Friday, June 06, 2014

BC Teachers and Christy Clark BC Liberal Government Need Relationship Enhancement Counselling

How to save teachers? 
For the kids' sake, here's one option the quarrelling partners should consider - entering the Labour Relations Board program for unions and employers "experiencing difficulties in their ongoing relationship" 

Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee online column

Tuesday June 3, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." 
- William James, American psychologist, 1842-1910
Any observer can tell that when it comes to the BC Liberal government and the B.C. Teachers' Federation, there is almost no relationship but plenty of attitude. And both sides have lots of reasons why they don't get along.
But unlike a constantly quarrelling couple that should just split up and go their separate ways, the provincial government and the teachers' union can't get a divorce -- not now, not ever.
The sour marriage desperately needs counselling, especially if we don't want the relationship to affect the kids, in this case B.C. students.
Fortunately, there is a solution, one that has been around all along.
Towards a 'mature' relationship
The B.C. Labour Relations Board has an innovative and effective program for dysfunctional collective bargaining partners.
"The Relationship Enhancement Program is intended for employers and unions who are experiencing difficulties in their ongoing relationship and who are interested in establishing and maintaining a more productive and positive relationship," reads the board's website.
As a former employee representative at the board, as well as a senior staff person at the B.C. Federation of Labour, I've seen some very ugly, antagonistic union-management situations transform through this program into "mature bargaining relationships," where conflict is appropriately managed.
That doesn't mean there will never be a strike or lockout, but it does mean that most often the union and employer will reach a new contract without a work stoppage, and that happens in about 97 per cent of all negotiations in Canada.
One thing is clear: you can't enhance the relationship in the middle of a dispute. It has to happen with the heat off.
Give peace a chance
So here's one of many possible ways to end this strike/lockout and try to fix the relationship for next time.
The government can start by agreeing to negotiate, not legislate. Teachers can't accept an imposed contract that ignores all their concerns, and neither party wants an arbitrated agreement: government for fear of the costs, the union for fear of possible outcomes. So they have to negotiate.
Both sides agree to a short-term contract, not a six or 10-year deal, during which time they participate willingly in the Relationship Enhancement Program.
They accept that there will be wage increases for teachers, and that for this short contract they will be within the broader public sector wage settlement parameters.
They embrace the universal acceptance that kids with special needs deserve more help in the classroom, and funding this must be part of the immediate contract.
Could this actually work? Yes.
But as the Labour Relations Board clearly states: "The program will only succeed if both the employer and the union acknowledge that their relationship needs improvement. In addition, they both must be prepared to commit the time and resources required. It must be strongly emphasized that support for the program by the key personnel from both the employer and the union is essential."

Given that each side has spent millions of dollars, teachers and support staff have lost countless hours of pay, students have missed class time, the government's reputation is further damaged, and we appear no closer to an agreement, I would say it's time to give peace -- and counselling -- a chance.

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14 comments:

ron wilton said...

Wisely, most if not all teachers have rather significant and varied academic qualifications which, of course, makes them very well suited to imparting learning to future generations.

Unwisely though, far too many politicians, particularly highly positioned ones, do not have significant academic credentials that would qualify them to perform the duties they are given.

Like it or not, well educated people tend to have a broader perspective and understanding of lifes foibles and are better equiped to deal with them than those less enabled.

In BC the academic shortcomings of our highly placed politicians has made them prey to the influence of uber professional wealth earners who, as history has shown, derive their vast monetary wealth by exploiting the vulnerable, poorly informed masses.

Unless and until we 'educate' our future politicians at least to the level of their teachers, they, and we by extension, will always be taken unfair advantage of by the exploiters.

Our present governors have been seduced by the exploiters to keep us dumbed down by crippling the very means by which we can rise above the present ubfair wealth distribution in this country and particulary in this province.

BC's teachers should be paid no less than the top teachers in the rest of Canada and they should be given the decision to determine what class size is best suited to the needs of their charges.

Barrie Bolton said...

The entire union style barganing is a muggs game in the public sector. It harms the "clients" and the "workers", and saves the "employer" money without losing income. Thuis system is broken. It has been for many years. An ombudsman with some clout could be a way forward in this situation.

Barrie Bolton said...

Union style barganing in the public sector is a mugs game. The "clients" and the "workers" lose, the "employer" saves money, and loses no income. This sytem is broken and has been for some years. An ombudsman with some political clout might be able to make a difference.

Eleanor Gregory said...

'How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.'

Anonymous said...

Curiously there isn't much emphasis on the BCTF to act. There has not been any legislation in this round of negotiations. There was previously but time to let it go and start anew.

Problem big is that the BCTF hates to lose.

Also worth investigating is why Inker is getting full salary at a time when the teachers are getting just strike pay as long as that holds out? Inker should take a bit of a salary reduction when there is a period of rotating strikes as a sign of solidarity with the teachers.

Both sides equally are to blame. It's been the same old game for 25 years and it has to end.

Put Fassenbender and Inker in a room with one representative from each side and they're not allowed out until an agreement is made.

"Unwisely though, far too many politicians, particularly highly positioned ones, do not have significant academic credentials that would qualify them to perform the duties they are given."

apples to both the BC Liberals AND the NDP equally.

Anonymous said...

Just curious but why the comment about the NDP? The opposition party certainly is not in the negotiation on either side. What experience has the present minister in negotiating a contract,especially one involving our kids? Regional bargaining worked better but the present government won't allow it

Anonymous said...

Please Mr. Tieleman, this is and has been the preferred method of the Koch bros to privatize the Public School system. It is a method by which they pit the public school teachers with the public who seem to think that schools should be daycare.
If one thinks about it, the liberals have been taken to court about this method, have been doing this since 2002, have broken the moral of teachers, and have for the most part ensured that Private schools will be coming. To the parents, be careful what you wish for as qualifying for private schools may be out of your reach and on-line schools are the biggest farce ever. Our premier has hired the ex-CEO of Surrey Connect, on-line school backed by Pearson, that is a complete failure. Also, this experiment has failed in the US, take note of what happened in Detroit and district where they have abandoned the idea because it just doesn't make enough money. Here in BC/Canada, it will be you the tax payers who will foot the bill, yet you may not be included in the enrolling list.
Do some research before you level your agreement with what Mr. Tieleman has purposed something that slams the teachers as well as this government.

e.a.f. said...

if they got rid of Fassbender, it might work, but with that idiot on t.v. representing the government, who the hell is going to believe the lieberals. When his mouth is moving, you know he is lying.

Please go have a read of Norm Farrell's Northern Insight, the column written by his son, the educator. It explains it all. As long as Christy and Fassbender have anything to do with it, nothing is going to change.

The BCTF is a Union, they have the right to act like one. The employer is more of a jerk than most employers because they don't like the employees. You see the employees are all university educated. The M.L.A.S, not so much. They can't even demonstrate they understand what teachers do for a living or what goes on in the class room.

It was funny, most MLA's didn't even respond to questions regarding where their children were being educated. We now Christy Clark's son goes to St. George's. That about says it all.

The lieberals have money for everything except the children of B.C. They continue to fund private schools, but private schools, get to "cherry" pick their students. Nice. The lieberals don't even consider children with attention deficit disorder as being challenged.

best way to settle this contract, is lock Fassbender and Christy Clark in a typical class room and don't let them out until they clearly understand what is going on. 30 kids, majority don't speak English well, half from single parent families, 4 learning disabled, no aides, no funds for art supplies, oh and then one in 5 is living below the poverty line so they came to school hungry, cold, and sad. Their parents couldn't afford the dentist, so they are in pain also. Welcome to teaching in B.C.

Any sort of "educational" program such as you suggested for employer/unions isn't going to work with the lieberals. They want the BCTF gone. They are too smart and give the lieberals a great big little complex, which isn't going to go away. The dynamics can be found in any organization where the staff are smarter than management.

(I'm not a teacher nor are my friends or relatives. no kids either)

Anonymous said...

"if they got rid of Fassbender, it might work, but with that idiot on t.v. representing the government, who the hell is going to believe the lieberals. When his mouth is moving, you know he is lying."

Same thing can be said about Inker. Why is he getting full paid salary when his members are not? He should have his salary reduced in solidarity.

"Please go have a read of Norm Farrell's Northern Insight, the column written by his son, the educator. It explains it all. As long as Christy and Fassbender have anything to do with it, nothing is going to change."

Norm Farrell has sloppy research and used his son to try prove something, which he could not. Bill has a better handle and has better presentations of opinion than Farrell does. At least Bill here is a paid communications person. Farrell is just a blog hobbyist.

"The BCTF is a Union, they have the right to act like one. The employer is more of a jerk than most employers because they don't like the employees. You see the employees are all university educated. The M.L.A.S, not so much. They can't even demonstrate they understand what teachers do for a living or what goes on in the class room."

The BCTF has been a militant union since Larry Kuehn took on as President. The Operating Engineers is also a union, but they are far more professional than the BCTF is. Even the Pipefitters and OTEU is better in handling collective agreements.

It was funny, most MLA's didn't even respond to questions regarding where their children were being educated. We now Christy Clark's son goes to St. George's. That about says it all. "

It says "that's a private matter". A person would have to be stupid to be roped into a trap like that.
Some of those MLAs that did not respond are NDP.

"The lieberals have money for everything except the children of B.C. They continue to fund private schools, but private schools, get to "cherry" pick their students. Nice. The lieberals don't even consider children with attention deficit disorder as being challenged. "

The NDP had money for the FastCats and Skeena Cellulose but obviously not a lot for education at the time.

"best way to settle this contract, is lock Fassbender and Christy Clark in a typical class room and don't let them out until they clearly understand what is going on. 30 kids, majority don't speak English well, half from single parent families, 4 learning disabled, no aides, no funds for art supplies, oh and then one in 5 is living below the poverty line so they came to school hungry, cold, and sad. Their parents couldn't afford the dentist, so they are in pain also. Welcome to teaching in B.C. "

Maybe they should include e.a.f, and Inker in that room too, eh?



"(I'm not a teacher nor are my friends or relatives. no kids either)


So what makes you an expert over anyone else. Is being a Fussbudget a qualifier? Or perhaps being one of B.C.'s finest whines, ready for Bill's whine cellar?

Anonymous said...

Your knocking of Norm Farrell is really funny as he is anything but sloppy but that is the PAB line as they cannot confront his truth but can only try and discredit him with innuendos. Pretty sad state if affairs at PAB headquarters.

Anonymous said...

There isn't much to confront Norm Farrell's interpretation of "the truth". He's one sided,
obviously feeds The Left enriched crapola. He's also a research assistant to the NDP Caucus want to be.

He has very little understanding in practical terms resource development and markets for our resources. Even the NDP has acknowledged that is a good source of additional revenue for paying for things the public wants from government. BC cannot be xenophobic as Albania was during Enver Hoxha's regime.

How does PAB equate into the argument? What if it was an NDP PAB (which would have existed if the NDP won the last election).

John Jacobsen said...

Anyone in this province who could afford it would choose to send their kids to private schools.

Anonymous said...

Referencing Fast Ferries as if that was BC's worst economic disaster of the past 15 years, instead of a drop in the bucket compared to what the BC Liberals have done is not only moronic but offensive. The BC Liberals, with their "best and brightest" team of private sector failures who nevertheless warrant 70% pay increases, in fact, have plunged the province far deeper into debt ($63 billion being a very conservative estimate, not counting the future obligations of BC Hydro) than the NDP ever could have, all WHILE CUTTING SERVICES AND RAISING FEES. Anyone who thinks this is good economic management in service of the public good is an idiot, plain and simple. Not unlike our lame duck premier who attended three universities and somehow never managed to graduate (yet was education minister under Gordon Campbell? Could he have been more openly offensive?) The BC Liberals are not only poorly qualified to manage the province's affairs, they are uneducated bumpkins. STOP VOTING FOR THEM. OKAY??

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill and thanks for the article. I am a teacher and a parent and I agree with most of what you have written however as you know there is very little movement happening. I am curious as to why you left out the autocratic nature of the Liberal government ignoring the Supreme Court of BC twice. Do you agree with, as you wrote during the whole HST fiasco, that "the appropriate response to abuse of power is to remove power" (you in Tyee on Jun 29, 2010)? This government is ignoring the highest court in BC. If that is not an abuse of power, I don't know what is. Will the citizens of BC defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or is this being overlooked because it concerns teachers (although shouldn't we all be concerned)?