Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-not me May 29, 2014

My last pay cheque came

with a 10% fine,

because I belong to a union,

and somewhere in the province

someone else striking.

Not me.

I’m at work today,

my strike day was yesterday,

but I am fined today anyway.

A government that has twice

been told by the courts that

its actions are illegal,

that it bargains in bad faith,

that it tries to provoke problems,

simply ignores the judiciary’s order that it owes teachers

ten million dollars it took from them illegally.

Nope.  This government

continues to bully its educated citizens,

labelling scape goats and whiners.

Setting its propaganda machine in motion.

Sure that no one will believe what it is really doing.

Why is the public not up in arms?

Why are they not concerned

to see a government stripping rights

from its citizens?

Perhaps people are distrustful

of the well-educated,

so it’s easy to manipulate them?

Truth: 10% is off my pay cheque,

because someone else is demanding the justice today

that I marched for yesterday.

Sixty years ago,

our boys were fighting against

injustices like this.

They are likely turning in their graves

at the new chancellor

of British Columbia

and the apathetic


who avert their eyes,

pretending not to see,

and mutter, “At least she’s not after me.”


26 Responses to “poem-not me”

  1. that sucks…fight the system!

    • We are, but our fight has been in the courts, and this government repeatedly (as mentioned in the poem) ignores the Supreme Court rulings that they are acting illegally. I do not understand why the population is not EXTREMELY alarmed about this! Personally, I think it’s time to use the court of public opinion!

  2. indernik Says:

    Sometimes you fight with an organization or an authority or a person, and you feel like you are fighting a ghost, it exists but you can’t do anything and you feel powerless and it affects your whole psyche. All one can do is feel anger and rage. Very bad feeling.

  3. julianmetta Says:

    Excellent piece. I’m from BC so I know too well just what this about. Solidarity!

  4. One of the functions of great poetry is to speak to the current moment. I liked this. Thank you Shawn.

  5. stevieboy56 Says:

    This must be an upsetting issue for you, particularly in view of the paycheck deduction. In the UK in my last job the company needed three voluntary redundancies. No one volunteered so guess what, three people were sacked. In my current job I work for the UK civil service and pay and conditions are so good I feel kind of mean being a union man, in fact a lot of times the union are unfairly berating management but every time I think of packing in the union I think back to that older job!

    • The government deducts 10% per day from those who work for each day anyone is on strike. It’s plainly illegal. It’s being fought in the court, but the government has been repeatedly lost cases and been ordered to repay, but they just ignore the rulings. The citizens should be rising up in hysteria over such actions.

  6. Marcus Antoninus Says:

    Sometimes I get the impression that the world is heading back to the 1930’s or even before that. Hope this nonsense ends soon.

  7. onewithclay Says:

    A ten percent reduction in your enthusiasm for Provincial Thinking is the ticket.
    What a wonderful topical subject! I’m glad you decided to picket.
    Another pun is coming up, but I don’t think you’ll like it a lot.
    You picked a good time to strike: while the irony’s hot.

    Take care, best regards, and my apologies.

  8. kiwiskan Says:

    It’s happening everywhere…

  9. For some strange reason, teachers seem to be fair game for the blame for a lot in society. I think part of it is because the general public thinks we have it so easy…three months off a year. They have no idea of the hours we put in during a week besides teaching in the classroom. I agree your union is way off base fining you 10 percent of your salary. Let’s see them try that with politicians who don’t do their jobs. Keep fighting it.

    • Our UNION is NOT fining us! The government requires the school districts to fine us! The same government that consistently is cited for illegal practices, but does not follow the judicial sanctions assigned them. They think they are above the law.

      We know from bitter experience that many can’t manage the one or two kids they have, so considering the number we manage simultaneously, many of them with serious issues, you’d think they’d be a little more aware! lol

  10. 7128788elf Says:

    Hi Shawn, a really terrible problem, have been involved in this many times as a librarian, it seems to have at its center the odd way that societies in general and governments in particular look at values. It seems to me, that any job that is actually indispensable to society, such as teachers, nurses, police etc. are not well paid and not well thought of, whereas jobs and people that are quiet unnecessary to society like stock exchange brokers, get away with many indiscretions and are hugely overpaid. We all have our abilities and should be acknowledged for them by society, and when things like this happen society should help and protest with them to promote better, more equal government. Best wishes, and many blessing in your struggle. Charles.

    • Because I live in Canada, our wages are quite reasonable, government claw backs not withstanding. We negotiate more for working conditions. BC has the worst per capita funding for education in Canada. People should be really upset.

      My beef is with coaches and sports ‘stars.’ Kicking around a ball is worth what? It’s bread and circuses in action!

      • 7128788elf Says:

        Yes I think sports and entertainment generally are overpaid, but I suppose their career is short, and they have to make money to keep them going after retiring. Here teachers are on strike, because they hardly get a living wage.

  11. Lorien Says:

    Seriously? Why would you be fined? Don’t people have a right to demonstrate? And why would you be fined for someone else’s actions? I’d be so pissed off. I taught public school for five years and every penny mattered.

  12. sporterhall Says:

    Powerful and thought-provoking!

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