By James Breckenridge. The teachers have adopted the slogan “Fair Deal” in their campaign to sell the public on the idea that a raise in teacher’s wages is fair and deserved.

The government’s response has been a campaign to convince the public that the teacher’s demands are unreasonable and unfair.

Negotiations? Point/Counterpoint? Reality/Economic Reality?

Apparently both sides have decided that facts are overrated and that what is important is winning the PR campaign to woo the public to their side. Sadly, the public’s behaviour suggests that it is PR that is important and facts of little interest or use.

I have been told that I am too rational on matters of public policy and spending and that I – erroneously – expect others to analyze issues and problems rationally and then act in a rational manner.

When someone labels their demands as a ‘Fair Deal’ I cannot avoid pondering just what ‘Fair’ means in this context and what a ‘Fair Deal’ is under the circumstances and within the framework of that context.

What does Fair mean?

Free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision;


1. disposed to lie [lie: something intended or serving to convey a false impression].

2. proceeding from or exhibiting a lack of honesty; fraudulent: a dishonest advertisement.

When you attach ‘Fair’ to something that represents your point of view, you have attached ‘Fair’ to something biased to your point of view.

When ‘Fair’ is part of a pitch to sell your point of view to the public and use the public to force the government to give in … you are using the term ‘Fair’ to convey – or serving to convey – an impression your POV is ‘Fair’.

Advertising slogans, advertising campaigns, are about self interest. They are by their nature, biased and intended to convey/create an impression favourable to the advertiser and thus not ‘Fair’.

Ask yourself the question: is it ‘Fair’, for purposes of salary and benefits negotiation, to compare BC teacher’s salaries to teacher’s salaries in other provinces? Do the results of comparing BC teacher salaries to teacher salaries in other provinces have any meaning?

Consider that Vancouver has, in some industries, suffered a ‘brain drain’ to Calgary when professionals in those industries who want the higher [$30,000+] salaries and lower housing costs in Calgary move to Calgary.

If a BC teacher wants to make the salary of an Alberta teacher, let them do as other professionals seeking the same wages as Alberta professionals – move to Alberta [or Manitoba, or Ontario].

It seems to me that for purpose of ‘Fair’ it is not the wages of teachers in other provinces that is of importance.

Rather ‘Fair’, in respect to BC teacher’s salaries and benefits, demands that the wages and economic health of the taxpayers who pay the salaries of teachers be used to judge the appropriateness – the fairness – of teacher’s wages.

The average BC teacher salary, according to the teachers union, $71,485 ; 8% represents a salary increase of $5,720. Plus benefits, which include an overly generous pension.

Ironically, while the majority of British Columbians, outside of government employees, will be unable to afford to retire and forced to continue to work – lacking as they do a fat public funded pension – during their non-retirement years the taxes of these non-retirees will fund the comfortable retirement of teachers and other public service workers.

The fact is, the reality is, that when you use the wages and economic health of those who pay the wages and benefits of teachers to determine ‘Fair’, the inescapable conclusion one arrives at is that a ‘Fair’ salary for teachers [other government employees and politicians] requires salary and benefits be cut.

Ironic, that in introducing the concept of ‘Fair’ into the salary negotiations [even though it is clear teachers meant ‘Fair to the Teachers’ and not ‘Fair to the Taxpayers’] teachers have, for those who take the time to consider the question of ‘Fair’, highlighted the fact that ‘Fair’ wages/economic health need to be judged in the context of the wages and economic health of those from whose pockets and paycheques comes the money to pay teachers salaries.

Doubly ironic in that, in the context of ‘Fair’ to taxpayers, teacher’s salaries should be cut – after all, ‘Fair’ should be ‘Fair’.

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