I’m going to hold my nose and vote YES today for ratification of the teachers contract.
I’m not happy with the contract. A wage increase below the cost of inflation after 3 years of 0% is unnecessarily austere. What I do is a valuable service. I’m a citizen. We live in a prosperous province. It infuriates me that my service is viewed as a tax burden – that my industry is viewed as less important than a roof on a little-used sports stadium, or investment in an already-saturated fossil fuel industry (Liquid Natural Gas). What could be more important than a good educational experience for kids?
But I’ll vote YES anyway.
While corporations reap huge profits, BC’s lowest-in-Canada corporate tax rate only ensures that the wealth of these multinational giants does nothing to make BC better. Through a more progressive tax structure in line with the rest of the country, BC could provide children with better learning conditions, and public sector citizens with a living that keeps pace with inflation. How angry and frustrated it makes me feel knowing this, and knowing that my government wants me to lose my standard of living! Am I not a citizen? Is our province’s prosperity not for me?
And this is why we’ll never have labour peace as long as the BC Liberals run the show. Whatever economy they claim to be supporting, it isn’t the economy of most citizens.
So why will I vote YES?
Well, quite simply, we lost. And I suppose it was inevitable. How can we win against a government who doesn’t value what we do? How can there be any expectation of compassion from a government who repeatedly violates Charter rights?
To be honest, I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of teachers being the only group that fights for public education. Other unions don’t; universities don’t; parent groups don’t; the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t; the principals and vice principals don’t. Even school districts themselves don’t. The real fight always falls on teachers and always at contract time. It’s exhausting emotionally and financially. Eventually a person needs to be at work.
I will vote YES. Though we’ve given away a lot, it hasn’t been a total loss. We have managed to force government to obey the law. I suppose that’s something, although it’s something we shouldn’t have to do. Where are law societies, professional organizations and corporations themselves? And most of all, WHERE IS THE PRESS? Doesn’t anyone understand democracy any more?
Christy Clark tried to frame the latest dispute as a well fought noble battle, with an ending that will lead to labour stability and healing. The opposite is true. This government’s treatment of 41,000 citizens is disgraceful. And there will never be labour peace.
I will vote YES. This isn’t the hill I’ll die on. There are many battles ahead.
I’ll be watching Christy Clark and her cronies. I will watch every single step they take, and I will shout their acts of tyranny from the mountaintops: their ongoing and repeated conflicts of interest, their constant foibles in the courts, their deceptive sound bites in the press. I’ll teach it in the classrooms and in every public medium. Future voters will not miss a single transgression. In every venue, to every ear I’ll expose them.
The people will see them for who they are. A whole new generation of voters will see them for who they are.