From Christian Obeck
Parents Actively Protest on September 2nd
You want to know why the BCTF and the Liberals are in a current
stalemate in their negotiations. It's pretty simple, but I can't believe
it took me until now to figure it out. If I’m wrong, please let me
Everything goes back to Justice Griffin's ruling by the BC
Supreme Court. As many of you know, Justice Griffin ruled against the BC
Liberals and found them guilty of illegally tearing up a
legally-binding, negotiated contract (a contract which had class size
and composition language in it). The Liberals were also found to have
negotiated in bad faith, having goaded the BCTF into a strike position.
Because the ruling is currently under appeal, the Liberals have been
able to avoid re-instating the classroom size and composition language
into the present contract. But this is the BIG CRUX, and this is why we
are in a current stalemate: if the Liberals legislate teachers back to
work, they will confirm to the courts that they are once again unable to
negotiate a contract with teachers. The Griffin ruling will therefore
remain as the most 'current' language in the contract. But, and this is a
big but, if the BCTF 'accepts' the current offer on the table (an offer
that does not have any class size or composition guarantees), then the
Griffin ruling (moving forward) will be seen as null and void. In other
words, a 'negotiated' agreement will be viewed as the most present and
legal contract moving forward.
And that is why we are at a current
stalemate in bargaining. If the BCTF accepts anything 'less' than what
the courts have already awarded them (but actually don't yet have
because of the appeal), then they will have to accept these terms moving
forward. It will invariably trump the Griffin ruling and any hopes of
re-establishing classroom size and composition to past levels. Why would
the BCTF accept anything less than what the courts have told them is
In my opinion, the BCTF have no choice but to NOT
accept the current Liberal offer, an offer that is not even close to
what Justice Griffin has already awarded them. As a result, it is
absolutely crucial that the BCTF out-wait the Liberals and stay on
strike. And yet, on the flip-side this is extremely difficult for
teaching professionals who both want to start school on time AND earn
their first pay cheque in 10 weeks.
The only hope, then, is that the
people of this province do not allow the Liberals to keep schools
closed through September. Because, in all honesty, they are NOT acting
on behalf of our children, they are merely taking a political stance
that (yes, I agree) would allow them to continue their fiscal austerity
when it comes to funding education. And, to a certain degree, this was
their campaign promise. And the people of BC did vote them in.
BCTF simply can't fold on this one. The courts have spoken. They won
fair and square in the courts. Only an appeal keeps them away from this.
The BCTF (teachers) are simply standing up for what the courts have
legally awarded them.
It is a historical moment in BC regarding how
education is funded. While we all want our children in school, hopefully
the above has helped to explain why we are at a current stalemate.
Accepting a deal that is anything less at this moment in time just
doesn’t make sense. The Liberals hold the cards in terms of starving
teachers out; the teachers hold the biggest card, however: the Griffin
ruling. Kids and parents hold no cards--except for your willingness to
protest starting September 2nd.
As a parent, and now knowing what we
know, I think its time that we all take a side. We need to get off the
fence and be active. Whatever side you choose, please be active on