Get mad and support teachers for these 5 reasons


Here are the facts (according to me) you need to know about the BC teachers strike (although given the media blackout it’s hard to tell exactly what is going on).

Fact 1.  In 2002 when Christy Clark was education minister, Gordon Campbell’s liberals passed Bills 27 and 28 which took way the teachers right to bargain on class size and composition. The BCTF hired lawyers and won their case after years in the courts. In 2011 the BC Supreme Court declared the bills illegal and unconstitutional.

Fact 2. In 2012 the government introduced Bill 22 effectively restoring what the BC Supreme Court had rejected. Again the BCTF took the government to court and won.  In January 2014 the court again ruled that the Bill was illegal. Justice Griffin (clearly shocked at the government’s behaviour) also ordered the government to pay $2 million for “bargaining in bad faith” and putting so much pressure on the union that they were forced to strike!

Fact 3. In her decision, Justice Griffin retroactively restored the old (2002) provisions of the collective agreement and in doing so made the government liable for about a billion dollars for that multi-year violation of the teacher’s rights. Due to its “inability to pay” the BC government is appealing the decision and the appeal decision is due in October or soon after. Apparently only the dollar amount is being disputed, not the facts.

Fact 4. The Liberal government is apparently now playing hard ball with the teachers. It seems clear that the government has both the money and time to out-pressure the teachers. However it does not want to legislate the teachers back or they will be stuck with the 2002 contract wording. If they can get anything less than what Justice Griffin ordered then they effectively win. And they avoid losing three times in the court.

Fact 5: The Liberal government has recently spent our taxpayer money on two ways to promote themselves.  First they are paying all BC parents (in K-7) $40 a day during the strike. This is seen by most teachers and parents as bribery and raised the concern by policy experts that the Liberals are trying to dismantle public education and promote privatization (did I mention that Christy Clarks’s son goes to a private boys school?) Second they have hired social media people and paid for advertising to promote their (somewhat one-sided) perspective.  This is seen by most a grossly unfair during bargaining.

Rumour has it that the government has a hidden strategy (no big surprise) to stall for as long as they can (to break the union) and is willing to stall until September 23 (a day before my birthday!) or just before the appeal decision comes out.

Here are the questions you should be asking:

  1. Do you think the teachers should give up the legal rights the courts gave them on class size and composition? (no)
  2. Do you think a government that has been in gross violation of the Constitution on two occasions – by the courts – should be trusted to offer teachers something fair? (no)
  3. Do you think our system of collective bargaining works? (no)

Its time to stand behind teachers. This is an historic moment.

Parents please do this: for each day until the strike is over:

1. Go to your child’s school from 9-915 am (with your child if possible) and tell the teachers they are doing the right thing.

2. Wear pink everyday (the colour of anti- bulling)

3. Carry signs saying “enough is enough” or other wise words, take a selfie and post it on Facebook and Twitter.

Refuse to fall for the rhetoric!

(PS Has anyone seen Christy Clark? I think she is missing in action)

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Parents join me for a 15 minute revolution on Tuesday

The BC teachers are still on strike.Please show up at your school at 9am to 915 on Tuesday with your kids and tell the government to bargain fairly!

I have followed the debates and now am convinced that the Liberal government did not really want to solve the strike at all. Although the issue seems to be the Supreme Court decisions that declared the BC Laws that restricted bargaining on class size and composition to be unconstitutional (and a past lawyer, I can tell you that by taking out these rights, you are gutting teachers’ power) this this is not the REAL issue. The issue is our whole system of labour negotiation where the parties bully each other to death. And the most powerful one wins (usually the government, duh!). And in doing so they destroy all the relationships of parents, students, teachers, principals unions, politicians and governments. If the Liberal government really wants to improve or dismantle the whole  K-12 public education system, do it transparently. Not by paying parents $40 bucks and  not by one thousand knife cuts. This is a disgusting abuse of labour law, played out in its truest form! I urge sensible and heart-based lawyers to create a better system that honours not just the two fighting parties but all the impacted people (like all of us!) over the long term. See you on Tuesday for the first step!


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