Why do teachers’ unions punish the kids?

By Stephen Rhodes

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are at odds with Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty and his new-found buddy Conservative leader Tim Hudak and it’s clear they haven’t got much of a strategy on how to present their position.

Legislation was passed on Tuesday freezing teachers salaries, cutting back sick days and banning strikes. The two unions don’t much like the way the Legislature has side-stepped the collective bargaining process and, in fact, there is likely to be a court challenge over the issue.

Muddying the water is the fact that the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and French-language teachers signed a similar deal weeks ago that would also halve their sick days to 10 annually, end unused sick days from being cashed out at retirement, and impose three unpaid days off.

McGuinty says he has no choice but to belt-tighten as the government struggles with a $14.8-billion deficit;  funny since he is the guy who has increased teachers’ compensation by 25 per cent since 2004. Has your salary gone up……nevermind.

Maybe it was the heat of the moment once the legislation passed or just temporary insanity, but the OSSTF and the ETFO decided to take action – punishing the kids by withdrawing from extracurricular activities once a week. I know, you are thinking once a week, no big deal, right?

If it isn’t, then why bother? Unfortunately,  it sends a signal; one that has been at the center of every battle between the teachers’ unions and government since the first teachers’ strike. Kids have always been the sacrificial lamb, bait, cannon fodder, whatever you want to call it, in labour disputes between teachers and governments.

It’s just bad strategy for unions to keep pointing that out to us.

I know a lot of teachers and I don’t know one who is comfortable sacrificing kids in a labour dispute. If this is all they got for strategy, the unions deserve what they get.

Photo Michelle Siu/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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