“I support kids, not the union.” What a crock!

I wonder how many teachers who say, “I support kids, not the BCTF,” have really tried to imagine the past ten years in BC public school teaching without the BCTF. I wonder if anyone really thinks they would have achieved a legal victory over the government on Bill 27/28 if there had been no union in place to fight the law on constitutional bases. THE CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY YOUR GOVERNMENT!!! Do you really think you could stand alone against such tyranny without support? The victory in this case will go down in Canadian legal history as an enormous victory in support of human rights. Its precedent will forever illuminate the rights of workers in Canada – your children, for example.

Similarly, I wonder how many people believe that teachers would have been able to negotiate a contract with the BC Liberal Government in 2005 without the union. Do these people recall how quickly the government moved to legislate a contract? Do they recall the solidarity we had and the support we had? Do they recall that the dispute only was able to last ten days before the employer gave in to arbitration? I wonder if there is anyone who believes that the BC Liberal government would have worked cooperatively with teachers had there not been a union at that time. Has this government ever worked cooperatively with the grass roots of any public service agency?

The BCTF is not perfect. No human institution is perfect. But in these times, I am amazed to hear people disparage their own union. In my whole life, I’ve never seen such closed off, mean spirited government as what we are seeing now. I’ve never seen such flagrant disregard for the rights of the citizenry in my whole life as I have seen in Bill 22, and yet I hear teachers who want to engage in kinder, gentler job action. Why? To gain public support? If we had public support, the Liberals would have negotiated with us in the first place – long before there was any talk of job action. Public support will not get better for us, no matter what we do. We are a largely female profession, and you KNOW the history of public support when it comes to anything female (or do you?). We either take a serious, defiant stand now, or we accept the government’s message that public school is not important, that teachers are somehow unworthy of international labour law, and therefore should be denied fundamental labor rights like seniority and freedom from interference through these ridiculous mandatory evaluations. I will not stand cap in hand and accept such abuse. And what empowers me to make this stand? The union.

I’m tired of the mantra, “I support kids, not the union”, as if the union doesn’t care about kids. If the union didn’t stand for you, you would be powerless to stand for anything, including the kids. And good luck to them if we give up this fight!

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2 thoughts on ““I support kids, not the union.” What a crock!

  1. Love your blog! Totally agree with you – including the observation about teaching being a majority female profession. Why has it become such an ugly issue to identify sexism when it is operating right in our faces? It is a breath of fresh air to read your points of view!

  2. Thank you.

    I’ve never claimed to be a diplomat so I won’t start now.

    To that minority of teachers who now are saying that they won’t vote for the action plan because it is too vague . . . to that minority of teachers who think that they’re the only ones who feel bad about potentially giving up extra-curricular activities or, who think their extra-curricular activity is the only one that counts as important . . . to that minority of teachers who feel compelled to go to the media telling how unhappy they are with our union, our action plan:

    Where were you at all the local meetings, for the past year, when you could have been adding your voice to the dialogue?

    Where were you when your local asked for people to step forward and join committees, run for executive office, or as happens most often, just put your name forward because we usually don’t have enough people to have local elections for all positions? You could have had your say and even affected change, before the fact.

    Where were you when it came time to put your name forward for the AGM, where you would have had a say in the action plan? Where were you when your fellow members spent 1/2 their spring break sitting in 12 hour meetings and having the opportunity to have their say and casting their vote for the BCTF executive? (By the way, I didn’t attend nor put my name forward to attend the AGM, so this isn’t sour grapes because I had to sit through those grueling days.)

    You think you are putting kids first . . . how? By continuing the extra-curricular activity for a couple of months?

    How about putting kids first for the years ahead? by sending a loud and clear message to this government that you care about kids, using the only avenue that this government has left open to us.

    Tell them that you want to help kids by spending quality time with the individual students in your class, by differentiating their learning, and you can’t do that effectively with 30+ kids.

    Tell them that you want to help the special needs kids and do the best job you can with their individual programs. That, by having no more than 3 special needs kids in your class, you will be able to serve them well, but by increasing the numbers, your time for each child’s program will be spread that much thinner.

    Tell them you want to help, not only the coded children, but the code-pending kids and those who just require a bit of learning assistance each day by having more support — more support teachers and learning assistance teachers — more school psychologists who do the testing and coding — more speech & language and OT and PT and hearing and seeing teachers and teacher-librarians. You know, those specialists that the government has reduced so greatly in number?

    Put kids first, for the long haul.

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