Opinion

Guest View: Simple math for teachers

Whatever the final government deal is with the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF), and whenever it's settled, the BCTF must quit opposing economic growth if it ever hopes to accomplish its long-term salary and class size goals.

Most taxpayers, understandably, are not interested in shelling out more money to the government. There has been no public rush to open wallets for big raises for teachers – or any other government sector union.

The BCTF's long-held desire to go back to year 2000 tax levels in order to fund raises for its teachers, would gut most families financially – B.C. budget documents show a two-income family of four, making $90,000 per year, would pay $6,234 a year in provincial income tax, nearly double what they pay today.

Taxpayers can't afford that kind of hike, and the B.C. government knows it. That's why they are focusing on growing the B.C. economy, in order to generate more money from sources other than Joe and Jane Taxpayer.

But here the BCTF's chickens have come home to roost: the BCTF, inexplicably and wildly overstepping its bounds as a union meant to represent the interests of teachers at the bargaining table, has come out against virtually every significant economic development project proposed in B.C.

Why would the teachers' union pass a motion against the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would generate $1.2 billion for B.C. taxpayers over its first three decades in operation? How could that possibly serve the interests of its members, who want higher wages and smaller classes – things that revenue could help address?

How did it serve the teachers' union to reject the Prosperity Mine in the Chilcotin, which would have generated $5.52 billion in new tax revenue for the province, plus another $4.3 billion for the federal government?

Why would the teachers' union oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal, months before any plan had been released?

Yet the BCTF opposed all of these economic development measures.

The BCTF flag flew high at an anti-fracking rally in Vancouver – yes, the union opposed the fledgling liquefied natural gas industry too.

Why would the BCTF join Occupy Vancouver, protesting against the same wealth-generating corporations their teachers' pensions are heavily invested in: TD Bank ($155.7m in pension investments), ScotiaBank ($124.3m), RBC ($166.7m), Bank of Montreal ($75.2m) and Bell Canada ($61.2m)?

The BCTF opposed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Yet, the BCTF fought it – with no thought given to the $140 million their pension has invested in Chinese state-controlled companies.

Despite actively opposing all of these economic drivers, the BCTF still cries poor, noting teachers start here with a salary of $49,410, way behind Alberta's $58,500.

Alberta teachers have benefitted from Alberta's economic growth, so it's probably no surprise the Alberta Teachers' Association isn't out campaigning against the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Want a raise, B.C. teachers? Want to address class size and composition? Then quit fighting every economic (and tax revenue growing) opportunity that comes B.C.'s way. Cause and effect – it's a lesson you taught us.

Jordan Bateman is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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