I am a new long-term occasional teacher at Fort Frances High School and I am involved in the current strike.
Since I began my position at the beginning of the second semester, I have spent more than 100 hours costuming for the musical, “Les Misérables,” and worked with the Literacy Team. I also act as teacher supervisor for the school newspaper and I teach a full class schedule.
The only thing that differentiates me from a full-time teacher is my contract. It does not include any personal leave or compassionate leave days, or, more importantly, benefits.
My concern is not money. Rather, it lies with the ability of occasional teachers to bargain. Not all of the current occasional teachers are retired. Several are young, myself included, and inexperienced when it comes to collective bargaining.
Those people who are being criticized for being retired and “double-dipping” actually are working to secure a future for the young teachers. The issue here is ensuring the occasional teachers will receive a guaranteed pay increase as the cost of living inflates.
Once this is settled, occasional teachers could move on to collectively bargain for other things—benefits for long-term occasional teachers being one of them.
It is very discouraging to see the hard work of our experienced members being criticized and the responsibilities of occasional teachers being devalued. Not only that, but I am sure my students would resent the implications that they need a babysitter.
I believe the issues here are not being clearly understood, and I hope that the board and the public soon will see this strike in another light.
Fort Frances, Ont.