Friday, 7 September 2012

Ontario Teaching - A History Lesson

There was a National Post article that a friend of mine pointed out earlier today, which set me off to a greater extent than I would have thought possible. It basically said "union members look bad in the public eye". Which... honestly, after some thought and discussion on my FB account, I cannot disagree with. But that wasn't what set me off. What I CAN disagree with though (and WILL) is the remark in the article stating, and I quote, "Ontario's teachers have essentially rolled over in the face of Premier Dalton McGuinty's austerity agenda". It's not so much a roll-over as a head on collision.

But before I can even address that, I've realized (also through discussion) that I have to actually explain what's been going on for those of you who don't actually know a teacher. I'm going to do this with humour, and an allegory, for three reasons:
 1. I do my best work with humour, it will probably keep people reading, and it will keep me from getting too emotional. (I am NOT doing this to make light of the issues.)
 2. The allegory will lay things out in a slightly less technical sense, so you don't have to understand all the details of union negotiation. For that matter, I'm no expert either.
 3. By satirizing everything, you won't know where I'm using hyperbole, thus I'm presenting the arcing idea without claiming any of this is fact. Because none of it is fact, it's all fanfic, and none of it actually applies to the education system. Except the bits that do.

Note I'm also human. PLEASE comment if you believe I HAVE said something that looks out of line. I will try to fix it.

Please also pass this on if you find it partly educational as to what's been going on the last eight months or so in the province of Ontario. We seem to be fast going the way of BC (which I grant I'm still reading up on).

So let's meet our allegory:
 - PepsiCo, the governing body of the following companies*:
 - Taco Bell (TB), Pizza Hut (PH) and KFC
 - Each company has their own Sets of Various Stores
 - Each store also has their individual Employees

* I know PepsiCo don't run those anymore. You saw this was an allegory, yes?

YEAR 2004
 TB STORES: Here's our opening position. In particular, we want to stop having that annoying chihuahua featured in ads.
 Taco Bell: We might agree to that, if you start wearing funny hats.
 PH STORES: Here's our opening position. We have a particular pet peeve.
 Pizza Hut: Ha, yeah, we're not ditching the Star Wars toys. But we might scale back if you agree to using less pepperoni.
 KFC STORES: Here's our opening position. The Colonel should be promoted to a General.
 KFC: I like it! But PepsiCo controls the money, and we have no money to rebrand. So let's talk.
(Local negotiations ensue)
 TB/PH/KFC & STORES: We've reached an agreement!
 PEPSICO: Looks good!

YEAR 2008
 TB STORES: Here's our...
 PEPSICO: Hey, guys? We'd like to offer up a framework here. The money's coming from us, after all.
 EVERYONE ELSE: Uhhhh.... okay? What've you got?
 PEPSICO: This picture, hanging in all the stores.
 KFC STORES: Yeah, but no. We'll bargain locally.
 KFC: Let's bargain then.
 TB+PH STORES: Eh, I guess a picture is fine.
 TB/PH: Yeah, we can work with that. Time to bargain locally?
(Local negotiations ensue)
 TB/PH/KFC & STORES: We've reached an agreement!
 PEPSICO: Looks good!

 TB STORES: Here's...
 PEPSICO: Hey, guys? Framework time again.
 EVERYONE ELSE: Okay, what've you got?
 PEPSICO LAWYERS: You will all wear funny hats. You will all serve at least fifty percent vegetables. You will all work through your lunches.
 STORES: ...wait, lawyers? Do you guys actually know anything about fast food?
 PEPSICO LAWYERS: You will all wear funny hats. You will all serve at least fifty percent vegetables. You will all work through your lunches.
 TB+PH STORES: Can we... talk to someone who's not a lawyer?
 TB/PH/KFC: We're not sure about this either. Maybe we should just have local barg--
 TB+PH STORES: We're leaving too.
 EMPLOYEES: There's something funny going on here.

 PEPSICO: C'mon back guys! We were kidding earlier. It's not just lawyers now.
 KFC STORES: Kidding? It was a poor joke.
 TB+PH STORES: O...kay... well, we've actually been working on our own counterproposal. We'll agree to the funny hats, but not the vegetables. Instead of vegetables, we figure we can supplement with fruits.
 PEPSICO & LAWYERS: You will all wear funny hats. You will all serve at least fifty percent vegetables. You will all work through your lunches.
 TB+PH STORES: No, see, this is where we negotiate those terms.
 PEPSICO & LAWYERS: You will all wear funny hats. You will all serve at least fifty percent vegetables. You will all work through your lunches.
 TB+PH STORES: This is not a negotiation.
 PEPSICO & LAWYERS: Well... it's at least the appearance of such.
 TB/PH: We're not exactly thrilled either here...
 TB/PH: ...but keep talking, you never know...
 EMPLOYEES: I feel like we're being bullied.
 OTHER EMPLOYEES: People know it's not just the counter staff in these stores, right? Hello?

YEAR 2012 - JUNE
 STORES: We should start thinking strike vote. But we cannot legally have one yet.
 EMPLOYEES: Keep us up to date, we're closing the store for the night.

YEAR 2012 - JULY
 TACO BELL: We're just stepping out for a smoke, brb.
 TB STORES: You know, maybe the deal isn't THAT bad, and once we get this framework stuff done, we can do the local bargaining.
 TACO BELL: Wait, what now? You're talking to the stores behind our back?
 PH+KFC STORES: Wait, what now?
 PH STORES: No, listen - about vegetables, we can't just put more lettuce on tacos here, we sell pizza.
 KFC STORES: Tell us about it.
 MEDIA: It's all fast food, isn't it?
 PH+KFC STORES: Oh, right, PepsiCo's shouting brought the media in... where's our PR guy?

 PEPSICO: Store employees are unwilling to wear our funny hats in these dire times.
 PH STORES: Uh, actually we agreed to wear the--
 MEDIA: Oh, that's shameful.
 PH STORES: Someone check, we released a memo about the hats, yes? Or is that strike one?
 PEPSICO: Now they're going on STRIKE. We must force them back to work.
 STORES: Pepsico, you're twisting our words.
 MEDIA: Strikes are bad. Do something.
 EMPLOYEES: Uh, I was pretty sure we were going to open the stores in the morning.
 STORES: Enough is enough. We're going back to local bargaining.
 PH/KFC: Uhm... about that...
 PEPSICO: We have this bill called "CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT" to deal with those employees who took the night off. It's so serious we're calling back our executives early.
 EMPLOYEES: Night off? The store was CLOSED!
 OTHER EMPLOYEES: Funny enough, we're still in there cleaning it for morning. Hello? Anyone listening?
 STORES: Um, normal procedure would be to send things to arbitration, not create a bill...
 CRUSHCO: We will support PepsiCo in this venture.
 COKECO: If you ask us, PepsiCo is pandering.
 MEDIA: This is officially BIG NEWS.
 STORES: Hold the phone! This bill doesn't merely remove a nonexistent strike, it forces the Taco Bell agreement on all of us, regardless of whether we're an urban or rural store, and prevents any opportunity to challenge it. That's a terrible precedent. What happened to arbitration?
 MEDIA: Who do you support? Pepsi? Crush? Coke?
 STORES: We need to get the word out... but a lot of people are against fast food, what with obesity... so how to do this...
 EMPLOYEES: This is beyond bullying. We're really, really worried.

 EMPLOYEES: Store's open again. We'd like to say business as usual. We'd really, really like to. Not that you notice a difference.
 PEPSICO & CRUSHCO: Bill's passed! Crisis averted! Employees are now totally under our control for two years!
 TB/PH/KFC: Um, what they said. Apparently.
 EMPLOYEES: I used to like my job. I really, really did.

 GENERAL PUBLIC: Why don't the store employees smile any more when they serve me? They're being such a bunch of jerks. It's only funny looking hats, not the end of the world.

In context, it merely feels like the end of the world.

Or perhaps that too is hyperbole.

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