At our New Teacher Welcome that we held back on October 9th, there was a comment that struck me as important enough that it warrants addressing. Basically the comment was this: “Bill-28 doesn’t affect me because I still get a raise each year”.
This exemplifies the challenges we face in getting our younger members to fully understand the challenges that Public Education in Manitoba is facing. Why get involved if I’m not affected?
Firstly, I’ll address the question of pay. Basically it boils down to this; instead of getting an increment in addition to a general increase, you are receiving an increase of roughly half of what your predecessors have received. But please keep in mind that, in the big picture, it really isn’t about pay.
Some people will accuse “The Union” of being only interested in lining our own pockets byth increasing teacher salaries. Let’s be clear, the problem is much bigger than salaries. You will see your classrooms that are already crowded, increase in size in the upcoming years. That combined with a decrease in supports (EAs, for example) for our students that need it, will translate into a very challenging learning environment for your students. As a new(er) teacher, your job is challenging enough. Funding cuts are going to make it even harder. So what can you do?
- Stay informed. Attend RETTA council meetings, call the RETTA office if you have questions about what’s going on. Be prepared so you can have those discussions with friends and family who aren’t in education.
- Volunteer. Be politically active in the party of your choice. You might not be super interested in politics but “Just because you are not interested in politics doesn’t mean politics isn’t interested in you” ~Pericles
- Be active on social media. Follow RETTA, MTS, your local and provincial presidents and vice-presidents, the Manitoba Federation of Labour, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, and other teacher organizations. Retweet, “like”, and forward.
- Write a letter to your MLA, or visit them. Make sure they know your name and that you are a teacher and a voter. Remember that you don’t speak on behalf of teachers, but absolutely feel free to tell them about your own personal experiences as a teacher and/or parent. Ask MLAs tough questions. Check with your principal and perhaps invite them to your school.