Even though I am a high school teacher and a member of the union, I think it's utterly ridiculous and offensive that the ATA president can even suggest that a salary increase should be on the table for this round of bargaining. Of course we are just finishing a contract in which we saw a whopping 2% increase over the four years of the term--a time during which the oil and gas sector saw pretty hefty bonuses and increases in the first few years while we took zeroes--but it's pretty brazen of the ATA to suggest that they were not responsible for that contract. At the time it was being negotiated, the union ignored the calls from its members to limit the contract to one year, or two at the most, and we ended up getting the deal that they are now complaining about. Looking even further back, the previous contract was tied to cost of living--the first time in my career that this had been on the table--but the union restricted the term to five years rather than the ten the government offered. Our local president recently admitted that we should have taken the ten years at the time because we would still be in that contract and would be about $10,000 ahead in terms of salaries, but again it was the ATA's decision not to go for it. Their reason? We wouldn't be able to negotiate class conditions. Well, here we are nine years later and class conditions are still terrible, with 30-plus kids in my English class who need to learn to put sentences together, and the union has done exactly nothing to help me in that regard. But now that same union is soiling my professional reputation by forcing me and my colleagues to look like we are only doing this job for the money, shilling ourselves out for even more tax dollars at a time in which our neighbors are losing their jobs--and their ability to pay for social services. At the very least, I hope the public understands that the union doesn't speak for all of its members most of the time. It hasn't done so in the past and it certainly isn't doing so now.