--> Getting It Right: General Strike Ill-Advised

Thursday, October 13, 2005

General Strike Ill-Advised

A general strike? Does the union leadership in this province actually think that shutting down British Columbia for a day or two or more will help build public support for the illegal job action of the BCTF?

But, indeed, Jim Sinclair speaking to a couple thousand of the faithful on Tuesday night at the Trade and Convention Centre, promised to consider just that if the “dispute” drags on.

Word of suggestion to Mr. Sinclair – I’d start preparing the placards, because it doesn’t look to me like the grand-standing Jinny Sims is going to step off of her soapbox anytime soon.

Why would she back down now – she’s in trade union heaven. And, if all goes well, she might even get to go to jail and be martyred for her “political protest against an evil government” shtick. That, and $4 million dollars of your member’s money blown during the election campaign, will buy you a pretty strong cup of anti-government rhetoric.

I have to wonder how the 130 other public sector unions feel about the BCTF getting all the special attention, when they managed to settle quite sensibly with the government and continue on providing their services to the taxpayers and residents of this province.

Although there are some cries of “fire them all”, a la Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controllers in the early 90s, most people seem pretty supportive of their child’s teacher but very confused by actions of the teacher’s union.

They don’t understand why the BCTF is so bent on blindly sticking to the province wide collective bargaining process that has yet to actually yield them a negotiated settlement. As I wrote last week, since this form of bargaining was introduced in 1993 (incidentally by the NDP), every single teacher’s contract has had to be settled by the government stepping in because the employers and the BCTF could not come to terms.

Every single one.

But still the BCTF refuses to accept this government’s offer to sit down with Vince Ready and figure out a new and better way of conducting their negotiations. They seem to feel incredibly wronged by the suggestion that these negotiations have failed.

Guess what? These negotiations have failed. Now what are we going to do about it?

Hopefully once the teachers have blown off the steam due to their intense and completely understandable frustration, they can get back to work teaching our kids and their leadership can get back to their work of finding solutions with the employers.

That’s why the teachers have a union: to negotiate a contract – something that this overly politicized union leadership has failed to accomplish, despite 15 years of effort.

The BC Federation of Labour is going to want to consider carefully the pitfalls of calling a general strike to prop up a broken collective bargaining process. They would serve unionists in this province far better by insisting that the BCTF, the employers and the government work together to figure out a new and better way to reach an agreement.

Because, frankly, that’s what grown-ups do. We might have a little hissy fit when we don’t get our way, but once that’s over, we come back to the table and to work out a solution.

(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)


At 7:10 p.m., Blogger NL-ExPatriate said...

They are holding parents and kids hostage.

What parent in their right mind is going to speak out against teachers if their kids are in school?
You know teachers will retaliate against your kid by either marking harder or not offering the support they normally would. No sir teachers are using our kids as pawns to get their own way.

Why don't they strike during their 2 months of during the summer if they care so much about our kids?

teachers only work 8 months of the year and have a deal with EI to augment their pay for the other 4 months they have of paid.

6 hours a day 9-3

Take out summer break spring break Xmas etc etc

At 10:33 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BCTF has 42,000 plus what kind of work force in the world that size has only 2 or 3 termination's a year (usually a molestation conviction) there are some great very dedicated teachers out there but there are too some whom chose the wrong profession and their union protects them, as they convey their negativism towards students, parents and the private sector, I find the loudest militant socialist members are the ones whom no amount of money or " smaller class sizes" would ever satisfy them, they are trapped in something they don't enjoy but need the security therefore lack the courage to change to another field. By continually harming the product they produce in labor action (you don't see the IWA out spiking trees when they have a job action ) and spreading their poison to the newer members they will never gain majority public support, I would like to see them have a Canadian born B.C. leader not one from a eastern or european Labor block environment, whom is imprinted with a confrontational bias towards any government in power (never have had a negotiated settlement even with the NDP!!). 3 months off, optional pro d days, superior benefits to any private sector union, early retirement , indoor work, using class time to get students to mark papers, generic cut and paste report cards comments etc., all the pilfering that goes on with computers etc etc . etc. The exodus to private schools will continue along with the demographical shift from the Boomers, smaller class sizes are happening now.
You don't know what you got till it's gone ................ yes we have a surplus (maybe save a little for the future .... ,sort of like your Union pensions CCP, Old age and RRSP's (which hold coperate mutual funds of the companies you despise so much) 55 and your done wow!!) will they take a cut when the chips are down? and a recession hits like everyone in the positive tax generator private sector ......not a hope in hell...............
and we have to go back again to Ontario and Alberta as a have not province and beg for money to meet our public payroll ( I almost stole something today never had before but teachers break the law why not me?) for them to compare themselves to the real oppressed labor in this world (Child slavery etc.) and plead for the UN ILO support is laughable and callouss at best. signed PLS don't trash my GPA or future

At 1:17 a.m., Anonymous Larry said...

Another interesting and informative column Erin. Note: A recent CKNW-radio poll of 116,679 votes to the question.-"Do you support an illegal strike by the BCTF?" 71.73% voted NO. / Also yesterday CKNW host of Night Line B.C., Michael Smyth stated the BCTF informed, they won't appear on his show for now due to the host being disrespectful of the BCTF and it's president Jinny Sims. / The BCTF union thinks it can sellect which court rulings it decides is correct. No BCTF, it does not work that way, only in BCTF union socialist-land.

At 11:06 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not this JInny? you put your ego on the back burner comply with the LAW see if the Libs negotiate direct as they say.. if not in good faith.. you wildcat and walkout again!! it's better for everyone right now... it's all about you and your personal convictions at the expense of students whom you claim you are really acting for (right a status quo and a 15% salary increase and you have a better vote turn out then half to sign yes, yes yes) it's about pay cheques... under the guise of improving education.
Pull a Regan Gordo give them 24 hrs to report to work or fire en masse and start funding the privates.
the kids can go to school summer 2006 to catch up during the transition.
let the lemmings go jump off that cliff with Sims.
I'd love to sign this but last time a took stand my kid's GPA and Sports took a beating. Teachers go from school to college school back to school usually marry teachers and never really learn from the real world they never grow up and this defiance whining breaking the law under a "just" cause demonstrates their immaturity.

At 11:13 a.m., Anonymous Maurice Matte said...

Break Up The BCTF!
To the editor:
As a taxpayer and a parent, I have a serious problem with the BCTF. It is a troubled and outdated organization that demands to be dissolved. The public school system is in complete disarray from what it is meant to be. This is not to say that government isn't partially to blame for this mess, but it is to say that the BCTF is a very large and dangerous element within it.

Our society has a fundamental tenet: If you work harder, you will reap the rewards of your labour. In fact, school teachers supposedly teach this to children: if you work hard you will improve your understanding of the course material and your grades will also rise. Why then, does the BCTF under their "union flag" not apply this same tenet to their staff? Exceptional teachers are paid the same wage as poor ones. Where is the incentive? Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to fire or replace substandard teachers as the union protects them to the "end". It appears that a teacher can only lose his/her job if they commit an offence, and then some of these retain their posts at that! How disturbing. Sounds like communism.

How about the "tough" working conditions for BCTF Teachers? It's really quite fantastic: First you have a nine or ten month work year (instead of 11 or 12 months like most other people). You have all the major extended break school holidays including, but not limited to, Easter, Spring Break, and Christmas. Not to mention that the entire summer is yours. If you are at home sick, you have an infrastruction that ensures there is a replacement in your position for the day (or however long you need it). You have all the major benefits of pension, medical, dental, short and long term disability etc etc. This sounds like a great job, if one is pre-disposed to be a teacher and has the education and talent for the job. The "temper tantrum" we are currently seeing as expressed by the BCTF's illegal strike is an unfortunate "lesson" to our children. It teaches that "if you don't get your way, you simply break the rules, yell, and scream until you get what you want". I don't want my three children to attend that lesson. Tantrums shouldn't be allowed to work for 3-year-olds, nor should they be allowed to work for teachers.

I am baffled as to the audacity of the BCTF to demand that their workers have "perpetual protection" when it comes to wage increases, job security, and continued improvement in working conditions at the expense of everyone else. As a self employed individual, if my clients do not approve of my services, they simply move their business elsewhere. I must always look to ensure that I am working to the best of my abilities in order to retain my clients and their business. I must EARN their trust, respect, and their business. Most non-union jobs run this way. In the general non-union environment, one is paid for the quality of service provided or one loses the client, the job, or the project Pure and simple. Within the BCTF, it is a gold-plated existence for those who fail to meet the most basic of standards in education, as they are carried along in the "union current" of undeserved rewards. Sounds, again, like communism. I really feel sorry for the exceptional teachers who are caught up in the BCTF without any means to leave the union. They are underpaid.

In Kelowna, the spokesperson for the BCTF mentioned that some teachers have crossed the picket lines. He mentioned that the BCTF is not a "strong-arm" union so these people will not be "threatened". But, strangely, in the same breath he made mention that these teachers could have their membership in the BCTF revoked, and if their membership is revoked they cannot teach in the Province of B.C.. Hmm....sounds strangely like a threat to me. The BCTF and its "hard core" members must have forgotten what an illegal strike and "contempt of court" charges actually mean. Those teachers who crossed the picket lines did not want to break the law. I don't blame them. Maybe they would rather not be in the union. Although, we must remember, they do not have this right as teachers in the Peoples' Republic of the B.C.T.F.. Union membership is mandatory. Communism has failed everywhere in the world where it has been attempted, and B.C. is no different. Why are we trying to make it work here?

Here's another "kicker": The public school system is excess-funded to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars annually by all of us B.C. taxpayers who choose to send our children to Christian or private schools as our "right" to have our children learn within a non-secular environment.. At my children's Catholic Elementary school the parents pay entirely for the capital costs of buildings and must fund the teacher's payroll by 50% since our tax dollars are not able to be allocated to our children's school (unlike in the Province of Alberta where taxpayers allocate where their tax dollars go). In our Province, the B.C.T.F. benefits, unfairly, from my tax dollars which don't reach my children's school. And because of this funding shortfall for thousands of B.C. taxpayers whose children attend private schools, our children do not get the most up-to-date programs, computers, school buildings etc.. that the public system enjoys. If the BCTF can't function with all this over-funding, how could they ever manage if my tax dollars were allocated away from them and to my own children's school! How pathetic! Our Catholic school runs on a fraction of the budget of a similar public school and the level of education is superior. Case in point: Throwing good money after bad is not a logical course of action.

Nobody is holding a "gun" to the heads of BCTF teachers. If they don't like the working conditions so vehemently, then get another job like the rest of us. One final point: If the BCTF actually cared for the students instead of its own selfish interests as it has mentioned time and again, why didn't the BCTF strike during the summertime when it would not affect the lives of over 600,000 children?

At 3:44 p.m., Blogger NL-ExPatriate said...

Did you know?

That Cupe or BCTF shut down the home schooling program as well?

At least in Northern BC they did.


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