Sunday, September 16, 2012

Anti-Teacher Argument #4- Sick Days

Bill 115 will reduce teacher sick days from 20 to 10.

When I told my wife about this fact, she responded: "well nobody should get that amount of sick days anyway."

Then I told her an interesting fact.  Because the government does not consider the summer months, March Break, or Christmas holidays as actual "teacher vacation time," teachers, unlike the majority of Ontario workers, do not qualify for the mandatory 4% "vacation pay" established by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.


In fact, in a prior collective agreement, when the summer months were actually legally considered to be a "vacation" for teachers, the government and teachers, working in a partnership, proposed a cost-saving, incentive strategy.

** Please note: In order to be fair, it has been brought to my attention that there are differing views on if these negotiations ever took place and/or if it was teachers who suggested the change.  Older members of the Union say it took place, newer members are unsure. **

Thus, these so called "sick days" should really be called "vacation pay days" since teachers do not get vacation pay.

No, the general public does not get the opportunity to miss 20 days a year for being "sick."  But they do get 4% vacation pay.

Teachers get "sick day" pay instead.  Different term, same result.

For those who started teaching in the year 2000, the retirement gratuity would be for 1/2 of a days pay for any accumulated days OVER 200.

Lets look at why the mathematics make sense for the government:

1. $74,000 (average teacher salary)  x 4% vacation pay = $2960 x 30 years = 88,800

2. (30 years x 20 sick days - 200)  x 1/2 days salary ($200) =  $80,000

Thus, the government saves $8000 per teacher by awarding sick days instead of vacation pay.

In this system, there was an incentive to SAVE sick days for teachers.  While I don't have the exact numbers, I know that at my school, no teacher has ever used up the full 20 days during the course of the year.  I have never used up more than 7.  Our staff average is 8.

So rounding up for the sake of argument to 11 sick days per year being used, the actual retirement gratuity would be:

(30 years x 9 sick days - 200 days) x 1/2 days pay ($200) = $14,000 gratuity.  Adding in the cost of a supply teacher (11 days x 30 years x $240) = $79,200.

 Thus the actual cost of the "20 banked sick days" is around $79,200 + $14,000 = $93,200

Now lets take a look at the mathematics of the new system.

1. 10 sick days that cannot be banked (teachers will therefore use them all up) x 30 years x a full days supply pay ($240) = $72,000

Don't forget to add in the vacation pay of $88,800 for a 30 year career.

This equals a new cost of $160,800 for a 30 year teacher.

Of course, some of you will say that teachers shouldn't get vacation pay.  But why is that?  The only reason we don't get vacation pay is because we negotiated for the retirement gratuity so that the government could save $8000 per teacher.

But Bill 115 has removed our ability to  negotiate AND nullified our prior bargaining agreements.

If our prior agreements are nullified, then as Ontario employees, we are entitled to our 4% vacation pay.

Unless of course teachers are somehow different?

And why would we be?

Perhaps it is because we are overpaid?


  1. How is it that as a teacher, I did not know this? Why is there no ETFO marketing around this? We are so bad at marketing! Thanks for these posts!

    1. Teacher work on average 154 days per year. This is part time work, and part time is part time. Doesn't matter if you are delivering pizza, cutting hair or working at Sears in the cosmetic section. These are all peer jobs to the common teacher. Part time is part time. Now for the salary and benefits. Teachers in South Dakota make $34,040 per year, and have 15 weeks holiday. Same job as our Canadian teachers, so why the huge difference in pay? Teachers are not professionals, the use of this term is insulting to us Professionals. You will not find one single Professional in Canada that only works 154 days per year, and shutting down at 3:30. Please refrain from using this term, we have worked very hard to attain our designations and teachers are demeaning it. We are educated with real degrees, not a bird BA (Burger All) and some bird courses written by the union to get a teaching certificate. And, that is all that it is, a certificate. Not like a true Professional Designation like a CA, or LLP, etc.

    2. Sail:

      You are exactly the person who this blog is not for. You have totally overlooked the mathematical facts and are making conclusions based on your own, incorrect reality.

      This reality will never change, because even in the face of mathematical facts, you are still making up your own numbers.

      Teachers work 188 days a year by law. They don't work 154.

      As already proven in an earlier blog, teachers work until at least 5 WITHOUT calculating extracurriculars.

      Comparing what teachers make in South Dakota is not relevant. Is South Dakota in the top 6 cities in terms of cost of living in North America?


      But you can believe whatever you want. Just don't hold out for those flying pigs...

    3. Sail,
      Spoken like a true "professional" who doesn't bother (or doesn't know how) to research something before opening their mouth and spewing unadulterated B.S.

      Surely, as a hard working "professional", you can understand how your comment actually demeans your peers by having the likes of you claiming to represent them all.

      Get the facts, actually spend time to think about them for a while, then come on back and post something truthful and meaningful...if you can.

  2. There are many exceptions out there for Mandatory vacation pay. In essence, a teacher making $74000 for working 75% of the working year (I agree that is a low estimate, but one that has been used on this blog), is being compensated at an out of market amount of vacation time (10 weeks+). Salaried workers do not get 4% in ADDITION to their salary, they are allowed time off without penalty of missing pay. Under your scenario a teacher would be paid $76,960 with the additional pay would they not?

    The clear parallel would be to have teachers only receive 10 days off (with pay) after they have completed a year of service. As well, sick days are not very widely spread in professional occupations currently. Considering the rate of pay and benefits this "vacation pay" argument is pretty weak.

    1. Um Neal, 4% vacation pay is 4% vacation pay. It doesn't matter if your employer gives it to you during your vacation weeks or if it's added on top of your hourly pay on every cheque. I've worked a number of hourly jobs and have seen it done both ways.
      Did you not read the blog? Teachers DID get 4% vacation pay at one point. On top of their salaries. This was traded for bankable days. What's not to understand?
      Furthermore, according to McGuinty Math, teachers are paid for exactly 200 days per year. That's our 194 actual work days plus 6 of the 7 (or 8, depending if Family Day counts) statutory holidays that occur during the school year. Here's the solution for you:
      1.5%pay / 3 work days = 0.5% pay / 1 work day; 0.5% pay X 200 days = 100% pay. Therefore, 200 paid days per year. So, you might feel we make a lot of money per day but that's a different argument. Lots of people make more money per day for doing things that have a negative net impact on society - why should we get bottom dollar just because we've chosen the opposite?

  3. Teachers are always whining about their pay. What ever happened to "doing it for the kids"? I guess that only applies when taking credit for kids being successful (because they have nothing to do with their good grades). I earn a heck of a lot less than a teacher, and I still manage to care for my family. I think teachers should be thankful for what they have & stop complaining. Nobody feels bad for someone earning over 70 000 a year. Especially when there are people living on less than 10 000!

    1. I would like to point out that I have been teaching full-time for 7 years (after some time of 'paying my dues' as a supply teacher) and I am no where near the $70K mark in salary.

      It's true that the top end teachers make about $90K/year but that is after several educational upgrades (at the teacher's expense) and 15+ years in the industry. Beginning teachers can make as little as $30K/year. We aren't all drinking champagne and caviar ;)

      Plus, politicians make WAY more than teachers. Why are they not taking a hit to solve the governments' deficit problem? I have to imagine that they had a greater role in creating this deficit than most in the public sector. I might be more agreeable to the wage freeze if I felt that the premier was willing to tighten his belt a bit, too. Just a thought.

    2. I think it's important that we disseminate correct facts... I'm looking at the collective agreement for my full-time teacher local, and at 7 years experience the salaries are: A2: $68,828, A3: $75,734, A4: $78,341.

      Zero years teaching experience, the salaries are A1 (really only exists for occasional teachers, who are paid less than this): $43,899, A2: $45,126, A3: $50,558, and A4: $52,810.

      Teacher contracts across the province are extremely close when it comes to salary; there are no full-time teachers making only $30,000/year. If we allow misinformation like that to go out, it sounds very disingenuous.

      Now, it is fair to say that 26% of ETFO members (likely similar for OSSTF, OECTA, and AEFO) are occasional teachers, and that occasional teachers receive no benefits, nor do they have their credentials or experience recognized. Most of them also make less than $20,000 per year unless they're lucky enough to get a long-term assignment of significant duration. Most of them also rely on Employment Insurance (under attack by Harper) and/or second jobs to make ends meet.

    3. fifo rifo, you talk about "doing it for the kids". OK, kids are important. So if you sign your kids up for sports or music lessons in the community, what are you expecting to get extra for free with that? Do you yell at the piano teacher if she only teaches a one hour lesson when you only paid for a one hour lesson? If you go to Canadian Tire to buy hockey equipment for your kids, do you get mad at the store owner's "whining over his profits" when he refuses to throw in a pair of skates for free? When you go shopping for a new car, do you expect the seller to throw in some free snow tires because you'll be driving your kids around in the car so they should do it "for the kids"? Of course not. Well, teachers may love their jobs, and teachers may love kids, but this "do it for the kids" thing gets a little old. If you don't expect it of everybody then don't expect it of anybody. Also, if you want to make a teacher's salary, become a teacher. You seem convinced you could do a better job of it.

  4. Fifo rifo,
    In reality, this conflict has never been about salary. The teacher's union agreed to the 2 year wage freeze right off the bat with the hope that the government would soften it's stance on other issues that affect those most vulnerable - new teachers. The union also showed the government how the money they claimed to need could be found in other areas - some taken from the teachers, some found in government policies surrounding education. The government refused to consider these possibilities.

    I can't speak for all teachers, but my greatest concern at this point is that the the section of the proposed "Putting Students First" legislation stipulates that the Ontario Labour Relations Board will not "inquire into or make a decision on whether a provision of the Act … is constitutionally valid or is in conflict with the Human Rights Code."

    In other words, the Liberal gov't doesn't want anyone questioning whether their proposed bill is discriminatory or even if it conflicts with the CONSTITUTION! You know, that thing that protects individual rights and that trumps all other levels of law.
    That takes balls.

  5. Um you lost me at teachers don't get 4% vacation pay? ANy salaried employee who has vacation does not get vacation pay you just get time off. And FYI most people get the minimum of 2 weeks vacation which is essentially 10 days unlike teachers who get Christmas March break and summers off PLUS 20 "vacation pay" days as you would have us believe they are? Come on you want us to think your jobs are so important but they are no more important but they are no more important than anyone else.

    1. The Captain,

      I think it was clearly stated above that teachers do not get paid for summers, March break or the Christmas holiday period. When you take your two weeks vacation you are probably paid at that time and that is your 4% vacation pay that is being discussed. It is not a question of whose job is more important it is a question of the law that each person must be paid vacation pay according to Labour Law.

    2. I would argue having good teachers is actually more important than a lot of other jobs.

      There are certainly people out there who would probably succeed regardless of their educational experience but for others having a good teacher can mean the difference between being inspired by a subject and ditching class.

      Not to diminish the societal contribution of other types of work but can you think of a job that has a more direct relationship with the future of our country and people?

  6. Thanks so much for setting up this site. This is what the Unions should be doing.
    Great work!

  7. I see a lot of comments and evaluation of vacation pay, cost to provice and time off for teachers. In simplest of terms, it looks like teachers can get upwards of 3-4months off a year without impact to their annual pay, which sounds to be a very nice pay for 8-9 months of working. Those of us not in the industry, undoubtably are jealous.

    However, my concern and frustration centres around the kids who are used as pawns in this battle. We all have reasons to be disgruntled at work, however, when most of us are unhappy, it doesn't translate to someone elses kids not getting to play football, volleyball, basketball, organized trips, etc etc. I can not respect a profession that claims to be about and for the kids, yet, allows each other to take away the things that many kids look forward to in a school day (let's face it, most of the kids arent waking up excited to learn math or geography - these other activities help motivate and stimulate the kids).

    I know there are a lot of great teachers, who want to continue to offer these activities to the kids, yet are bullied by peers and unions to 'work to rule'. It is incredibly sad. As a working parent who volunteer time to working with kids groups (unpaid, no vacation pay or planning time during 'work day hours'), I find it difficult to care what teachers issues are, when my kids are the pawns. Teachers certainly don't care what our work issues are - but that is because we don't interfere with their families overall day to day life.

    Don't take the good things away from the kids in an effort to correct your personal work issues.

    1. You're absolutely right, teachers don't want to stop doing extracurricular activities. Many of them get more out of coaching than they do in the classroom. However, as a parent, what would you tell you're kids to do if they were being bullied? The government is bullying the teaching profession and if they don't stand up for themselves now and fight back, it's just going to get worse.

      You have a great idea though. Maybe parents should volunteer their time after a long work day to coach their kids teams. Sports aren't being shut down, find a community coach and they are right back up and running. No there is no pay involved, but I'm tired of hearing about how much teachers make and how little work they do.

      One of the problems we have in society today is that everyone thinks that it's the teachers job to coach their kids after school ... for free. It has somehow become part of their job description. If your boss asked you to stay and work an extra 2 hours a day for free you'd laugh at your boss and tell them they're crazy. On top of 2 hours an evening for practices and games, some teachers also choose to go on out of town tournaments taking a weekend away from home and their own family to spend a weekend with your kids giving them great experiences and team building opportunities. The added responsibility there is quite overwhelming at times. Before you start jumping down teachers throats and crying to the public about how much teachers are hurting the kids by withdrawing their VOLUNTARY services, you should take a moment and think about how much teachers have already done for your active children, thank them, and jump on their side. The quicker people realize that teachers need the public support to stand up to this bully, the quicker the teachers will be back in the gym or on the field coaching your kids again. It's where they want to be too.

      Lets face it, every single person has the option to choose the teaching profession. If it is such a cushy job, then why isn't everyone becoming a teacher? The reality, teaching isn't for everyone. So maybe it's time for those who chose to not teach to be grateful for those who have chosen to teach so your children can get a great education.

      Now, as was stated earlier, teachers accepted a wage freeze. What is unacceptable is the fact that teachers who have been teaching for under 10 years lose all the days in their sick day bank. How is it ok to tell teachers that they can bank their days and then turn around and take them all away? It's criminal, they are stealing money from the young teachers.

      I just wish that people would get all the facts before they start posting their own personal opinions. Those who are in the public sector, this may be starting with teachers because they are the easy targets because the public hates them. However, the government will be going after the other public sectors next.

    2. It's not absolutely right at all.The kids are the only bargaining chip available that pressures the public and therefore the government. I can agree that it is diruptive to fanilies but this situation is unlike striking in other businesses where a shut down costs the company revenue, and that loss of revenue is the applied pressure. Public sector relies on public outcry to improve or preserve their working conditions.

    3. Spuddy spuds - you say
      "However, as a parent, what would you tell you're kids to do if they were being bullied? The government is bullying the teaching profession and if they don't stand up for themselves now and fight back, it's just going to get worse."

      I have to tell you - the ONE thing I wouldn't tell my kids to do if they were being bullied is turn around to someone smaller and tell them "I'm taking *this* away from you so that the real bully *might* change his mind and stop bullying."

    4. Miss G - what would you do then??? What recourse do we have. Noone wants a strike. No teacher wants to take things away however, we NEED those sick days. Not only because theya are a short term disability plan for us, but also because often parents don't want to take a day off school when they are sick so they send their sick kids to school. Last winter I went through 3 different rounds of antibiotics because there was so much sickness in the classroom. We keep your kids at school even when they are clearly sick because we know parents can't afford to take sick days either. However what do you think will happen when we only have 10 sick days left and we can't afford to get sick?? Do you think any teacher will overlook ANY kind of sickness? Because I have to let you know...I won't. I won't be doing it to hurt the kids, but rather I will be saying to myself I have to manage my sick days because I can't afford to be sick again, and this is one way to keep sickness out of the class.

    5. Perhaps we all need to step back to re-read Spuddy Spud's comment with an OPEN MIND. It seems many parents are upset and are focusing on only one factor, the notion that extra-curriculars have been taken away from your kids; yet, many don't seem to see that it is not something that teachers are REQUIRED to provide. Teachers’ jobs do not mandate these extras, nor are they being paid for them. The parents at large are responsible for their child's recreational sports, activities and hobbies. We do not expect University professors to accommodate these, so then why do we expect teachers to provide these services? Do parents not have a duty/obligation to provide facilities or volunteer their time to community services, so their children can be enriched with such privileges? Sorry if some feel their kids are becoming “pawns” in all this; but the teachers’ are fighting for their rights under the constitution; and they are by no means obligated to look after your child’s entertainment. Also, please do re-examine who it is that has involved your kids in all this in the first place. Teachers had a contract with their employer, which was working well for all parties (parents, teachers, students, and the Board (the employer). Then suddenly, without any input or consensus from either party (teachers nor the Boards), a third party (the government) decided to step in and unconstitutionally breach this contract. What recourse do the teachers then have? What would you do, if this was your situation at work? Would you still continue, out of the goodness and kindness of your heart, to provide voluntary services and would you still feel valued and respected? Then turning to blogs that condemn teachers, such as some of the ones posted above, only demeans them more. Do you not realize that this is far more than just a fight for extra-curriculars –this is a violation of all our human rights; which is what makes us Canadians. It seems that all that matters to many is that their kids are no longer receiving free babysitting/entertainment? That is a privilege – that you should take ownership of – not teachers. Please do review the original article and re-read Spuddy Spud’s comment and perhaps you may realize that this Bill is not about “Putting Kids First”, but rather it’s about “Putting Kids Last and Putting Politicians First.” It’s time to confront the government and question what is really going on behind the system. Why are we facing this deficit? We are all paying gross taxes (all of us whether we be in the private or public sector). As individuals, we are paying taxes on everything we purchase (in the form of the HST). So what is happening to our hard earned tax-paid dollars? Pitting one profession against another is a smoke screen, to deter the real underlying issues. We are all in this together, so let’s stop demeaning each other’s professions. Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Accountants, to name only a few, are as necessary, as are teachers for a functional society. Teachers, by the way, happen to be the backbone for all the other professions. Condemning, insulting, and demeaning one another is not a solution, but rather a vehicle for jealousy, animosity, and disrespect towards one another. United we must stand!

  8. Niki,

    I'd like you to step back and realize that the "after hours" programs run by teachers for YOUR kids, are in fact volunteer hours. Many teachers miss out on their own children/family's at home lives due to the fact that they are "there" for YOUR that YOUR kids can enjoy the extra curricular activities that everyone has become so used to receiving, all the while the sacrifice the teacher has made MOSTLY goes unrecognized/unappreciated by the parents, and or kids in general. There aren't many professions out there that are required (or pressured by the public) to sacrifice their OWN valuable time by volunteering (not getting paid) in order to give back to the community. I think we need to realize to that in order for the point to be made loud and clear, kids are used as the pawns, because as everyone knows, with any strike to rule, something/somewhere, that we have grown accustomed to receiving, has to end for the people to realize what it is they are missing out on. I think by teachers taking a pause, this point is already being made. P.S. Maybe you (people like you) should start up a volunteer organization for after school hour sports? Just a thought. ;)

  9. I am so sick of being attacked because I am a teacher. I went into this profession because I CARE about the kids not because of how much it pays or the vacation time attached to the job. I work very hard to be a good teacher. That means hours of preparation for every day I teach. I make my classes engaging and fun but most importantly my student learn (and sometimes it is just how to behave in public). I get to school early and then stay hours after for activities. I coach more than one sport a year which means 1.5 – 3 hours 4 nights a week depending when our practice is and if we have a game. Then I give up my Saturdays for tournaments. After all this free time I give to my students I then need to spend time marking and preparing. I can’t just walk into my room with 30 students without knowing what I am doing. You can say that we are overpaid but we went to University for 5 years to get here and if our job is so easy why didn’t you do it? Is it because a classroom of 30 teenagers scares you? My job is NOT easy but I love it. I don’t care about the sick days (and only older teachers actually get paid out for them. There isn’t a single teacher in my school that does) and I have no problem with a wage freeze if they leave the grid alone. I am tired of being attacked by everyone that thinks that teachers have it so easy. I earn every penny I make. I hope we do not take away sports etc. (which are all running at my school) but I understand why it might happen. What the government is doing with bill 115 is taking away our rights as citizens and it has gone beyond sick days and pay. We live in a democracy not a dictatorship and if you think that if the teachers don’t fight this, the government will stop there then you are sadly mistaken. We cannot let this bill sent a precedent, which is why we need to fight and unfortunately the only weapon we have is what we give for free.

  10. No One was upset about this dispute when it was just teachers losing money or sick days or retirement gratuities. However, as soon as teachers started giving up their own free time to do activities with kids (which I have done for 29 years and continue to do) everyone is up in arms. It is what people want to do out of their own free will. Those who want to continue will. However, you can only be singled out so much when things start to unravel.

  11. I am not pro or anti teacher.... Though your thoughts on vacation pay are pretty weak, you need to remember who you are trying to get to understand your argument. Most people get their vacation pay and the equivalent 2 weeks that go with 4% (unpaid during those two weeks). I completely disagree with the fact your right to negotiate has been taken away but your federation has let your profession down the last several years with their lack of a pr campaign to combat the negative spin the govt puts out there. Your union leaders also need to control the members who make comments to the media that are less than flattering and are used across the country to make the people in your profession look out of touch with the economic realities of all other industries, both public and private. No one but yourselves will be able to bring back the respect for the profession

  12. who is the enemy? Teachers or mcguinty and his bill that takes away rights. Parents and students should have been on teacher's sides when the bill was intoduced. Dont be attacking teachers when they dont feel like working for free after being treated like crap. And it isnt about the $$$. It is about reversing past contracts.

  13. I'm no teacher...I certainly think that the government is circumventing the collective bargaining process and that the supreme court would rule in favour of the teachers for that reason alone.

    Is it reasonable for teachers to agree to a pay freeze in order to keep some of the contractual agreements that the government has made?

    I think it would be reasonable for the teachers to ask for a raise based on the recent inflation, yet they choose to help a failed government out in alleviating some of their debt problems.

    The liberals appear to have effectively convinced society that they can mismanage our tax dollars and then take the difference from an easy target. I am ashamed that some many of us have been tricked in to siding with an irresponsible government. Mike Harris was not even this devious.

  14. In repsonse to posts suggesting that parent groups come together and volunteer their time for kids extracurricular activities. I am all for this, and have been coaching two teams all year long as a volunteer for 8 years, I certainly am not unaccustomed or unaware of the effort or the value. I wouldn't dream.of starting to coach kids, offer these opportunities to kids, then quit coaching them because I was upset with my job.

    I know ths will not be a popular statement, however, I applaude McGuinty - in protecting the students and parents from allowing teachers, unhappy about their bargaining rights or results , to essentially put kids out on the streets. Working parents can not stop working because teachers decide they want more. Please, do what disgruntled public sector employees do - update your resume and get another job where your needs are more closely met. Threatening students and parents with strike action is not acceptable action. Sorry if this upsets teachers, however, dealing with issues privately without outside disruption is better suited to this profession. Perhaps we could learn from the impact to the north american economy and auto workers unions - not sure these strong entities are still doing more good than harm.

    1. This was never about teachers "wanting more". There was never a question of teachers getting a wage increase.

      If strike action is not acceptable to you, how else would you suggest that the teachers fight this legislation? Do you think anyone would notice or care if we stop counting milk money or attending staff meetings? Those are also jobs that fall outside of the realm of a teacher's job responsibilities, but I don't think it would have quite the same impact.

    2. Dear Niki,

      Just wondering about your honest reason for coaching the teams and volunteering over the years. Is it genuinely for the sake of volunteering or is it because you may have your kids or grandkids, family members or relatives kids interests at heart? The majority of parents whom I have dealt with have never done so selflessly, as the teachers do year after year. They are not coaching their own kids teams or family relations. Be honest with yourself. And if you are, how many others do you know, who are doing so as selflessly? My true commendation to you, all teachers, and all 2% or so of you that do so selflessly. But I can assure you, there are not many out there who do or this world would be a very different place today.

      Also, I wonder how many would continue to do so, if after all this, they are condemned (like some of the posts we are reading) and not appreciated. Quite honestly, if the parents of the very same children you coach undermine your efforts and work, as some of the posts above, will you really continue the coaching relentlessly? Or would you opt out of the voluntary services you are providing - free and selflessly? No response necessary - only a self reflection will suffice.

  15. I thank you for the data, as it helps provide a better understanding of the scenario for those of us indirectly impacted or misinformed. I do empathize with the situation. Teachers provide a great service and they have a difficult job these days.
    There are great arguments on both sides communicated on this blog.
    I think that the days off work that teachers receive should be considered vacation. All careers that I have been fortunate enough to hold, have provided graduated eligible vacation days, based on years worked. Salaried jobs only offer vacation time, not 4% vacation pay, unless I am unable to take my vacation for workload reasons. This is reality. We are not allotted both time off AND 4% pay. Reiterating what someone stated earlier. It was mentioned that they are not paid vacation days, but they are. An annual salary is paid to teachers, they have designated time off. This is vacation. Granted they cannot pick their weeks off. For those teachers who require more $$$s, there is nothing stopping them from working during your summer off, as many firemen, flight attendants, seasonal workers do.
    A wage freeze is not out of the question in this economy. I think that most on this site are not disputing this point. I personally have not had a wage increase in over 4 yrs, even though the cost of living has increased considerably over that time period. Something I have to accept or search for different employment.
    The reversing of teachers’ contract is a good point raised as being unfair. However, there are many times over the past 30 years, where people have not only had to accept freezes, but also cut-backs, in order to retain their job. It's not a great situation, but in some cases, it is better than losing your job because the business has to close.
    I don't know of any job that permits banking of sick days. I am lucky enough to have good sick pay if I am sick, but if I don't use those days, I don't get to save them up or receive pay equivalent. Sick days exist to protect those who are indeed sick and can't make it to work ... granted there are those who call in sick for a day off. But banking those days is unheard of in most careers.
    Teachers do have the right to manage their volunteer hours for extra-curricular activities. As much as my kids don't like it, it is the teachers’ right. However, the schools do not allow kids to run their own activities (could be good opportunity for student volunteer hours), or permit non-faculty adult volunteers to step in and help run these activities on school property. It would be great if they did.
    Everyone should have the right to negotiate their contract. The challenge is finding a good way for essential services to do so.

    1. Please see the government of Ontario's information about vacation pay before you complain that you do not personally get it:

      Almost every person in Ontario is eligible. You probably have it integrated into your paycheque and you don't even realize.

      It is very sad how ignorant some people are about labour laws.

      For the record, I am not a teacher...I am a physician.

    2. Elayne Parno,

      Yes, ignorance. Nowhere did I state or complain that I don't receive vacation. I did state that I have vacation time as part of my salary, and not 4% vacation pay. I also stated that if I don't take my vacation, I receive 4% pay in place of unused vacation. No one is entitled to BOTH. That was my point. Xmas, March break, and summer vacation seems to be paid vacation included as part of the teachers' salaries. If that IS the case, then it is wrong to expect an additional 4% vacation pay.

    3. Again, according to the government Christmas "vacation," March Break etc. are not paid vacations for teachers. They are paid for their 194 working days.

      Since they never receive "vacation pay" or even an official vacation, they are entitled to receive such pay.

  16. So, teachers are working during the two week Christmas break and of course the week at March break right? They're not? Are they getting paid vacation? Shocking? Kind of blows your trading vacation pay for banking days right out of the water does it not?

    Second, your union, is horrible at public relations. If teachers, truly want to put the best interest of students first, and want the general public on their side, they need to change this. Instead of stomping your feet, yelling "that's mine, don't touch it" why not lobby to have teachers declared "essential". If education is indeed a right and not a privilege up until post secondary, why are teachers even allowed the right to strike at all? Why are children allowed to be used as hostages in negotiations(no matter how you try to change the wording, the kids are caught in the middle each and every time). The only students hurt by this job action are the ones who really need those clubs and those activities, the ones whose identity right now is based on who they are at school. Right now , there are 24 percent of new teacher(those just graduating from teachers college) who cannot find work, not even as substitutes. How do they hire new teachers? You have to KNOW someone to get a job. So the best and the brightest and those best able to translate those skills into teaching others are not necessarily the ones getting the jobs. This needs to change too. We need engaging, energetic, diverse teachers, not just Joe who knows principal Sam.

    1. Hello Sheens.

      The issue is not if teachers are working during the "Christmas Holidays" or not. The government does not define these as vacations, nor do they pay them for it.

      If your employer said to you: go take an unpaid vacation, would you demand that you do work? or would you except the criticism if you don't?

      Teachers don't have a choice in the matter.

      Our union is horrible at public relations, but that is because the media has its own agenda and refuses to public the truth. That is what this blog is doing.

      If you read the rest of the blog posts here, you will see where this is the case.

      The point of this blog is not to whine (notice salary has not been mentioned yet), but to point out some details that the public doesn't know and which is should.

      Once you have all the details, have seen all the math etc. then perhaps you will have an informed opinion, and if you still think teachers are whiners, so be it.

      Also, please remember that teachers are arguing that they need to stop being the focus of public ridicule and sarcasm. They are pointing out that they are only doing their job as it is defined, just like the rest of the population....

    2. Moreover, unions are not supposed to protect potential members, but existing ones. Your assumptions that younger teachers are more talented, etc. could be true, but where is the data to support this?

      You make some excellent points overall though, however, many of your arguments are addressed in other blogs already posted here ("holding kids hostage") and/or will be once I get the time to do some investigative reporting...

      For example, I have enlisted a medical researcher to look at teacher salaries and compare them to similar professions that require a certain education.

      They will also look at who was actually impacted by the recent recession.

    3. Sheens worker, just so you know as a teacher, yes I work during all my vacations. Often report cards are due shortly after Christmas, or March break. Furthermore, we do not get paid over the summer. We only are paid for our school days. We are essentially unemplyed during the summer.
      Also - those banked sick days are also a disability plan if teachers get seriously sick. We have to use them first.

  17. And just how would you suggest this be dealt with "privately"? I would really like to hear your suggestions of what sort of actions these private dealings would entail. Most teachers would rather not deal with this sort of conflict at ALL, preferring to do the job and more, as we have always done in harmonious times in Education.

    "Outside disruption" as you put it (or more accurately "inconveniencing parents"...let's call it what it is) when it comes to the current lack of fair negotiations with teachers is unavoidable...the government knows that, and also knows that most parents will always side AGAINST teachers because of that. then have the gall to say this is all about "Putting Students First". It is putting students in the line of fire. "Between a rock and a hard place" is the best way to put the position of teachers these days, and our autocratic government knows it.

    As a teacher, I am also a "working parent". Job actions affect me, too. I also deserve to spend my "free" time with my family, and have given up countless weekends, lunches and hours before and after school to serve as a coach, staff advisor and referee in order for the kids I teach, the kids I CARE about, to have fun doing extra-curricular things. I've done it without hesitation and without reservation. I've done it for THEM. The fact that parents benefit from it is simply a bonus.

    But, it's a bonus that has never been truly appreciated and, (as your post points out), the moment job issues created by the government cause conflict and it becomes an inconvenience for the working public, we are villified and told to settle it some other way... a way that doesn't affect students, or more clearly, parents. I would love nothing more than to be able to do that... so realistic suggestions are welcomed.

    Meanwhile, I will "take a pause" on offering what is usually taken for granted and spend time with my own family...which includes 3 students who are similarly not enjoying the benefits that extra-curriculars at school usually provides. I will be happy to take my wage freeze (that was agreed to by teachers months before all this started), and I will hope that either the government repeals the law, is defeated on a non-confidence motion, or the Supreme Court strikes it down, so that this bullying by the Liberal government upon this very particularly and intentionally targeted public service sector occupation -- the first, but surely not the last to feel this sort of autocratic "hammer" -- will cease and desist and I can get back to teaching the way I really want to, including volunteering my time to help students enjoy the unpaid "extras" of the education system.

  18. Many people complain teachers are overpaid and the government complains it has no money. Since this government has come to power they have toadied to industry where even if you come hat in hand to the government, ie the taxpayer, you are entitled to mega-millions in bonuses. Yes, I mean toadied, corporate taxes have gone from;
    14% before July 1, 2010;
    12% effective July 1, 2010;
    11.5%, effective July 1, 2011;
    11% effective July 1, 2012; and
    10% effective July 1, 2013.

    Corporations are granted personhood and rights under the law, have protections the average person can't even imagine, government bailouts and tax rates lower than any individual can imagine and going down. How dare the government curtail our rights by saying "broke" yet be giving money hand over fist to corporate fat cats! Tax these buggers at the same rate as people, which they have the rights of under the law, and your coffers will overflow.

    MPP's pay start at $116,000 (3 to 4 times a base teachers salary) and rapidly escalates with perks to well over $200,000. They have to have exactly what qualifications to run the province, NONE! When MPP's leave caucus they do so with a golden handshake amounting to no less than 6 months pay and upwards of 18 months. This is different from accumulating sick days how? Oh yes, it takes only 4 years to get instead of an entire career!

    Teachers are responsible for giving their students the skills that will allow them to be successful throughout life. There are exceptions in the self taught but that is the base of our civilization and it isn't worth a decent pay? Toronto garbage men, who perform a needed function and work in difficult conditions granted but require little in the way of skills, make $52000/yr plus and teachers aren't worth it? You face 30 kids a day that tell you to your face to fuck off or if they hand in nothing still expect to pass their grade (see alberta teacher fired for giving out zero's). If what teachers do is of such little value why does the government table legislation to prevent them striking because their services are NECESSARY? If anything teachers are not sufficiently recognised for their impact on our society!

    1. madmaxx - send your kids to my class anytime :D Thanks - it's nice to hear from a member of the public who doesn't think I'm greedy and underworked! I arrive at 7:30 and leave at 5 - when I could be enjoying all 3 of my lovely own children under 5. I give up my lunches and recesses and it's disgusting to me that so many parents still have this opinion of teachers. It's really nice to see you don't.

  19. This is all great information. I have passed this particular blog on to our union president. Can you please verify which previous collective agreement and is there a link?

  20. There has been some question about the validity of this post. Would you have any links to facts that back up key details? (When were teachers making vacation pay, when did it end, what was the wording used in introducing sickdays to replace them?)

    There has also been a lot of math around how cutting sick days won't save money (I'm never taking less than my full 10 every year - I've never came close to that before), so this isn't a criticism.

    This most recently said about it on Twitter:

    If there is truth to this, I want to be able to stand by it, otherwise there are a lot of other angles that would be more productive.

  21. It goes to figure that my one post in which links are not provided is the one with the most unclear opinions.

    To restate: Teachers "sick days" replace vacation pay because teachers, unlike the majority of Ontario workers, do not get vacation pay. This is the 4% added.

    Having talked now to many Union stewards etc. I have been given different sides to the story. There are some, who are older, who believe that back in the day that teachers negotiated these days as a means to save the government money on vacation pay. But, there are no minutes of such minutes, nor would it be in any collective agreement: because the agreements don't lay out that "this" replaces "that."

    These individuals, including some high ranking officials, where my "sources." This was the only blog where "sources" were used and not Stats Canada.

    Some of the younger officials, who were not around in the period of question, do not have any knowledge that such a negotiation took place: but where would they get it from?

    Having suddenly been confronted by those who say this took place, and those who don't know, I am thinking about rewording/rearguing this blog to say that teachers sick days are not an added financial burden because teachers don't get vacation pay.

  22. Here's what I was sent. Does this help?

    "According to Regulation 285/01 under the Employment Standards Act, teachers are not entitled to vacation pay, since it states that Section XI of the act, which sets the requirement for vacation with pay, does not apply to teachers as defined by the Teaching Profession Act."

    There sure are a lot of sections, acts and rules!!!

    1. Thank you Patricia. This does clarify the law. However, by no means does this rescind our right to negotiate our contract with our employer. If every profession/job provided only the bare rights under the labour laws, no one in any corporation or employment would have an incentive to progress or excel. The Employment Standards Act provides the base minimal obligations from an employer; but the rest is negotiated during the time of employment based on market worth and company progress/profits/etc. As it stands, teachers do go beyond their call of duty, and are qualified through their years of education, qualifications, expertise, etc.

      Corporations reward their employees with benefits that exceed the minimal requirements stated under the Employment Standards Act. Whether it be with graduated eligible vacation days, based on years worked (as stated by ThinkingKap above, or it be with incredible bonus payouts,retention bonuses, stock options, or other royalties. If everyone was dependent on their minimal obligated rights, this whole economy would be under a crisis and you'd find a majority of Canadians running abroad in search of better dollar for their services (one of the reasons why we are often facing this crisis with the Health Care Profession; as compared to other countries, where they are better compensated for their profession).

  23. >Because the government does not consider the summer months, March Break, or Christmas holidays as actual "teacher vacation time," teachers, unlike the majority of Ontario workers, do not qualify for the mandatory 4% "vacation pay" established by the Ontario Ministry of Labour

    Under Ontario law, employees are generally entitled to 4% vacation pay. For most employees, this means they are entitled to take a vacation for two weeks a year and get their regular salary. For an employee to "work through" vacation, and thus earn an extra weeks pay in a year, the Director of Employment Standards must approve such an arrangement. Employers are generally permitted within reason to dictate when an employee takes their vacation. Employers can close up shop for any two weeks a year and require the employee to take it as vacation.

    Therefore, if the school board opts to shut down school for Christmas break, or March break, and so long as the teachers are still getting paid a pay cheque that week, and they aren't going to work, they are getting the same treatment as everyone else in respect of vacation (and that doesn't include the two months summer when they are effectively also on vacation.

    I don't really care how the government or the teachers want to frame it in their paperwork, teachers are not paid hourly. They are paid annual salary based on a pay scale. This is the amount of money you get, and FYI, you get to take Christmas and March break off. The long and the short of it is that you get a pay cheque every week and that includes entitlement to take those weeks as vacaction without your pay being docket. It's a CBA and the union is WELL aware when it negotiates the salary table that its members will get christmas and march break off.

    In any event, employees do not get to "bank" their vacation hours. Most employers require their employees to take their vacation time during the year. I see no basis on which the union can argue that "We don't get 10 days a year vacation pay, so we are entitled to 20 days a year sick pay that we can bank to retirement." There is no connection between those thoughts.