It is a sad commentary on our democratic society when one refrains from making public comment that runs counter to the apparent majority for fear of backlash or reprisals against one's children. However, after one week of the teacher's illegal strike and no end in sight, I have decided I have to comment.
I am very much opposed to this illegal work stoppage that the teachers are staging, although there are parts of Bill 160 that I have trouble with. The teachers have a contract with the Board of Education and they have broken their contract by illegally leaving the classroom—they are not in contract negotiations with the board. The board has given tacit approval to the strike by their lack of movement to get the teachers back into the classrooms. I applaud the integrity of a teacher in the Hamilton-Wentworth Board that is in his classroom who, although he does not agree with Bill 160, feels he has a contract with his employer that he has to honour and their are other ways to deal with Bill 160.
This strike is much more about power and money—the perceived loss of power by the unions and the possible loss of money by the school boards if the government sets the tax rate—than the quality of education. The obvious support of other unions has made this an issue of union power rather than quality of education.
Some picket signs say that “cuts hurt kids.” The students are being used as pawns in this process. Those students in Grade 12 and OAC who are looking to apply to college and university for this fall are going to be in difficulty if this illegal strike lasts much longer. Possibly the school year will have to be lengthened to make up the lost time which will mean less time for working.
I feel the teachers need to honour their contracts by getting back to work and sitting down to negotiate with the government rather than demanding certain things be removed from the bill.