Striking teachers: Do the math

It will take years for educators to earn back their losses .

According to Statistics Canada, B.C. public school teachers earned a standard salary of $71,485 in 2012-13.

Let us assume that teachers are paid for working 39 weeks a year (because they have a two-week Christmas break, a two-week spring break, and a nine-week summer break). Therefore, the average teacher earned ($71,485 ÷ 39 =) $1,833 per work week, or $367 per work day. Let us assume this includes all extra time for preparation, grading, report cards, etc.

Given the government’s determination to hold the line when bargaining with all unions, and the fact that the next B.C. election is three years away, it seems unlikely that striking teachers will obtain more than one percent (or perhaps two per cent) above that which the government originally offered.

Let us assume that, by striking, teachers obtain an extra one-per-cent salary increase above that which the government offered. An extra one-per-cent salary increase for the average teacher would be ($71,485 x 0.01 =) $715 per year. This salary increase will almost cover what the teacher lost by being on strike for two days, which was ($367 x 2 =) $734.

Teachers were on strike for two weeks in June and will be on strike for at least two weeks in September, for a total of four weeks. This amounts to a salary loss of ($1,833 x 4 =) $7,332, which is 10.25 per cent of their annual standard salary. Assuming teachers obtain an extra one-per-cent salary increase above that which the government offered, it will take ($7,332 ÷ $715 =) 10 years to make up for the salary lost over these four weeks. If they obtain an extra two-per-cent increase, it will take five years to make up for the lost salary.

It is possible that teachers will be on strike until mid-October when the government orders them back to work. By then the teachers will have lost eight weeks of salary which, for the average teacher, will amount to $14,664 or 20.5 per cent of their annual salary. Assuming an extra one-per-cent salary increase, it will take 20 years to make up for the salary lost over these eight weeks. If they obtain an extra two-percent increase, it will take 10 years to make up for the lost salary.

The foregoing calculations do not account for taxes and the “time value of money.”  A dollar now is worth more than a dollar in future years because of its reduced purchasing power. Also, money now can be invested to produce additional income over time.

David J. Purser



Surrey North Delta Leader

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