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Union loathing

Dear editor:

I would be remiss if I did not take issue or offer response to the recent slanted, biased, steaming load of rubbish and drivel thinly veiled as “journalism” in last week’s edition of From the Publisher’s Pen (“You Must Respect Others,” June 15).

In his column, the publisher attempts to make the argument that the local high school teachers will be boycotting the upcoming graduation ceremony, and that this action marks a sign of disrespect to both the students and their “tax-paying parents”–as though the inference that this is a tax issue was warranted, for some reason.

This is certainly a conclusion within the realm of plausibility that one might make. It is one way of examining the issue. However, if one truly desires an unbiased analysis, one must be willing to look at all sides of an issue, not just one.

The teachers have been without a contract for almost two full years now. They have been engaged in strike action since April. They have had mediators and negotiators time and again attempting to negotiate a reasonable contract.

None of which have proven successful to reach a deal to date, unfortunately.

Withdrawing support from the grad ceremony is a significant action. One must ask themselves, though, what is it about this board that has pushed the teachers to such drastic action? Could the actions of the board have not played a part in this, too, Mr. Publisher?

The central theme that the teachers keep coming back to is respect. It is true that “respect” is more difficult to quantify or analyze tangibly than, say, a two percent raise, a classroom size, or a particular number of sick days. But could it not be possible, Mr. Publisher, that this board continues to not show our secondary school teachers the respect in the workplace that they so fundamentally deserve?

Is it not possible that the actions of the board–or lack thereof–have pushed these teachers to this? Personally, my experience with our local teachers that I have met is that they are, by and large, caring, compassionate, intelligent human beings. I would not think that this decision was one that was made rashly or lightly by them.

To borrow your phrase, Mr. Publisher, “clearly in this case” the assigning of blame to only one side here only serves to indicate lazy, sloppy, biased writing in my opinion.

Being a fellow who values the pursuit of knowledge, and strives to seek evidence-based conclusions (or at least seek evidence before making conclusions), I approached some of the teachers on Monday to ask them directly about your column.

What I was told was rather insightful. The teachers are more than welcome to attend the ceremony and are, in fact, encouraged to. Whether their child is graduating or not has zero bearing on the situation.

But at an administration-organized function, I was told by the teachers that it just does not make sense to proudly stand arm-in-arm with the administration at the ceremony given the significance of the outstanding issues and given the gravity of their unrest.

Mr. Publisher, I wish you would have consulted with some of these teachers before drawing your own conclusions. Does their perspective make sense at all to you now?

In my opinion, this inaccurate, blatantly one-sided claptrap is a betrayal of the journalistic integrity that the reader should expect from a person who holds such a senior position within our local media.

It’s one thing to have disdain for unions in general. It’s another to use one’s position to try and promote such ideological claptrap and ill-informed conclusions on the reading public.

I’m not one to tell others how to do their job but if I were you, I would probably print a retraction accompanied with an apology for this nonsense.

Lovingly yours,

Matt Soprovich

Fort Frances, Ont.

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