Sign of the Times

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This my last week of freedom.

Although school isn’t scheduled to start until September 2, we’re back on the picket lines beginning Monday. I’ve drawn the early shift. It’ll be tough answering to the alarm clock, but I don’t mind getting my shifts done early.

What really concerns me is the state of public education in this province.

The government isn’t budging in their negotiations. Well, that’s not actually true. They’re moving backwards, taking things off the table at each meeting. The wage package they’re currently offering is less than it was in May and their signing bonus expired in June.

At this rate, we’ll be paying them if we ever get back to work.

But wait–it’s not all doom and gloom. There is public money available!

The government proposes to pay parents of children under thirteen $40 per day for the duration of the strike/lock out. This money is meant to cover the cost of child care and tutoring or other “educational options.” Apparently only elementary students need to keep up with their studies. High schoolers (you know, the ones preparing for university or trade school entrance) won’t generate any money for alternate educational options.

In a stunning gesture of good will the government has also lifted the lock out to allow teachers to enter schools. Yes, teachers will be able to prepare for the start of the new school year on their own time! I guess they want us primed and ready to go when they finally starve us into submission and we get back to work.

In October, we’ll hear the verdict of the government’s second expensive appeal of the case they keep losing. (Years ago the government stripped class size and composition language from the teachers’ contract. Two different courts have told them this was illegal and ordered them to fix things. Have they listened? Hell no! If you don’t like the verdict, appeal! Then appeal again… and again…)

In an effort to remain realistic, my wish for the 2014/15 school year is something we might actually get…

…new picket signs!

The old ones are pretty ratty after a couple of rainy days last June and it looks like we’ll be wearing them for quite some time.

Locked Out!

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Today was a big day on the line.

We got to turn our ratty signs over to indicate we’re now officially locked out by the employer, not on strike.

To the kids who are out of school, it’s likely a subtle difference, but it had a huge impact on recent events, particularly the teachers’ 86% vote to escalate job action to a full-scale strike. This afternoon, one teacher on the line summed it up: the three-day lock out at the end of June combined with the 10% pay cut for the rest of the month, made the strike a no brainer.

I hesitate to say the government provoked the teachers’ strike, but if I was cynical I’d admit it kind of looks that way.

As of this morning, the situation is “fluid.”

We’re expected to picket all summer. Summer school has been cancelled so there will be no picket lines. The Minister of Education is seeking a ruling from the Labour Relations Board to designate summer school an essential service. (No word on who he’ll get to teach summer school if the LRB rules in his favour. Given the current state of the relationship, I can’t see many teachers applying for those jobs. Surely we haven’t reached the point where teachers can be forced to work.)

So, work remains a mess.

On the personal front, I’m a year into The Sailor’s Woman (yay, me!)

Lately I’ve missed the occasional post. I’ve had to admit to myself that my life just isn’t interesting enough to generate three posts/week 😦

I’ve reached two decisions:

I may switch to once or twice per week.

I’ll stop beating myself up for missing a post.

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.