Thursday 4 September 2014

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 know.
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 legally theirs?
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.
The 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 September 2nd.
Christian Obeck

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