I identify with your story, and the stories of so many in the comments here. I left Montreal as a permanent teacher to find Halifax a blocked job market. In 2002, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into teachers who were on their 7th-10th consecutive term position and STILL at risk of losing their status. I found a union with no internal will to fight for substitute/early career teacher issues because full time teachers were in crisis. Had the pension mess of 2007 not happened, I may never have found full time work in Nova Scotia and a way to care for the people I love at home.
Back then, the best conditions for subs existed elsewhere: in the Edmonton Public Schools District, three consecutive days meant retroactive pay at scale. The best conditions around long term subbing becoming contract work saw subs become fully salaried, benefited contract teachers after 10 days with retroactive pay at scale. The attrition rate in those jurisdictions for early career teachers was far lower than ours then, and now.
Even so, I worked with substitutes in metro as chair or co-chair on a regional substitute teacher committee for three years and researched, wrote and presented resolutions at council and submitted items to the asking package to bring us closer to national averages. It took three years, but the vast majority of what we presented got passed at Council. Any gains for subs since then have their origin in those efforts.
We are at an interesting point in substitute teacher issues. Because of the rushed implementation of class caps by the DOEECD, we have a province wide substitute teacher shortage in every RCE. That issue stands to worsen next year- the inclusion report has many new NSTU hires, the Council has announced 57 more FTEs for rural high schools (both of which are needed supports), but the main place the human resources for these positions will come from is the pool of substitute teachers that is already dangerously low. BEd programs are not full either.
Perhaps for the first time, the fate of subs and working conditions of permanent/full time classroom teachers are joined at the hip. Substitutes are abysmally paid. In most RCE’s long-term work does little to nothing to put them in a position to obtain full time work in the long run. Debt loads are the same as fully salaried teachers, and the overhead to do their jobs is crushing: car, insurance, gas, internet access, computer, cel phone- all sizable ongoing expenses.
Full time teachers are coming to school sick, unable to attend specialist medical appointments, have their prep time absorbed regularly to cover for absences there is no sub to cover, can’t take advantage of PD funding they’ve been approved for, can’t take paid or unpaid leave- the list goes on and on. You can draw a direct line between substitute teacher economic welfare issues and the eroding quality of teacher working conditions and the experience students are having in classrooms.
With negotiations opening in 2019, this election will either establish a candidate who knows about the issue and is committed to doing something about it if elected, or a candidate who has a record of action, collaboration and persistence on it.
The NSTU has given standing ovations to the BC Teachers Federation when their membership went out on strike to fight for supply and early career teacher rights, yet consistently tables asking packages that fail to address the worst working conditions for substitute teachers in the country.
It’s time for the NSTU to put its solidarity into action for early career members and finally win articles in a collective agreement that bring sanity and fairness to the workplace for those who have suffered from chaos and inconsistency since John Savage obliterated substitute teacher working conditions in the early 90’s.
I hope people will forgive the lengthy response here, but who we elect as president will have a major impact on these issues for all members, not the least of which are those whose work as day to day subs mitigates how much voice they can and do have within our union.
Without reservation, I’m the candidate with the deepest knowledge and experience around this issue, and the candidate best positioned to work with our membership to realize meaningful changes through collective bargaining and public advocacy. I hope you will stand #withwozney as a first step towards making that happen for members who deeply deserve better.
All my best,
@withwozney on May 31