Why I Don’t Know Whether I’ll Vote Yes

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I recently re-blogged a post from The Coal Mine, a blog written by an eloquent BC teacher who explains the current situation between the provincial government and the BCTF.

(I’d hoped to add his post to this one. Unfortunately my technological skills are sadly lacking so they are two separate posts, appearing days apart.)

Today we all vote on whether to ramp up our rotating strikes to a full on withdrawal of service. I know how The Coal Mine will vote.

I’m still unsure how I’ll vote.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with all his points, but I feel a sense of powerlessness when I consider the injustice of the situation. (The provincial government has been found guilty of illegally stripping the teachers’ contract and bargaining in bad faith by two different courts. They have been ordered to repair the damage to the system and pay the union’s legal fees. Have they complied? Of course not! After over ten years and who knows how many gazillion dollars that could have energized the school system, the government has appealed yet again.)

So why haven’t I decided whether I’ll vote in favour of increased job action?

Partly because I have a sick feeling resistance is futile.

I’ve learned the government is above the law and the courts don’t actually carry any weight. (Don’t like the verdict?–appeal!) The party with the deepest pockets will always win because eventually the other side runs out of money fighting the endless appeals.

The stress is getting to me. I’m grumpy, snapping at everyone in the family. (Well, everyone except the dog because you have to draw the line somewhere.)

I just want an end to this conflict.

Sure, our public education system is limping along, getting a little worse every year, but maybe it’s gotten beyond the point where a group of teachers standing up to the provincial government can fix it.

That’s why I don’t know how I’ll vote later today.

Labour Unrest (Warning: Political Rant to Follow!)

001We’re on strike!

Well not a strike, exactly. I don’t think we’re allowed to do that. It’s a legally sanctioned stage one job action. And it’s very complicated.

We’re not attending any meetings with principals…unless it’s related to student safety, behaviour, custody issues, legal matters, or if the principal is directly involved in providing educational programming to said student.

We’re not doing supervision of students…unless the school is unable to manage providing adequate supervision using only non-BCTF staff.

I think that’s about it.

(We teachers are a tough bunch! Piss us off and we’ll…refuse to read your emails!)

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, we’re not accepting any electronic communications, aka emails, from principals. (That’ll hit ’em where it hurts!)

What are we doing it for? Well a little more money would be nice. (BC teachers are among the lowest paid in the country.) We’re also hoping to restore class size and composition to our collective agreement. These issues were illegally stripped from our contract about ten years ago.

Since then the union and the government have been involved in numerous court battles. The union has won three times, but every time a judge sides in our favour, the government changes a law or two and appeals the ruling.

I don’t know how much they’ve spent on lawyers, but I wish someone would tell them to direct that money into the school system.