Teachers vs. the BCTF
Last night, BC teachers voted to vent their frustrations with a broken province-wide collective bargaining process and stage an illegal walk-out tomorrow.
The BCTF said it was appalled that the provincial government had stepped in to provide a cooling off period for the stalled contract negotiations.
To be fair, it is clearly a pretty sick process – and that’s what Don Wright basically said in his report last spring. He also commented that binding arbitration was an alternative way to ensure kids aren’t held hostage every time the BCTF cranks up their contract bargaining process.
The BCTF and the BC Public School Employees Association have met 35 times and haven’t agreed on a single item. Teachers were speeding towards expanded job action with no substantive movement on any of the issues that both sides wanted to see addressed.
However, the BCTF instead of welcoming the chance to have the negotiating process examined by a fact-finder and the opportunity to re-start negotiations on a clean page have decided that throwing a wrench in the education system the Friday before Thanksgiving will help achieve their goal of an agreement.
As much as most of us would like one more day on our long weekend, job action like this does nothing to endear parents to the teacher union’s cause. The BCTF has struck out in the public relations battle this time around and there is a really simple reason for it.
Teachers allowed their union, the BCTF, to become so politicized during the last provincial election that it lost the credibility it needed to win the fight for the hearts and minds of parents. Parents know that the BCTF spent over $4 million dollars trying to defeat the government.
The rest of the facts don’t help their cause much either.
In the twelve years since 1993 when the NDP government of the day imposed province wide bargaining (all school boards and all teachers became subject to the same process), no contract has been signed without the government stepping in to make sure it happened. Not one. Period. Not with the NDP in government and not with the BC Liberals.
One starts to wonder with whom the problem lays if the BCTF couldn’t come to agreement with either government – friend or foe – because it sure becomes fascinating when you realize that 130 other public sector agreements have been reached in the past five years.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the teachers who work hard with our kids day in and day out, guiding them academically and socially, are not being well-served by their union. Every single teacher that my daughter has had in the past four years has been kind, hard-working and has gone way above and beyond the letter of the collective agreement. In other words, they’ve been true professionals.
Perhaps teachers in BC might want to start to look at other ways of organizing themselves. At some point, you’d think they’d get pretty tired of a union that isn’t serving their needs and that continually reduces their profession’s credibility with parents, students and the general public.
As published today in 24 Hours Daily