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!