker echoed his membership’s  protest ­and then bewildered both membership and government negotiators by asking for the signing bonus insult to be increased to $5,000 for every teacher. Was he suggesting teacher’s couldn’t be bribed with $1,200 but that $5,000 might be acceptable?

Signing bonuses are not new in industry or sport where rival companies or teams bid for rare expertise. The fewer the experts for a specific position, the larger the signing bonus enticement. A line-up of qualified people for the job, the lower or non-existence of the bonus.

The government withdrew its monetary carrot some weeks ago; the silly BCTF demand appears to have faded in the haze of summer. Is it possible that both sides have suddenly realized there is no shortage of teachers flowing annually from BC Universities and looking for work in BC classrooms where the average pay for a Category 5 teacher (a bachelor’s degree) is $47,359 up to maximum of $74,353 for roughly a nine month year.  

Not a King’s ransom, but in job scarce times plus a decent medical-dental plan, a pension at age 60 averaging $35,400 a year (2013), with a few extra bargained benefits, not a bad occupation and life style. And lots of recruits ready to apply.

Seems to me the BCTF needs to focus on one main priority: class composition and the need solve the dilemma of how to best teach children with special needs. And the government needs to listen to the teachers on that serious classroom problem – and between them, with students back in the classrooms, resolve it.

After that they can decide who gets the best massage.

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