LETTER: What is a fair deal?

Other professionals have moved out of B.C. to find better paying work

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.

Apparently both sides have decided that facts are overrated and that what is important is winning the public relations 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.

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 point of view 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 B.C. teacher’s salaries to teacher’s salaries in other provinces?

Consider that Vancouver has, in some industries, suffered a brain drain to Calgary when professionals in those industries who want the higher ($30,000-plus) salaries and lower housing costs in Calgary move to Calgary.

If a B.C. 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.

It seems to me that for purposes of “fair” it is not the wages of teachers in other provinces that is of importance.

Rather “fair,” in respect to B.C. 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 B.C. teacher salary, according to the teachers union, $71,485; eight per cent 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 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 (and other government employees and politicians) requires salary and benefits be cut.

James W Breckenridge