Tuesday, May 20, 2014

With Teacher Ultimatum, BC Liberal Government Just Kicked the Hornet's Nest

And the angry teachers are coming out.


Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee online column
Tuesday May 20, 2014
By Bill Tieleman
"Don't poke a hornet's nest and expect butterflies to come out."
Call it the government that kicked the hornet's nest, because the BC Liberals have done exactly the wrong thing in trying to reach a deal with the BC Teachers' Federation.
On Friday, the BC Public School Employers' Association announced it would cut teachers' salaries by five per cent unless the two parties reach a deal by June 30, intending to scare the union into accepting positions it has rejected to date.
BCPSEA will make it a 10 per cent cut if teachers take further but limited job action.
But instead, the government poked the proverbial hornet's nest and no butterflies flew out -- just angry teachers on Twitter.
Unfortunately, that's the pattern the BC Liberals repeatedly follow when it comes to teachers, despite being warned by a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision that they've been dead wrong.
Rather than increase the likelihood of a settlement, veteran government negotiator Peter Cameron -- a former militant union representative -- has angered teachers and hardened the union's resolve to fight harder.
The threat also obliterated any goodwill from Thursday's employer offer of a $1,200 signing bonus if a new collective agreement was reached by June 30 and to give up on its 10-year deal demand.
The union will now ask the B.C. Labour Relations Board to stop BCPSEA from threatening to dock teachers' pay.
Gov't genius: reuse failed tactics
Can the board's decision be predicted before the hearing even begins?
Not with 100 per cent certainty, but one needs only look at B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin's scathing January decision, which trashed the BC Liberal government for deliberately provoking a strike in a previous 2011 dispute, to get a clue.
"Another aspect of these pressure tactics was to have BCPSEA [the teachers' employer group] apply for an order of the Labour Relations Board to vary previous essential services orders so that districts could reduce teachers' pay. This application was brought but was unsuccessful," Griffin wrote.
More government genius: use tactics that failed before again.
Of course, Cameron and his boss, Education Minister Peter Fassbender, say this is simply the stick to go with the bonus carrot -- that's how you bargain. And they say that Griffin's overall ruling that the government intentionally tried to provoke a full-scale strike in 2011-12 is under appeal.
But they are provoking a strike again, and the reason is simple.
If all teachers walk off the job, the government believes it can legislatively impose a contract that it couldn't negotiate fairly.
Indeed, that was Griffin's conclusion regarding the 2011 situation: "The government thought that a teachers' strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support."
But with zero success to date, and multiple court decisions in favour of the union over the years, it's more than likely the BC Liberals are going to get stung again.





29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that the BC Liberals hard ball tactics are making many teachers angry. That's not the audience the BC Liberals are playing to. They are playing to the wider electorate who generally think teachers complain too much about a pretty decent gig.

Talk to any non-teacher about teachers and the conversation will move to "summer vacation" in about 60 seconds at most. Everyone likes teachers, knows they are important and wonders what the heck they spend all their time complaining about.

That's why the government generally "wins" these battles in the court of public opinion.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Keith Baldrey say the teachers were offered the exact same deal as the BCGEU & HEU.

I'm sure that will be news to the BC Liberals and BCTF.

Anonymous said...

Good article much detail, but one sided in favour of the BCTF.

Summer vacation and many professional days.

The BCTF asks for too much in bargaining does get what it wants, fumes until the agreement expires makes a big pity party intended for the public and on and on it goes.

Curiously those who were around before they became teachers saw the strikes and the woe is us led by Jinny Sims and earlier Larry Kuehn, so why did today's teachers become teachers if they knew the wages and so forth?

Many teachers voted BC Liberal in the last election.


Vanstar said...

It means nothing, Bill. Nary a teacher will vote Liberal, and they know that. Even the NDP couldn't cut deals with them and legislated them back to work every single time. In fact, since 1991, they have only settled once and that was NOT an NDP government.

This is an annual ritual. It will be over by June 30 so full time teachers can collect their summer paycheques and the part-timers EI.

And we can repeat it all again next year.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Vanstar. It's an over and over again ritual with the BCTF.

They say its for the kids, but in reality it is for themselves.

It will be over by June 30, and the teachers collect their summer paycheques and they go on a trip to Disneyland, or visit Uncle Henry in PEI with their kids.

scotty on denman said...

BC Liberal dirty pool is what's "over and over again ritual" with low-attention span electorate coming down on the government's side by rote every time.

Virtually every voter prejudices his or her rote with dimly remembered school days---day dreaming out the window, scoldings and disappointing grades. Too bad there isn't a passing grade on an exam---then maybe rote voters would be motivated to edit correct info down to cheat-note size, concealable in a sleeve cuff or on a pen-barrel: '01MoEdC.Clark tear teachers' contr; court overturn; gov. appeal; BCCoA reaffirm orig.dec.+fine gov.$2Mil for provoc.strike; '14 gov. repeat.provoc.-risk SCoC censure.

...not that correctly answering the skill-testing question necessarily means the facts actually sunk in. Happens all the time---over and over, even.

Anonymous said...

This voter does not prejudice with dimly remembered school days, a bit of day dreaming, no scoldings and no disappointing grades for this voter.

This voter sees the idiocy of the BCTF demanding 15% over 5 years when the BCGEU and HEU received just over 5% over the same period.

But The Left keeps snacking on the BCTF's rhetoric. Always blame the government and not themselves. The BCTF has a notorious reputation of being militant. "It's for the kids" they say. In reality it's for themselves.

Perhaps Scotty on Denman Street reminsicing of school when he was daydreaming of that cute girl in class who had a beefy guy on the football team as a boyfriend and poor scotty couldn't get her interested in him (or he figured he would be bashed to the ground if beefy boy friend caught him talking to her)

Steve Cooley said...

Collect their summer pay cheques... It used to be that all teachers received 10 cheques a year. They were paid during the 10 months school was in session. Now some school districts, maybe all, will issue the teachers pay in 12 cheques. Possibly a school district will pay in 26 cheques like they pay their trades people. Teachers never have received a summer pay cheque. No full time teacher has ever been eligible to collect EI. Likely, no part time teacher is eligible for EI either. They weren't eligible in the '70s when I taught.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Teachers were less militant back in the 1970s (a few relatives were teachers, and none of them were on strike. They were teachers in Vancouver, Coquitlam, and Chilliwack). Noen of them would be considered to be militant.

Had the mis fortune of a family friend being a teacher and ended up in his class. I passed his class with a high "B".

It was probably Larry Kuehn and his very left wing rhetoric that set off the BCTF on the road to its notorious reputation of being a militant union.

Anonymous said...

This particular round of bargaining aside (because its playing out like EVERY round of bargaining with the BCTF), the flummoxing issue continues to be teacher's desire to be treated like "professionals" while belonging to a trade union.

They want a larger say over their working conditions (like any professional would), but BCTF is always willing, at the end of the day, to sacrifice those issues for a bigger wage increase.

And one of the major reasons teachers will continue to lose the battle for public opinion is because their union fights to protect the jobs of incompetent and even criminal members. They are totally unlike a self-regulating profession in that regard and the public and parents hate that.

Steve said...

The rhetoric. about teachers just shows that the so called smart Liberal supporters aré pretty easy to wag with the same old líes they spin over and over. It is easy propaganda and just add left wing like it is a diretes word. The language of reactionaries. My wife has seven designated kids in her class and if it was a public school like the one I went to the other kids would have been removed. That is what this is about and check out Norm Farrell's site and you will get an idea about our reduces revenues due to subsidies that make it imperative that they make up the short fall on the back of workers they need to demonise. The criminals and hacks are in Victoria

Anonymous said...

Norm Farrell is out of the real world. His research is precise, but it's also a lot selective slop. At least Bill here has credibility as he has been in political parties and part of a government and has some successes (not a lot but a few).

So the BC Liberals are "criminals" are they? Would that same label be used for an NDP government?

The only criminals if there are any in BC are those within the NDP who let the last election slip past them.

e.a.f. said...

It may or may not be for the kids, but we do know the government isn't going to spend any additional monies on the kids' education. Therefore teachers are fairly reasonable in demanding they get money. Many have to spend their own money to purchase supplies for their classrooms, not to mention on occasion feeding the kids.

The lieberals don't like the teachers any more than the socreds did. As a group, they are simply too smart and uppity. All of them have university educations. Not a thing lieberals like to see.

Teachers are one group which still has decent wages, benefits, hours, etc. The lieberals would like that done away with. IF more people have no where to go, in terms of making a living, they will accept what is offered to them by multinational corporations.

As to young people entering the profession, know what the salaries are, so why join if it isn't enough: some people actually want to be teachers and figure they will fight to earn more and have better working conditions.

The teachers, thus far had avoided a full on strike. The lieberals fell into the trap. They decided to lock out and reduce salaries. even those who think teachers make too much, aren't going to like that. For most people, a contract is a contract and you don't back out. That is what the liebeals are doing. Its just like: we won't sell B.C. Rail, we won't fire hospital workers, we won't bring in the HST. The lieberals are simply re enforcing their reputation as people who can not be trusted, who break promises and contracts.

If they are willing to break a contract with teachers and roll back their salaries, how do we know they will honour their promises to create jobs and to ensure tanker safety. We don't. Once again clark and her lieberals have demonstrated they lie and can't be trusted. They don't care about kids. They claw back child support from kids who live at 50% below the poverty line. Just another e.g. of clark and her clueless crackers.

Anonymous said...

"It may or may not be for the kids, but we do know the government isn't going to spend any additional monies on the kids' education."

It has little to do with kid's education. Since when is a 15% wage demand part of any kid's education?

"Therefore teachers are fairly reasonable in demanding they get money. Many have to spend their own money to purchase supplies for their classrooms, not to mention on occasion feeding the kids."

Much of their "wage" is not spend on feeding the kids nor supplies for the classroom. They should not be doing that. Their role is to teach and coach. Not be a daycare attendant. Does this feeding of kids occur at high school too?

The lieberals don't like the teachers any more than the socreds did.

"As a group, they are simply too smart and uppity. All of them have university educations. Not a thing lieberals like to see. "

The NDP didn't like the teacher's demands in the 1990s either.

"Teachers are one group which still has decent wages, benefits, hours, etc. "

"if they do, why the drum and cymbals and wanting 15% over 4 years when the public sector got 5%?

Many teachers voted Social Credit and Liberal. A person is a fool to think 100% of the teachers or even 60% of them vote NDP.

"The teachers, thus far had avoided a full on strike. The lieberals fell into the trap. They decided to lock out and reduce salaries."

They've only threatened to reduce by 5% if the teachers go and continue with their walkout. The salaries will return when the teachers do.


even those who think teachers make too much, aren't going to like that. For most people, a contract is a contract and you don't back out.

There is no contract technically now. It expired. They are living on an expired contract.

The NDP never cared all that much about kids either.

Anonymous said...

Spend some time in any classroom or school you will see that teachers deserve everything they are asking for and more!!
Its not just about the money but you what they should be paid more but even more so our children deserve smaller classrooms and more help.
Those of you ignorant who think Its a sweet deal with summers off...teachers don't get holiday time during the year unless the children are out of school. Most people get 2-6 weeks holidays a year and can request time off Teachers can't! They just have their income spread out so they can get paid over the summer they do not get EI.
So do the research and Support our teachers!! teachers are educated professionals responsible for the futures children! They deserve to be paid fair as well have access to more help to they can give our
children the best!

Anonymous said...

They are being paid fairly. They deserve a raise, but not 15% over 5 years. Where is that money going to come from?

I never got 6 weeks off. In fact, 2 weeks was rare for me. There were no professional days either.

I support the teachers, but not the militancy of the BCTF. The BCTF should stop being a 1930's factory worker's union and be a professional association run professionally. Teaching is a profession. It's not a shop floor type job.

Anonymous said...

"Spend some time in any classroom or school you will see that teachers deserve everything they are asking for and more!!"

Statements like that are such a cop out. My father just spent 27 days in hospital including a 7 day stay in ICU. The people in the health care system are amazing. I could say 'Pay them whatever they want! They are worth it!".

But no government can afford to pay its public employees "whatever they want" or even "what they are worth". Of course teaching our children is vitally important, but so are a lot of other things that other public employees do: doctors, nurses, social workers, police officers, fire fighters.

And all of those other very worthy people are all fighting for public dollars as well.

So understand that when you are dealing with finite tax dollars saying teachers are "worth whatever they want" is also saying "and everyone else isn't."

Anonymous said...


"Spend some time in any classroom or school you will see that teachers deserve everything they are asking for and more!!"

Spend some time in [job environment here] or [job location here ] and you will see that [name of worker occupation here] deserve everything they are asking for and more!!

and on it goes.

Anonymous said...

Typical Canadian reaction to the Teachers strike..... "If I can't have it ...they can't have either.
To settle this once and for all the teachers should draw a line in the sand, shut everything down cold and tell the Lieberals that hell will freeze over before they work again without a contract.Stop screwing around trying to placate the low information mouth breathing public that they will never please and get it done.
If you want to look at a gold plated contract the the public never see go look at the last firepersons contract!

CGHZD

Anonymous said...

"To settle this once and for all the teachers should draw a line in the sand, shut everything down cold and tell the Lieberals that hell will freeze over before they work again without a contract."

Dumb move. Besides at some point the teachers would be sent to arbitration and a contract they don't like. That idea was thought of before - nothing new.


"Stop screwing around trying to placate the low information mouth breathing public that they will never please and get it done.
If you want to look at a gold plated contract the the public never see go look at the last firepersons contract!"

Easy on that one junior. There's a big difference between teachers and firefighters. That contract is just for Delta Fire.

The IAFF is far more professional than the BCTF.


Anonymous said...

What you were taught in school is different then what is taught now. The curriculum changes by gov't decree, so teachers need Pro D. days to upgrade to the new system and to gather and spread new teaching ideas to meet the new expectations.
Secondly, it is always good for teachers to get new ideas about how to teach to particular topics or expectations. It is what makes teaching dynamic. It is not a common thread from year to year, it must be responsive to the students in the class.One year, a teacher may teach one way, but in another class, it must be taught another way to meet the student needs.

Anonymous said...

"What you were taught in school is different then what is taught now. The curriculum changes by gov't decree, so teachers need Pro D. days to upgrade to the new system and to gather and spread new teaching ideas to meet the new expectations."

The curriculum doesn't change mid year. There's no need for a large number of Pro D. days.

"Secondly, it is always good for teachers to get new ideas about how to teach to particular topics or expectations. It is what makes teaching dynamic. It is not a common thread from year to year, it must be responsive to the students in the class.One year, a teacher may teach one way, but in another class, it must be taught another way to meet the student needs."

Quite correct, but it depends on the teacher and the subject.

There's little change in teaching PE. There is lots of improvements needed in teaching English writing.

A wage boost of 15% isn't going to change any of that.

Raymond Graham said...

"A wage boost of 15% isn't going to change any of that".

Wait a minute! When the Liberal MLA's unanimously agreed to a 30% payraise for themselves they argued it was "to attract the best and the brightest".

Those same MLA's then argued that the teachers deserved 0%; 0%; 0%; 2%; and 2% for the following 5 years. I'm thinking that if I was teacher it would be about time to catch up on some of those effective wage reductions since '07.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! When the Liberal MLA's unanimously agreed to a 30% payraise for themselves they argued it was "to attract the best and the brightest".

You're forgetting the NDP also agreed to that very same wage increase.

They subsequently in a public show said they would take the difference between the old salary and the new one and donate it to charity. They did indeed do that but there was never any mention of any of the NDP MLAs not taking the tax receipt for tax deduction purposes, and much of that ballyhooed "charity donation" lasted only a year.

If I were a teacher, I'd tell the BCTF to knock off the excessive wage demands and actually be a professional level union, and focus on the kids and not be greedy and get on with a much better way of collective bargining. This war of 30 years has to end.

Anonymous said...

Having voted in favour of, and participated in a number of strikes now, I feel confident in predicting that strike action at this point will only cost teachers money. If there is any compensation by way of class size and composition, it will be on the backs of teachers and short-lived (unless we choose to subsidize class size again in the next round).

I don't think we can hope for more than a moral victory here, and I think we can do that without further cost to teachers.

We teach our kids that we can walk away from bullies, and that is what I suggest we do here. Rather than be bullied into a so-called agreement, I think the BCTF should walk away from the table. Send us back to work in good faith, and wait for the government to come back to us with their suggestions for some means of resolving this issue. In the meantime, the BCTF might work on developing our own.

Walking away from the table without a signed agreement leaves the government without the security they want, and takes nothing away from us. It provides everyone with time to cool off and think of better solutions to an ongoing problem. It gives us the chance to end our year with students and families on a positive note. Teachers will not be financially impacted. In this case, everyone but the government would win.

I believe a strike vote is misguided at this time. For the first time in my 20 years as a member, I must vote against a strike mandate that hurts teachers for no real gain.

In the event a strike vote is taken and passes, I urge the BCTF to fight our battle on a single front. Education is a public good. Ultimately it is for the public to decide how that service will be provided, and to pay for the level of service they expect. It is the public's responsibility to defend students. The BCTF should let class size and composition go and focus on our pay checks.

Anonymous said...

Having voted in favour of, and participated in a number of strikes now, I feel confident in predicting that strike action at this point will only cost teachers money. If there is any compensation by way of class size and composition, it will be on the backs of teachers and short-lived (unless we choose to subsidize class size again in the next round).

I don't think we can hope for more than a moral victory here, and I think we can do that without further cost to teachers.

We teach our kids that we can walk away from bullies, and that is what I suggest we do here. Rather than be bullied into a so-called agreement, I think the BCTF should walk away from the table. Send us back to work in good faith, and wait for the government to come back to us with their suggestions for some means of resolving this issue. In the meantime, the BCTF might work on developing our own.

Walking away from the table without a signed agreement leaves the government without the security they want, and takes nothing away from us. It provides everyone with time to cool off and think of better solutions to an ongoing problem. It gives us the chance to end our year with students and families on a positive note. Teachers will not be financially impacted. In this case, everyone but the government would win.

I believe a strike vote is misguided at this time. For the first time in my 20 years as a member, I must vote against a strike mandate that hurts teachers for no real gain.

In the event a strike vote is taken and passes, I urge the BCTF to fight our battle on a single front. Education is a public good. Ultimately it is for the public to decide how that service will be provided, and to pay for the level of service they expect. It is the public's responsibility to defend students. The BCTF should let class size and composition go and focus on our pay checks.

Anonymous said...

The only party collecting a free lunch here is the BC liberal party...and its always on the publics dime. Their track record is an open sor..I mean book...where anyone with even a lazy eye can see the that something is missing...chiefly credibility and what certainly appears to be integrity. Unconstitutional bills struck down by courts, legislated labor disputes, Broken promises, lavish, self appointed pay raises, and questionable doings in general. All paid for by we the people. Then there is the topic of days not worked during the year. I'm not the only one who has had enough gouging from my pocket...and its not the educators who's hands I see clutching the most cash.

Anonymous said...

there appears to be so much diversionary tactics from the real issues at stake by manipulating the public into thinking this fight is about teacher’s wages; perhaps a little real Math would help there.
As any grade six student knows, you do not calculate percentage totals of two different variables by adding them.
An 8% raise on salary, and a 6.5% raise on benefits DOES NOT EQUAL a 14.5% raise.
A % is out of 100. Two variables ( salary plus benefits) cannot be added to get a % total.

Similar to two items of $100 each, for sale at 8% for one, and 6.5% for the other; you don’t TOTAL them to get 14.5% off at the cashier.
You would get $14.50 of $200. (That means you have an average between the 2 variables of 7.25% in total.) So let's apply the word 'idiocy' as used by a previous commentor to theose who didn't spot this 'mistake'.

She cited the moral and legal context for her determination as government conduct that could be placed somewhere on a spectrum between negligent “wilful blindness” and a clearly wrong “abuse of power.” And without substantial penalties for such actions, she argued, it was simply “too tempting” for governments to dismiss and extinguish the basic civil rights of the governed.

How much more dire a warning about our government could a high-ranking representative of our judiciary give us? “ 1 ( Rob Wipond).

You people whining about teachers and unions are easily manipulated.

Anonymous said...

BC can't afford the Liberals. They're slackers and they don't earn their keep. They try to stealth tax everyone and corporations get a free ride.